Guitar Maintenance – Cleaning the Fret Board | Krazed Indie Guide

Guitar Maintenance – Cleaning the Fret Board

Hello everyone. Whilst the studio is nice and quiet today, I thought I’d just do a quick video on guitar maintenance. I work with a lot of young guitarists; new guitarists. Some guitarists change their strings once a year, while some change their strings once every six months. Some change them once a month; if you’re doing thrash, you do a lot of palm muting and your hand sweats, and you’ll notice that your strings start to decay quite quickly. But one thing I do, at least once a year – and some guitarists I speak to never even think about this – is to maintain the fret board; the wooden fret board.

Some people use lemon oil; I myself like to use linseed oil. Pharmaceutical grade, or 100% pure, linseed oil. These are things you can get from Amazon or Ebay, or a shop you might know that does things like this. So, linseed oil and some cotton wool. I’ve taken the strings off of this already. This fret board’s getting a bit dry, I don’t know if you can see. It takes about 3 days, so obviously I’ll stop the video and come back in 3 days to finish the video off. But some people put their oil on and take it off one or two days later; I like to leave it on for about 3 days, that way there’s less to take off when you buff it off later, when you put your new strings on.

I’m just getting some oil on the cotton wool, and then just covering an area of wood. You can see straight away, from the other blocks, that you want it to be wet, but not soaking wet. You want a thin layer of film on the top, and that’s what you will let settle in over the next 3 days. For guitar maintenance, I normally change my strings every 6 months, which is a nightmare when you have as many guitars as I have. But when you have studios and you’re a professional guitarist, you know; I have different guitars for certain things, so it saves me having to retune my workhorses. I have a guitar tuned to open G, a guitar tuned to open D; you end up having a collection of guitars, which I’ll touch upon later on.

In the background you can see I have a Gibson, I have Fenders; I like to have all kinds of guitars. I have guitars from the 70s, the 80s, the guitar maintenance60s, Hoffners, Satellites, Sceptres; I’m of the mindset that every guitar, no matter how old or cheap it may be, can make a good sound. And it’s an achievement; when you have a guitar from the 60s, and you use it in a song and it sounds brilliant, it’s like an homage to the guitar. Many guitars end up under the bed or in the loft, maybe the car boot. I rather like battling with older guitars, so even though I have my steady workhorses like the Gibsons and Fenders, I have the Ibanezes and the Adam Blacks. I like to have different guitars, different sounds. In the old days you had your Satellites and Kays, or Columbuses that used to come from the catalogue. But guitar maintenance is key.

My Satellite, which I’ve had since I was 12, I got from Woolworths for £18, but a lot of bands started out with these guitars. So now, on stage when they want to sound like they used to – there are machines that can replicate old school sounds – I like to use electronic guitars from those eras, rather than mechanical emulators. That’s just me. I’ll lift this so you can see; it’s just wet enough, not soaking. There’s a layer on top. So now I’ll stop filming, and in 3 days time I’ll come back. Then I’ll take the excess of before I restring, give the body a clean, and if I can think of any more guitar maintenance tips before I restring, then I’ll talk about them. And we’ll talk about guitars later, when I’m redoing the fret board. See you soon.


Hi everyone, welcome back to LR studio 1. It’s been 3 days. As you can see, some of the oil has soaked right through now, and is in the wood. Some of it’s still leaving residue there. One thing I forgot to say is that before I put the oil on, you probably noticed I didn’t clean the fret board. This is because over the 3 days, the oil lifts the dirt from what’s engrained in the wood, and it sits on top so when you wipe off the residue, you clean the dirt off too. So it’s a general cleansing process.

So now I’ll get a piece of cotton wool and start giving a general rub to take the residue off, and you can see where the dirt and oil residue are coming off. And I started to say on the previous section that some people change their strings once a year, some every 6 months, some every month. If you can do this guitar maintenance process at least once a year, particularly during a restringing process, it just makes the guitar much more playable. Especially if you’re sliding or shredding, or when you’re bending the strings, it’s so nice to have a soft, reconditioned, rejuvenated fret board. I won’t bother about restringing in this video, I just wanted to show you how easy it is to just maintain the fret board.

Some people get new pickups and bridges on. I have a luthier who takes the back off and sprays the knobs and pots, and cleans everything for me once a year. These are your tools of the trade, so it’s important to look after them. If you’ve never done this before, I hope this video is helpful.

Another little tip for restringing is to get a string winder for about £1.20 or £1.30, because it saves time. There’s a photo of one of the rooms in the studio where I’m doing a restring of my acoustics, and you’ll see why having a winder is necessary. When you have 10+ guitars to restring it takes quite a while. If you can see the fret board now, you’ll see. It feels beautiful now, and once I’ve restrung it I’ll clean the body, and the whole guitar will be a joy to play.

Hope this video has been helpful; there will be many more played at so if you haven’t subscribed, please do so to get tons more information like this from other professionals in the music industry.


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