Purging Petroleum Smell from My Fretboard

Pappy35

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Over the weekend, I did the first string change on my brand new 50's Standard Les Paul. As is my custom with new guitars, I applied lemon oil to it to keep it from drying out. Only change this time was that I used D-Addario Lemon Oil.

It looks great now but my God man, the stink! I mean it REEKS of paint thinner (or some kind of petroleum distillate)!!! I literally can't play the damned guitar now because I'm having an allergic reaction to whatever the base oil is in that product.

Question #1 for this forum, which is hopefully populated with lots of talented luthiers, is: What can I do to correct this that doesn't involve leaving it in the garage for weeks until the volatiles boil off (at least I hope they do eventually).

Question #2 could probably be answered with a search but, since I'm here and posting this, what specific brand of fretboard conditioner do you all recommend that won't smell so horribly (or, preferably, at all)?
 

smk506

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I’d give it a good cleaning with some naptha to break down the oil. Follow that up with some plain mineral oil and call it a day.
 

Pappy35

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I’d give it a good cleaning with some naphtha to break down the oil. Follow that up with some plain mineral oil and call it a day.

Yeah, it kills me that I have a bottle of food-safe mineral oil (I presume this is OK) I could have used but I just had to go and try something new.
 

smk506

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Trying new things is part of the fun of life. I have a bunch of stuff in the redundant purchase file that I’m glad I bought and tried, even if I didn’t stick with.
 

Pappy35

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Trying new things is part of the fun of life. I have a bunch of stuff in the redundant purchase file that I’m glad I bought and tried, even if I didn’t stick with.
Oh, I agree completely. That's how I ended up with a Les Paul in the first place. I'm just worried that I've ruined the damned thing in the process...
 

ARandall

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Wow - I've not come across any actual Lemon/mineral oil that 'reeks' like paint thinner. One of my household is particularly sensitive to any of these type of smells (such that comments will be passed on smells I do not consider overly obnoxious at all), and she can quite happily do bike training in the room where fretboards are soaking in the stuff.
I have the Dunlop 65 bottles and have not come across any of them being a problem for smell.
Baby oil is a similar product too.....mineral oil with a scent added.

You didn't buy it on April 1st and have only now used it perchance??
 

smk506

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I doubt anything is ruined, just a bit stinky at the moment :D .

@ARandall, I’ve not had that experience with any fretboard product either, I’m assuming the bottle Pappy got was messed up somehow, or he’s just got a particular sensitivity to it.

ETA:

@Pappy35, did I see you mention being close to nashville somewhere on the forum? If so, we’re practically neighbors, I’d be curious to smell the oil and see with my own nose.
 

NHDave

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I am sensitive to smells. I’ve had guitars where the prior owner used some sort of linseed oil type product. Don’t like it. Can sometimes still linger if you try to remove it. I like that little Gibson three pack where it’s fretboard conditioner, string cleaner and I think One other product for $10-12 bucks. the conditioner gives the boards a nice dark look not overly greasy and doesn’t smell. Great in my book.
 

Pappy35

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I doubt anything is ruined, just a bit stinky at the moment :D .

@ARandall, I’ve not had that experience with any fretboard product either, I’m assuming the bottle Pappy got was messed up somehow, or he’s just got a particular sensitivity to it.

ETA:

@Pappy35, did I see you mention being close to nashville somewhere on the forum? If so, we’re practically neighbors, I’d be curious to smell the oil and see with my own nose.

I'm outside of Memphis. I went to Nashville a couple of months ago on a guitar safari.

I suspect something was chemically wrong with the product. I dug it out of the trash and yes, it did smell like lemon but it also had that <whatever> smell. I'm guessing the lemon boiled off and all that's left is whatever the base oil is (or was). I bought that bottle at Guitar Center so God knows how long it was sitting there.

So, Naphtha is a an enamel thinner? Here at Home Depot scoping out the options. I bought the VM & P Naphtha. That's not going to melt my nitro I hope...
 
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smk506

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I'm outside of Memphis. I went to Nashville a couple of months ago on a guitar safari.

I suspect something was chemically wrong with the product. I dug it out of the trash and yes, it did smell like lemon but it also had that <whatever> smell. I'm guessing the lemon boiled off and all that's left is whatever the base oil is (or was). I bought that bottle at Guitar Center so God knows how long it was sitting there.

So, Naphtha is a an enamel thinner? Here at Home Depot scoping out the options. I bought the VM & P Naphtha. That's not going to melt my nitro I hope...


Ah, that’s a bit of a trek. The VM&P is perfect, nitro safe. Here’s my bottle from 6 years ago lol, still working fine.

image.jpg
 

smk506

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It’s basically lighter fluid FYI, so don’t freak out when you open it and smell it lol. It probably stinks worse than what’s on it, but it evaporates very quickly and doesn’t leave a long lasting odor when it does. An old tshirt rag and a bit of elbow grease and you’ll be all set.

A little goes a long way until it starts evaporating so don’t soak the wood or rack, just enough to dampen your working surface should do it.

Scrub it /wipe it and switch to a clean cloth or part of the cloth and give it another wipe. Wait about 10-15 minutes after you finish and it should be all evaporated.
 

Pappy35

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Ah, that’s a bit of a trek. The VM&P is perfect, nitro safe. Here’s my bottle from 6 years ago lol, still working fine.

Thanks. Yeah, if it weren't for Covid I'd mail you a sample for a sniff-check. :rofl:

I reached out to D'Addario (not that I expect any response) and am keeping the bottle for now.
 

smk506

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Thanks. Yeah, if it weren't for Covid I'd mail you a sample for a sniff-check. :rofl:

I reached out to D'Addario (not that I expect any response) and am keeping the bottle for now.


They’ll get back to you, they’re a great outfit re: customer service in my experience.
 

Pappy35

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They’ll get back to you, they’re a great outfit re: customer service in my experience.

They did. George, a fellow NY'er (or Long Gilander I should say) called me. Basically he said I just laid it on too thick, which I did (20/20 hindsight). He said it would just boil off after a few days. I'm gonna clean it with naphtha to move it along because I'm thick-headed... :rofl:
 

Roxy13

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I like the smell of the Music Nomad F One oil and that's what I use on my fretboards. I'm pretty sensitive as well to chemical smells.
 

Guy Guyatone

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I use Scott's Liquid Gold Wood Care - Almond Scent. It smells yummy when you put it on but the odor quickly dissipates. Leaves my fretboards looking nice too.
 

jstarr823

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Interesting. The mineral oil that I use doesn’t have a scent. If it does, it’s so light that it’s imperceptible.
 

Jetsan

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Question #2 could probably be answered with a search but, since I'm here and posting this, what specific brand of fretboard conditioner do you all recommend that won't smell so horribly (or, preferably, at all)?

Hi Pappy,

I am very new to guitars (started this year, at 46...) but I am using exactly the Daddario Lemon Oil (on my LP and my daughters cheap Strat) and the only smell is a faint lemon smell, that goes away very quickly. As others have commented I think you were very unlucky and got a somehow "defective" bottle or maybe the previous owner of the guitar used some smelly product and the hydration made the smell come back.

Good luck with the smell removal!

Best regards,

Sandro
 

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