Cleaning your fretboard

Date Posted:9 May 2023 

Cleaning your guitar fretboard is an essential part of guitar maintenance. A clean fretboard not only looks better but also plays better. Over time, dirt, sweat, and oils from your fingers can build upon the fretboard, which can negatively affect the sound and playability of your guitar. In this article, we will discuss how to clean your guitar fretboard to keep it in excellent condition.

First, you will need to gather the necessary supplies. has a wide range of items available for cleaning your fretboard which can be found here. You will need a soft cloth or towel, fretboard cleaner, and some 0000 steel wool or sandpaper (if necessary). Make sure to choose a cleaner that is safe for use on guitar fretboards.

The first step is to remove the strings from your guitar. This will give you access to the fretboard and make it easier to clean. If you are not comfortable removing the strings, you can simply loosen them to make it easier to access the fretboard.

Next, take the soft cloth or towel and apply the fretboard cleaner. Gently wipe down the fretboard to remove any dirt, sweat, or oils. Make sure to get in between the frets and all the way up to the guitar body. If your fretboard is particularly dirty or has stubborn stains, Apply a small amount of cleaner to the soft cloth or towel and gently rub it onto the fretboard, wiping off the excess and repeating the process. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for the cleaner.

For stubborn stains or grime, luthiers often use steel wool or sandpaper to remove them. However, you should only use steel wool or sandpaper as a last resort, as they can damage the fretboard if not used correctly. If you do use steel wool or sandpaper, be sure to use a light touch and go with the grain of the wood. Note: Luthiers will know what fretboards can handle steel wool and or sandpaper so seek support if you are not sure. 

The next part is optional but I like to clean and polish my frets every few times I change the strings. Once again, dirt buildup will almost certainly affect your new strings.

You can choose to mask your fretboard with either painter's tape or masking tape. This option is very good when using metal polish creams. The tape stops the creams from being applied to the fretboard which can be hard to remove, often drying and showing in the grain on your fretboard. If using tape, ensure you clean your fretboard right up to the edge of the frets to allow for the tape to sit right next to your fret.

Another alternative is using a product like Nevr-dull which is a chrome polish for cars "Be careful what surfaces it comes in contact with as we haven't tested this on all finishes" This is a great product to polish your frets with, a superb finish without too much effort.

Fret Covers

Another option is to use a set of fret grips like these.

Ideal when using 0000 steel wool to clean your frets. You can simply move from fret to fret cleaning with the steel wool, this makes the task light work.

FYI: This is our preferred method. No taping up, simply use the fret grips with 0000 steel wool to polish the frets, then clean the fretboard as per above. You can't go wrong.  

Once you have finished cleaning the fretboard, use a clean, dry cloth or towel to wipe away any excess moisture. You can then restring your guitar and enjoy playing with a clean fretboard.

Cleaning your guitar fretboard is an essential part of guitar maintenance. With a few simple tools and techniques, you can keep your fretboard in excellent condition, which will help to ensure that your guitar sounds and plays its best.

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