How to Clean and Condition a Maple Fret Board Guitar

by Kathy Adams
Maple guitar or bass fret boards require less care than ebony or rosewood fret boards.

Maple guitar or bass fret boards require less care than ebony or rosewood fret boards.

Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

So you've just picked up a new axe, but this guitar is different than your others -- it has a maple fret board. A maple fret board gets grimy like any other, but caring for maple fret boards is a little different than maintaining ebony or rosewood fret boards, which have oils that protect them. Fortunately, maple fret boards are a little easier to clean and condition because they are sealed with a protective coating.

Items you will need

  • Soft rag or microfiber cloth
  • Toothbrush
  • Fresh guitar strings
Step 1

Loosen each of the guitar strings a little at a time until all the strings are completely loosened. Remove the strings.

Step 2

Wipe and rub the fretboard of the guitar with a soft cloth. Use your finger covered in the cloth to go over each fret, wiping away any buildup.

Step 3

Scrub the frets with a soft-bristled nail brush or toothbrush. Press firmly to remove difficult areas of buildup around the frets. Blow any loose debris away from the guitar. Wipe the fretboard and frets thoroughly with a clean rag once the debris is gone.

Step 4

Re-string the guitar, placing only minimal tension on each string until all strings are in place. Tighten one gradually, then do the same to the rest of the strings until all strings are taut.

Step 5

Wipe the fretboard, frets and strings of your guitar with a soft cloth after each time you play guitar. This will prolong the life of the strings and fretboard finish.

Tips & Warnings

  • A damp cloth can also be used in place of a dry cloth for cleaning and conditioning the fret board; be sure to dry it thoroughly if you chose the damp method.
  • If you feel the need to use a spray on your sealed maple fret board, use the same preferred method you have for cleaning the rest of the sealed wood on your guitar body. Wipe all liquids thoroughly off the frets and other metal parts of the guitar to avoid corrosion.
  • Save fret board cleaning for whenever you plan to change strings rather than removing strings and putting the old ones back on after cleaning the fretboard.
  • Do not use steel wool or soap-infused steel wool cleaning products on your fret board, as they may damage the instrument or leave metal shavings.
  • Loosen the strings a little at a time rather than removing some strings while the others are pulled taut. Excess tension can cause warping or other damage to the guitar neck.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images