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Cleaning your guitar fingerboard properly and using guitar polish to protect your baby

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By Greigg Fraser
Greigg is a guitarist/songwriter from London Canada. Visit his web site and listen to audio samples from his two CD's!

Clean your guitar's fingerboard and fretboard.
Guitar cleaning tips, using guitar polish

One of the most common things I see as a guitar repairman is dirty, disgusting fingerboards caked with grime and salt (or “hand cheese” as we call it in the trade) and God knows whatever else. Yuk!!! How you remove this unsightly gunk can be determined by a) whatever the fingerboard is made of, and b) how bad the build up is in the first place.

For guitars that have either an unfinished ebony or rosewood fingerboard, I usually suggest using extremely fine (0000 grit) steel wool. This stuff also polishes your frets at the same time … bonus! Simply rub back and forth in the same direction as the fret itself gently pressing the steel wool up against the fret with your fingernail then switch to lengthwise strokes to get rid of the cross grain scratches. If the grime build up is really heavy you can use either a flexible steel ruler or a credit card to scrape most of it away then finish with the steel wool. Next, lubricate your nice clean fingerboard with either lemon oil or perhaps linseed oil. Apply with a soft clean lint free cloth sparingly and wipe off any excess.

For fingerboards that are maple, your approach needs to be a bit different; using steel wool for example will not only get rid of the dirt but the finish as well! You can use either a warm damp cloth to clean your maple board, or any quality guitar polish…one of the best I’ve found is made by “Martin” (see link to the right) which not only polishes but also acts as an effective de-greaser. For heavy deposits try using your fingernail or even a guitar pick to scrape it off, then finish as described above.

Good luck and keep it clean!

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CleverJoe Top Picks: Dunlop Formula 65 Guitar Polish Kit
Dunlop Formula 65
Guitar Polish Kit

Everything you need to care for your guitar is right here. Polishes and beautifies while hiding and sealing small cracks, leaving a moisture- and stain-resistant barrier. Three hearty thumbs up.

Martin Guitar Polish
Martin Guitar Polish
A popular guitar polish, specially formulated to sustain the life of your guitar's classic finish and preserve the wood beneath it.

GHS Fast-Fret String Cleaner
GHS Fast-Fret String Cleaner
If you don't already have this in your guitar case, it may only be because you've run out. This stuff is truly an old standby for guitar players.

Fender Instrument Care Kit by Meguiar's
Fender Instrument Care Kit by Meguiar's
Meguiar's, the world's premier car care manufacturer, has developed the ultimate finish care system for guitars exclusively for Fender! Removes light pick marks, sweat stains, and scratches, restores original luster and depth of finish, makes both plastic and metal surfaces shine. Love your guitar this much? Then it deserves it.

Lizard Spit Guitar Polish 3
Lizard Spit Guitar Polish 3
For use on fine finished surfaces. Special polymers repel dust and protect the finished surface from fingerprints and dust residue buildup. CleverJoe approved.

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Guitar lesson on how to clean your guitar's fingerboard and fretboard. Guitar cleaning tips, best guitar polish and more.