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#380395 - 08/09/06 11:02 PM lemon oil versus linseed oil  
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John Voorpostel Offline
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This came out ogf the changing strings discussion and probably deserves its own discussion. The answer is likely personal preference, but I would like to hear the fors and againsts of each.


The only thing I know is that lemon oil is thinner and a bit more astringent (acidy), while linseed oil is thicker and the swedish linseed oil I prefer is "ph balanced" (ie not too alkaline and not too acidic)


Anyone else have info on this??


If writing ever becomes work I think I'm going to have to stop

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#380396 - 08/10/06 01:26 AM Re: lemon oil versus linseed oil  
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In general, even the best linseed oil based product will harden as a softer sort of resin than lemon oil, and will also absorb moisture more readly. Those are two strikes against linseed oil, when used as either a finishing or cleaning material for wood.

Keep in mind that there are many wood finishes available today that combine linseed oil with eurethane, a synthetic plastic material. I doubt that anyone would use any of these to treat a fingerboard, but just in case, I thought I'd better mention it. These are NOT what you'd use on a fingerboard, unless for some reason you've decided that the (traditionally unfinished) fingerboard should have a finish like the rest of the instrument. Don't laugh, lot's of maple fingerboards on electric guitars have a finish not very different from the back of the neck.

FYI, my perspective comes from building and repairing guitars, as well as building and repairing furniture.

Hope that helps,
Emmit Sycamore


[This message has been edited by EmmitSycamore (edited 08-09-2006).]

#380397 - 08/10/06 11:43 AM Re: lemon oil versus linseed oil  
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Ray E. Strode Offline
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Over the last 50 or so years I have never seen or heard of anyone applying anything to a fret board on a Guitar except on this board. It should be noted that the woods used to make a guitar or other instrument are aged for several years before they are cut and sized. Most fretboards are rosewood but I think some are maple. These woods are very hard and durable and should need no further treatment unless you want to clean them from time to time. Perhaps a lemon cleaner is ok but since I have never used anything I don't know if it's ok or not.

Linseed oil or some other named simular product is probably used to slow down the curing of wood so it doesn't warp as it ages. Fret boards are already aged sufficently and should need no added treatment.

So I would do nothing to a fretboard unless I wanted to clean it from time to time.

It has also been mentioned from time to time that you should have a guitar "Set Up" before you play it.
Guitars come out of the factory ready to play. So unless you need some special adjustment before you can play it, leave it alone! Some guitars are made so the buyer can adjust it himself. If a guitar doesn't feel right find one that does.


Ray E. Strode
#380398 - 08/10/06 03:40 PM Re: lemon oil versus linseed oil  
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Not true about fretboards being properly aged. Most times, the wood that is available to the maker is used - whether aged or not. Years ago, fretboards were mostly ebony. Then it became rare (i.e., expensive) and rosewood was introduced. Fender uses Maple in a lot of their electric instruments, and through the years many other types of woods have been used. Some fingerboard woods have a finish, some are left natural. In most cases, the wood used IS kiln dried to specific specs, but not always "aged."
And it depends on the player as to when and if the fingerboard needs cleaning. I had a plumber friend that hardly ever cleaned his hands sufficiently before playing. His fingerboards were often grimy and needed to be cleaned more than someone with better hygiene. Some people have more acidic sweat than others and this affects the fingerboard as well.
As with any of the oils, too much could soften the wood around the frets and make the frets loose. NOT a good thing. Lean towards less is best.
Dan Erlwine sometimes recommends SPIT and muscle. Try rubbing it out with a soft cotton (old T-shirt) first. Saliva is a good cleaner and is often used first before any corrosive material.

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#380399 - 08/10/06 04:10 PM Re: lemon oil versus linseed oil  
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Quote
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Ray E. Strode:
Over the last 50 or so years I have never seen or heard of anyone applying anything to a fret board on a Guitar except on this board. It should be noted that the woods used to make a guitar or other instrument are aged for several years before they are cut and sized. Most fretboards are rosewood but I think some are maple. These woods are very hard and durable and should need no further treatment unless you want to clean them from time to time. Perhaps a lemon cleaner is ok but since I have never used anything I don't know if it's ok or not.

Linseed oil or some other named simular product is probably used to slow down the curing of wood so it doesn't warp as it ages. Fret boards are already aged sufficently and should need no added treatment.

