Oil/Grease and Guitar Wood/Lubrication In General

rfrizz

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In a thread in another forum, the subject of lubrication came up which in turn brought up the bad effects of petroleum-based oil/grease on wood. I specifically mentioned the "rotting" effect petroleum oil/grease can have.

For the machine parts of a guitar, what are the favored products to use for lubrication and protection? In the other thread, I mentioned using a fluoropolymer oil (Tetra Gun Oil) to lubricate the contact area between a classical guitar's tuning gear and the metal base. Although I used juuuuust enough, and I applied it with a toothpick, I should have used grease instead.

I know product preferences can lead to holy wars, but I think useful information can come from a discussion of what you prefer and, more important, why you prefer it.
 

Meatwad

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Watching this with some curiosity......

I've got a National resonator that has tuners that are slightly less stiff than a week old corpse.
I'm reluctant to put any oil on 'em, but I've thought about trying some of the Big Bends Nut Sauce next time I do a string change.
 

rfrizz

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Watching this with some curiosity......

I've got a National resonator that has tuners that are slightly less stiff than a week old corpse.
I'm reluctant to put any oil on 'em, but I've thought about trying some of the Big Bends Nut Sauce next time I do a string change.
According to Sweetwater, Big Bends does not use petroleum, so that shouldn't be a worry. If it matters to you, I can't tell if it contains PTFE/Teflon.

Can you post a pic or a link to a pic of the tuning machines? The different pics I have seen all show mechanism nearly identical to those on classical guitars. If that's the case, getting oil on the wood looks like it would take effort.

national-style-2-5-tricone-squareneck-nickel-1929-cons-head-front.jpg

Using a toothpick is the best way to apply the sauce. A plastic toothpick or a metal pick have the advantage of not absorbing and wasting oil. For those who don't know, it takes very, very little oil/grease to do the job, and any extra does nothing more than attract dust and potentially abrasive particles. With graphite, excess winds up making a mess -- over and over again.

When I lubricated my classical's tight, creaky tuners, I completely de-tensioned the string for the tuner being worked on; there was enough slack that I didn't have to remove it.

My choice was a floropolymer oil with PTFE/Teflon, Tetra Gun Lube. In retrospect, I should have used grease instead of oil because grease stays in place, while oil creeps, but this isn't a big deal for this application.

I unscrewed the gear's retaining screw, and then removed the gear. (It was a chore to get the gear off, and maybe a smidgen of oil/grease for the gear teeth & worm gear would have helped.) After I cleaned the gear, screw, and the gear's bearing surface on the guitar, I applied a tiny bit of oil with a toothpick to the gear. I put four lines from center to edge, just short of the gear teeth -- imagine a plus sign. I put the gear back in its place, and also put a tiny amount of oil on the tip (last 0.5mm) of the machine screw before re-fastening the gear.

Wish I'd used a peg winder for this, but 2-3 full rotations of the gear forward and then the same backward evenly spread the oil all over the surface.

I was very pleased with the results. The tuners tune just as they should. I hope this also works for you.
 

CB91710

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We use mineral oil on rosewood necks all the time without giving it a 2nd thought.

What is mineral oil?


Mineral oil is any of various colorless, odorless, light mixtures of higher alkanes from a mineral source, particularly a distillate of petroleum,[1] as distinct from usually edible vegetable oils.

It is a petroleum distillate.
It will not cause "dry rot" of wood as someone mentioned, but you don't want to soak your parts in it.
 
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Meatwad

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According to Sweetwater, Big Bends does not use petroleum, so that shouldn't be a worry. If it matters to you, I can't tell if it contains PTFE/Teflon.

Can you post a pic or a link to a pic of the tuning machines? The different pics I have seen all show mechanism nearly identical to those on classical guitars. If that's the case, getting oil on the wood looks like it would take effort.

View attachment 552999

Using a toothpick is the best way to apply the sauce. A plastic toothpick or a metal pick have the advantage of not absorbing and wasting oil. For those who don't know, it takes very, very little oil/grease to do the job, and any extra does nothing more than attract dust and potentially abrasive particles. With graphite, excess winds up making a mess -- over and over again.

When I lubricated my classical's tight, creaky tuners, I completely de-tensioned the string for the tuner being worked on; there was enough slack that I didn't have to remove it.

My choice was a floropolymer oil with PTFE/Teflon, Tetra Gun Lube. In retrospect, I should have used grease instead of oil because grease stays in place, while oil creeps, but this isn't a big deal for this application.

