Original post by Rusty:

I bought some 0000 steel wool (very fine) at the home depot the other day to remove some dirt from the fret board, and whada ya know, it buffs the oxidation and junk right off of the chrome parts. Makes it look new and shiny. Pickups, stoptail, etc... Very easy too. And it doesn't scratch anything. As far as what the eye can see anyway. But maybe some of you knew that already. In that case, this isn't for you.


Yeah, good stuff. But be careful cleaning your fretboard. Always work in the direction of the grain. Going across will leave some unpleasant residual marks.

Remember you're removing wood with steel wool, so wear some sort of mask because rosewood dust is not safe for breathing.

Also, if you go across the frets with the steel wool it might be a good idea to finish up by polishing the fret lengthwise.

My extensive fingerboard/fret regimen is as follows:

  • Tape off the board using low adhesive masking tape.
  • Polish the frets using Micro-Mesh. I first go lengthwise with the fretboard (which cleans and buffs) and then along each fret (which removes the scuff marks and creates the shine). Start with 1500 and work your way up 10 12000 grit. I use the foam sandling block because it conforms to the fret radius.
  • After the Micro-Mesh treatment I remove the sanding dust with a soft bristled brush.
  • Using a low abrasive polish (the PRS stuff works great) and a clean cloth, buff and polish the frets again. This adds even more smoothness.
  • Remove the masking tape from the board. Be extra careful with nitro finished necks, especially on older instruments, as you can accidentally remove the finish from the side of the fretboard. The best way to prevent this is to remove the tape from the back of the neck on both sides, then pull off the top of the board. Do not remove from one side of the neck and then "unwrap" to the other as this is might remove the finish.
  • For rosewood boards: Clean the gunk off your fretboard with quality lemon oil or Guitar Honey and an old toothbrush. Also you can use a 50/50 mix of linseed oil and olive oil.
  • Wipe off the dirty oil and apply a few drops of clean oil. Allow to soak into the board for a new minutes (I go 15) and wipe off the excess.

The benefits of this treatment are pretty noticeable. Smoother playability for one. But also I see no need to use steel wool on a rosewood board unless you "need" to smooth it down.

These techniques were passed along to me by a good friend who is also a professional luthier.