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Cleaning Les Paul Frets


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Do any special precautions have to be taken cleaning a Les Paul fret board to avoid messing up the binding nibs?

I was thinking specifically about using metal polish on the frets which turns black.

I don't want to stain the binding and ruin it.


Any experts in this area that have cleaned several dirty fret boards up?

Tips on the proper way, anything to avoid?

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I just did this last night on my Jr.Carefully mask everything leaving only the fretts themselves exposed.On non bound fingerboards,Apply a small amont of metal polish to a felt wheel for a rotary tool, polish a few at a time and shine with a soft clean cloth.On your guitar I would polish the frets by hand instead of using a rotary tool to avoid breaking off the nibs if the wheel grabbed on them.I also lightly sanded the frets with 600 grit wet/dry sand paper first because they felt rough from the factory but I don't recommend you try that.I finished it off by rubbing in a small amount of lemon oil into the fingerboard and wipe all excess off thoroughly with a clean cloth.

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My own personal regime

Without getting too technical

Finger dirt etc can be removed with a spray wax furniture polish

Then a metal polish to shine up the frets(assuming no levelling is required)

Lemon Oil to taste, allow to dry

Cloth wipe over


Play and Enjoy..... [biggrin]


Funny how it feels better after a good clean up


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  • 2 weeks later...

I personally use 0000 Steel wool and only tape over my pickups with Painters tape so the metal filings don't stick to the pickup magnets.


If done correctly, going with the grain of the wood, you can clean out any gunk and shine the frets up nicely with just the steel wool. Follow up with a nice (small) dose of "Boiled Linseed Oil" if your Fretboard is Ebony or Rosewood. If it is a Maple ncek like on my Strat, I only use the steel wool on the frets lightly.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I agree with TP. 0000 Steel Wool is all you should ever need to polish your frets! And that doesn't need to be done too often. Keep this in mind though, tape off your pickups to prevent metal shavings from sticking to the actual magnets, and be careful about rubbing your guitar until all the metal shavings are safely blown off the finish, because these fine shavings will ruin a finish. Don't let this scare you, though, you can do it.

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