I unscrewed the gear's retaining screw, and then removed the gear. (It was a chore to get the gear off, and maybe a smidgen of oil/grease for the gear teeth & worm gear would have helped.) After I cleaned the gear, screw, and the gear's bearing surface on the guitar, I applied a tiny bit of oil with a toothpick to the gear. I put four lines from center to edge, just short of the gear teeth -- imagine a plus sign. I put the gear back in its place, and also put a tiny amount of oil on the tip (last 0.5mm) of the machine screw before re-fastening the gear.

Wish I'd used a peg winder for this, but 2-3 full rotations of the gear forward and then the same backward evenly spread the oil all over the surface.

I was very pleased with the results. The tuners tune just as they should. I hope this also works for you.
It's not a slot head - but it does have the 3 on a plate style like so many old guitars do.
I get that they make them to be period accurate, but holy crap......they're crap.

I'm eventually gonna upgrade to some modern sealed Gotohs.
I use a lot of different tunings and these things are a total PIA.
I'm just trying to buy some time until I decide which ones I'm gonna go with.
 

rfrizz

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It's not a slot head - but it does have the 3 on a plate style like so many old guitars do.
I get that they make them to be period accurate, but holy crap......they're crap.

I'm eventually gonna upgrade to some modern sealed Gotohs.
I use a lot of different tunings and these things are a total PIA.
I'm just trying to buy some time until I decide which ones I'm gonna go with.
I started on the worst tuner out of the six, and when results were so sweet, I knew I was using the right method, and I moved on to the other two bad ones.

Who knows... Maybe you'll decide that a clean & re-lube is good enough, and not bother with new tuners.
 

rfrizz

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We use mineral oil on rosewood necks all the time without giving it a 2nd thought.

[snip]

It will not cause "dry rot" of wood as someone mentioned, but you don't want to soak your parts in it.
You have more than a little expertise. May I pick your brain?

The words I used were " 'rotting' effect" to be exact. My understanding is that petroleum-based oil can cause wood to soften and weaken in a rot-like way. Is this accurate? Maybe another "it depends" answer?
 

CB91710

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You have more than a little expertise. May I pick your brain?

The words I used were " 'rotting' effect" to be exact. My understanding is that petroleum-based oil can cause wood to soften and weaken in a rot-like way. Is this accurate? Maybe another "it depends" answer?
I think someone else mentioned "dry rot"

As always, moderation.
A small amount needed on a neck or tuner won't cause any issues. Soaking is never good.
In the 90s, I overdid it. Slathered on "lemon oil" every time I changed strings. The glue on the inlays on my Epi LP started letting go and I had to remount several of them.
The same would hold for cleaning and lubricating a tuner... if you can see a film on the metal, it's too much. It is technically a high pressure, low-velocity connection where grease would generally be preferred, but of course, grease softens with heat and can separate, and of course it collects dust.
So really, a very small amount of oil works best. Just enough to protect the metal from corrosion.

Honestly, in my environment in SoCal, in over 40 years I've never oiled or greased any of the metal parts on any of my guitars, beyond using Blue Shower or Deoxit on pots, but it may be wise in some areas of high humidity or salt air.
 
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moreles

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Some book I read decades ago said to condition your fretboard by wiping a finger along your nose and using that bodsy oil on the board. While it was a joke, the point fits with what others are saying: oil, in and of itself, is not a welcome substance in any excess. In addition to the good tips about how to minimize and spot-apply lubricants, I would add that it really, really helkps to work a component (such as a tuner) back and forth repeatedly both to distribute the lubricant and loosen the mechanism.
 

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Oil for your fretboard and grease for your tuners, it’s not rocket science. A little goes a long way. I have the same bottle of Lemon Oil that I bought in the 80’s. A little drop on every other fret at most once a year, all is good! Your fingers oil up the wood anyway, and an old cleaning trick is to use a bit of spit on a rag.
 

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I use "Super Lube" which is considered "gun grease". No issues so far. I (previously) ran this question by George Gruhn about use on my Classic Martin guitar with sticky open tuners he responded--"that is fine". Good enough for Gruhn's, good enough for me.
 

rfrizz

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I use "Super Lube" which is considered "gun grease". No issues so far. I (previously) ran this question by George Gruhn about use on my Classic Martin guitar with sticky open tuners he responded--"that is fine". Good enough for Gruhn's, good enough for me.
As I mentioned in my long post above, for the bearing surface between the tuning dear and the base-plate of the tuning assembly on my classical guitar, I used Tetra Gun Oil, but I should have used the grease.

From what I can tell, Super Lube is similar to Tetra Gun Grease.

