Best way to clean these frets?

InTheEvening

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So I don’t know if this normal, don’t have it on my other guitars, but I noticed these marks on my frets today. I assumed it’s just dirt/grime from the strings but when I tried to wipe it away with a damp cloth, it didn’t go away. It almost looks like the metal corroded or scratched. Any way to clean this off?

And now it got me thinking about fretboard care, I know some folks put lemon oil once in a while. But anything I should be doing to keep the fretboard and frets in best condition possible?


You can see the green/brown marks on the frets. It’s a new guitar, just a few months old so I wasn’t expecting to see this so soon. I also wash my hands well before playing to keep the guitar front getting dirty.

 

LuthierVandross

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This is oxidation that is turning into rust by the looks of it. A few months old to you? What kind of guitar? (If it’s import, could be poor metal used). Do you play this guitar offshore, specifically in a boat on the ocean?
 

wildhawk1

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Bag of 0000 steel wool and blue painters tape.
Readily available in any decent hardware store.

Tape off frets and top of pickups then take a small piece of 0000 steel wool and gently rub back and forth. Take your time.

Those frets will be shinier than the day you bought it.

Me and others have done this for years with great results.

Crappy video and use a smaller piece of steel wool than this guy but this gives you an example of how it's done.

 
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InTheEvening

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This is oxidation that is turning into rust by the looks of it. A few months old to you? What kind of guitar? (If it’s import, could be poor metal used). Do you play this guitar offshore, specifically in a boat on the ocean?
Yup, it’s a 2020 Gibson USA Les Paul standard 60’s I bought brand new in February this year. Hasn’t left the house since buying it. I only play it at home and keep it in the case when not in use so I’m a little surprised to see this. I don’t live in any extreme climate either, and keep things pretty climate controlled inside.

Bag of 0000 steel wool and blue painters tape.
Readily available in any decent hardware store.

Tape off frets a few at a time then take a small piece of 0000 steel wool and gently rub back and forth.

Those frets will be shinier than the day you bought it.

Me and others have done this for years with great results.
Awesome! Thank you. Will def get some this week.

Just out of curiosity, Is this something you normally see on guitars after just a few months of use? I got this brand new in February. It was a floor model, but the frets looked fine when I bought it if memory serves me right. I’ve seen this on my old epi which I used for years but not on any of my newer guitars.
 

wildhawk1

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Yup, it’s a 2020 Gibson USA Les Paul standard 60’s I bought brand new in February this year. Hasn’t left the house since buying it. I only play it at home and keep it in the case when not in use so I’m a little surprised to see this. I don’t live in any extreme climate either, and keep things pretty climate controlled inside.


Awesome! Thank you. Will def get some this week.

Just out of curiosity, Is this something you normally see on guitars after just a few months of use? I got this brand new in February. It was a floor model, but the frets looked fine when I bought it if memory serves me right. I’ve seen this on my old epi which I used for years but not on any of my newer guitars.
Either or both an environmental issue or the alloy the frets are made from. Not a big deal. Imports like Epis often show fret crud.

Just make sure it's "0000 steel wool". Nothing else and take your time masking off the frets.

You'll feel the frets go from sandpaper to glass with your fingertip as you gently go back and forth with a very small piece of the steel wool.

A bag of the stuff is cheap and will last forever.
 

wildhawk1

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3M 0000 Synthetic steel wool available at hardware stores.... No Metal...
Didn't know they made that. I'll look for it next time out. I actually learned something today.

Metal is fine if a person has common sense aka don't grab a Brillo pad and go full gorilla.
 
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diogoguitar

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nickel turns green with oxidation, so more likely than not it's rust.

I'm a recent adopter of Gorgomyte. They really work to buff out the frets.

I've done steel wool too (and they work), but it's pretty painful to avoid stuff getting in the rest of the guitar/house/eyes/nose or whatever else it can cause damage. When I did it, I literally covered the whole guitar body with a huge 30-gallon plastic bag, used glasses and gloves. It worked, but very messy. Gorgomyte saves a lot of pre/post work time
 

ehb

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I recommend the 3M 0000 Synthetic.... Using actual steel wool, you'd need to blue tape the pickups because the fine chaff goes everywhere.... Pain in the ass to get it all off.... Synthetic, there is no issue.... 3M 0000Synthetic comes in a bag of several and are white...

First cleaning though I will use micromesh or high # fret erasers (you can buy a pack from coarse to micromesh level, and/or the micromesh pads).... I call it glassing the frets... Like glass.... When they are close to mirror, I use a round leather coaster size (Hobby Lobby in the leather craft section) to burnish the frets and really make em shine....

On string changes, I wipe the board down with my little oil rag to clean (pack of smokes size section of handkerchief with a few DROPS of mineral oil on it, rolled repeatedly between hands to spread it out. If you wipe lightly and it leaves a wet streak that is too much mineral oil). Then plastic bristle brush to brush kank off fret space and up against both sides of frets. Brawny the board to pick up kank and any excess oil. Next, run 3M up and down several times to makes ure kank is off frets, then the suede side of the leather coaster to burnish. Flat vertical edge of leather coaster up against sides of frets. Slap on strings and pinch oil rag on each string and run up. and down once or twice (oxidation seal)..... Good to go.....

Keep a microfiber cloth in case to wipe strings down after playing.... and back of neck for any hand kank.....

Just my ritual I do every time.... Glassed frets play hella easier. Clean board prevents kank building up. and your strings last longer without being pressed into kank crap every time you press the strings....

Kank: Dead skin, skin oil, dirt, chicken leg grease, hair muck....

Above is how I do me.

You do you....

edro.
 

JohnnyN

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I've never had frets looking like that. I'm not sure Gorgomyte will remove it, but otherwise it is a great fret and fretboard cleaner.
 

MP4-22

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Definitely needs attention and id get some dissent packs for inside the case.
 

Southwest

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I use micromesh pads between 6000 and 12000 grade and a fret protector. That fretboard looks a lot like mine did before I cleaned it a week or so ago (mine is also a Standard 60s). With the micromesh it comes out super-shiny and no metal chaff or taping of the fretboard required. It will blacken your fingers as the crap comes off the frets though, so wear gloves if you want to avoid that.

I don't have a "before" shot, but this is after polishing.

1628078999709.png
 
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Roxy13

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I've had plenty of guitars from Japan arrive this way or even much worse. It's an island nation surrounded by salt water.

If you have well water at home you might also have high iron or sulfer content and it's in the air no matter what.

You can try the least involved method of metal polish or steel wool. If that isn't good enough you will have to go to hand sanding them with something. Micromesh pads, fret erasers or other quality sandpaper.
 


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