BTW, for pistol slides and M1/M1 Carbine/M14-type rifle's bolts, op-rods, and bearing surfaces, grease is the way to go, in my opinion as well as the opinions of many experts, such as Scott A. Duff, Walt Kuleck with Clint McKee. The reasoning is that oil will fly off with the first round, but grease will remain.

For the same reason I used a toothpick for applying lubricant to the tuning gear, I apply grease to firearms with a paintbrush.
 

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I am about 50/50 on "good" CLP lubricants vs grease on my firearms. I am known to use both. MPro7 is an option for me. I have known many to use fully synthetic motor oil such as Mobile 1.

Super Lube was recommended to me by Robert Burke--who is known as "The Sig Armorer". I trust him (a LOT). If he says it, I believe it. Many of the experts you mention are also reliable. Not sure the brand of grease (for shooting) is as important as the concept to "lubricate moving parts". Agree that grease does not "migrate" (shooting word for run and move and fly off) nearly to the degree that oil migrates. Biggest difference I see is that grease does not clean and protect the way a good CLP does. Not always as important when doing it at home but pretty important at times in the field.
 

rfrizz

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I am about 50/50 on "good" CLP lubricants vs grease on my firearms. I am known to use both. MPro7 is an option for me. I have known many to use fully synthetic motor oil such as Mobile 1.

Super Lube was recommended to me by Robert Burke--who is known as "The Sig Armorer". I trust him (a LOT). If he says it, I believe it. Many of the experts you mention are also reliable. Not sure the brand of grease (for shooting) is as important as the concept to "lubricate moving parts". Agree that grease does not "migrate" (shooting word for run and move and fly off) nearly to the degree that oil migrates. Biggest difference I see is that grease does not clean and protect the way a good CLP does. Not always as important when doing it at home but pretty important at times in the field.
If you have ever been on a gun website, you have seen the holy wars about this subject.

Mobil 1 oil and grease are effective, but stinky! BTW, you may know this, but Mob1 grease is simply Mob1 oil mixed with a thickening agent. All grease, to my limited knowledge, is just oil and a thickener.

Remember about grease that it is not intended to clean. It lubes and protects, especially when it has protectant agents added. CLP was developed to simplify logistics. M1s during WWII & Korea, as an example, had grease pots (which fit into the buttstock chambers) and separate solvent pots. I don't know about oil.

The main complaint about CLP is that it does all three jobs, but it doesn't do all three jobs well. I am not qualified to say if operational troops in the field would be better served with a good cleaner plus a good, seperate lube & protectant, or if CLP is the best way.

For civilian use, we have the advantage of time, plus we don't have to worry about being shot at. This is why I use cleaners, especially to get copper fouling out, and then I use Tetra grease to lube and protect.

On the subject of cleaning, the Otis system is just IT! For those not familiar, the "rod" is a nylon coated cable, with all-brass connectors on each end. You clean by putting the cable in the chamber, and pull it from the muzzle. It is a lot like the BoreSnake

The big advantage is how it protects the inside of the barrel, and especially the muzzle. No matter how tight of a patch, the cable will not touch the barrel, and so long as you use your fingers to keep it centered, it never touches the crown.

They sell special 100% cotton round patches with small holes cuts in them. You run the brass loop through the hole, and tie the patches to it. Even with semi-auto rifles, you can clean from chamber to muzzle.

EDIT: For the lubrication holy wars, I see one overarching fact. So long as it is properly cleaned, lubed, and stored, and it is never run dry, a firearm will last for decades with CLP, Mobil 1, Tetra, or any other decent product.
 
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DBDM

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EDIT: For the lubrication holy wars, I see one overarching fact. So long as it is properly cleaned, lubed, and stored, and it is never run dry, a firearm will last for decades with CLP, Mobil 1, Tetra, or any other decent product.
I used to attempt to buy the brand recommended by the manufacturers--till I realized that is a designation that the lube companies PAY for (advertising). That said I am a "Sig guy" and for years sig recommended TW-25. Nice thing about that lube is that it does not stink (smells kind of "coconutty"). I like it. Now they recommend (or did on my last purchase) MPro-7 which also does not smell too bad and I really like. I shoot quite a bit but a few bottles of either of those products is functionally a lifetime supply. Toss in the superlube (which is like 3 liftemes of grease) given to me by Robert Burke and I likely have all of the "recommended lube" I will ever need. I do not subscribe to the lube wars. My advice on lubes is "have some" and don't use too much or too little. Downside on grease is that it is not really for protecting the non-moving parts where CLP does both. I use both on the bench (Grease on the slide and CLP on non moving parts) but in the field I will use whatever I can/have/borrow.

The only lube I have ever used that I do NOT recommend is "Frog Lube" which bonds to the weapon and also turns to gum/Jello in the presence of other lubes. I cant get it off and every time I think I have it gums up again. It is a COMMITMENT. apparently it really DOES bond with the steel which could be great if you only want to use Frog Lube--but if you are me and cant seem to get it off, you are SCREWED.
 

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The only lube I have ever used that I do NOT recommend is "Frog Lube" which bonds to the weapon and also turns to gum/Jello in the presence of other lubes. I cant get it off and every time I think I have it gums up again. It is a COMMITMENT. apparently it really DOES bond with the steel which could be great if you only want to use Frog Lube--but if you are me and cant seem to get it off, you are SCREWED.
Someone ran a spectral analysis on the stuff.
It's coconut oil with a scent added.

Enough heat and you should be able to cook it out. I've not had any problem with it gumming up my Glocks after cleaning, but I didn't use a lot, and only on the slides. I use light oil on the fire control group.
 

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I have a German made Sig 226 X5 that I do not fire much (kind of a safe Queen). I thought Frog Lube would be good for long term storage. I followed the instructions for application (I heated the pistol to make it bond better). Now I cant get it off! I tried everything including their remover. Next will be to totally disassemble and put it in an ultrasonic cleaner with their "remover" and see if that helps. Internet warriors say alcohol but that did not help. With every attempt I think I have it all removed but then I wait a few weeks and somehow it emerges from the pores and gums it up again. Like i am cursed by the stuff!

PS--I did not say so but I did heat it in the oven during one of my (albeit comical) attempts. I will agree with the company that it DOES bond but at a cost.

PSS-I don't oil my glock FCUs but I am not a "Glock Guy" and do not fire them much. I lube the slide a bit and my glock buddies always say I use too much. I am a classic Sig guy and DA/SA sigs like to be "wet" so that is my basis on my Glocks. Except for the firing pin and firing pin channel, you really cannot overlube a semi auto in my opinion.
 
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rfrizz

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I used to attempt to buy the brand recommended by the manufacturers--till I realized that is a designation that the lube companies PAY for (advertising). That said I am a "Sig guy" and for years sig recommended TW-25. Nice thing about that lube is that it does not stink (smells kind of "coconutty"). I like it. Now they recommend (or did on my last purchase) MPro-7 which also does not smell too bad and I really like. I shoot quite a bit but a few bottles of either of those products is functionally a lifetime supply. Toss in the superlube (which is like 3 liftemes of grease) given to me by Robert Burke and I likely have all of the "recommended lube" I will ever need. I do not subscribe to the lube wars. My advice on lubes is "have some" and don't use too much or too little. Downside on grease is that it is not really for protecting the non-moving parts where CLP does both. I use both on the bench (Grease on the slide and CLP on non moving parts) but in the field I will use whatever I can/have/borrow.

No doubt on the first part. I see so many people using too much. I'll say again about greases that there are many which a great protectants. What I do with, say an M1/M14 op rod, is to wipe it down with a minute amount of oil, and then I grease the bearing surfaces. Same with a bolt.
 

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No doubt on the first part. I see so many people using too much. I'll say again about greases that there are many which a great protectants. What I do with, say an M1/M14 op rod, is to wipe it down with a minute amount of oil, and then I grease the bearing surfaces. Same with a bolt.
I MOSTLY shoot pistols. Shotguns second. Rifles 3rd. I DO shoot 3 gun, but mostly handguns. I also have several of the Otis kits mentioned above. My Sabre ARs (I have 3 of those) came with them so I use them when I clean my ARs. Only grease I use on my pistols is the slides.

Edit--when I mentioned CLP for "Protection" I was referring to the outside of pistols. Sig finishes actually absorb oil. No one believes that but they do. They last much longer when kept (very lightly) oiled. Procedure is remarkably similar to Rosewood fretboards. Very light oil, let it sit, look at where the oil soaked in and is dry, add more (tiny bit), wait....
 

rfrizz

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I MOSTLY shoot pistols. Shotguns second. Rifles 3rd. I DO shoot 3 gun, but mostly handguns. I also have several of the Otis kits mentioned above. My Sabre ARs (I have 3 of those) came with them so I use them when I clean my ARs. Only grease I use on my pistols is the slides.
Otis really shines when used on semiauto rifles which cannot take a rod from the chamber. With Otis, even a Mini-14/M14/M1 Carbine/M1 can be cleaned breech to muzzle.

I believe you that Sigs absorb oil. They are good tools.As I said before, so long as we use decent lurication and don't allow our firearms to run dry, they will last for 10s of thousands of rounds, and after that, a new barrel will keep them going for grandchildren.
 


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