So I would do nothing to a fretboard unless I wanted to clean it from time to time.

It has also been mentioned from time to time that you should have a guitar "Set Up" before you play it.
Guitars come out of the factory ready to play. So unless you need some special adjustment before you can play it, leave it alone! Some guitars are made so the buyer can adjust it himself. If a guitar doesn't feel right find one that does.
</font>


Unfortunately this is a myth.

Wood is a very reactive substance to the elements. When it's humid it picks up water, when it's arid, it loses water. When it's hot it can warp, when it's very cold, it can warp. All based on the water content in the wood. You have to take care of your instrument and keep it properly hydrated just like you would your body.

I realize, I'm the one that mentioned using Lemon Oil on the fingerboard. The reason I do that is specifically to keep the wood hydrated. I was taught that from one of the top guitar repair guys that was the tech to the stars like Clapton, Malmsteen, etc... I've also picked up my techniques from the repair guys from Taylor Guitars. I'm not going to ignore the advice of someone who knows wood. I've never heard of using linseed oil on the finger board, but I have heard of using it on the back of a neck that has no finish.

Personally I specifically have my necks built without finish. I can't stand it. I don't even use linseed oil - only what the oil the maker puts on the first time to seal it. It slows it down. I do from time to time give it a rub down with 0000 grade steel wool to remove any build up going on. The only guitar with finish on the neck is my Taylor. If I could get them to make it without it, I would.

As for a guitar that comes straight from the factory "ready to play". The reality is, it's good in theory but isn't entirely correct. Yes, they have the ability to get it ready to play. But things change between the time the guitar is shipped and finally picked up in your hands. It could be more or less humid, which could lead to sharp frets, or even the possibility of the truss-rod being misaligned. String height is a personal preference. The intonation could be off, etc. the list goes on. Most pro's will have their guitar setup by their tech immediately after purchase, or if they know what they're doing, they'll do it themselves.

Its never safe to assume the instrument is 100% ready to go when it's up on the wall for sale.

Jody

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#380400 - 08/10/06 05:05 PM Re: lemon oil versus linseed oil  
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John Voorpostel Offline
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I'm with you Jody.


Rosewood and other more porous AND UNFINISHED fingerboards need to retain some oils to ensure they do not contract and expand with the "outside" humidity.


My understanding of the theory is that one side of the fingerboard is "rigid" where it meets the neck, while the other side is exposed to the elements. Maintaining a uniform "absorbed oil" level makes the board stable and feels better. This I learned from professionals I leached off of in my early years.


But these same folks also suggested swedish linseed oil and being the "best" ....which is why I raised the question.


I did look up the question on the web, and apart from what I knew and stated, some also said linseed oil lasts longer than lemon oil, but there is no concensus as to which is better....


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#380401 - 08/10/06 07:09 PM Re: lemon oil versus linseed oil  
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Dak Lander Offline
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Ray, Ray, Ray.....
Jody nailed it, as usual.

I normally use Lemon Oil but will use Orange Oil also. Both not only do a nice job of cleaning but helping the fretboard as well.

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#380402 - 08/10/06 09:01 PM Re: lemon oil versus linseed oil  
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Ray E. Strode Offline
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Humm,
I do believe every subject under the sun has it's share of old wives tales. In fact there are probably more old wives tales than there are old wives. Have any of you who has purchased a new Guitar found instructions included on "Oiling the Fret Board from time to time"? I purchased a new Gibson J-200 back in 1994 and found no such instructions.
I do believe myths get passed around and finally are accepted as fact.

While I don't know for sure I seriously doubt that the Major Guitar makers Kiln Dry their wood. True some wood may be kiln dryed but for instruments? I doubt it.

Wood that is allowed to dry naturally will have a better sound and is less subject to warping.

A local guitar maker told me he allows a year per inch to dry. That means, for you folks in Rio Linda, that if a log is 12 inches accross it takes 12 years before he checks it to see if it is ready to saw. He has attended the major factory school and is qualified to repair instruments such as Martins and Gibsons.

I visited the Martin Factory a few years ago and they have a master craftsman that checks each phase as the guitar proceeds thru the factory. It takes about 3 months for a guitar to be finished ready to ship to the store. Some may take longer.

If a guitar wasn't ready to play upon leaving the factory how long do you think that guitar maker would stay in business?

But I digress. If you want to use your guitar for a boat paddle who am I to argue.
Git out the saddle soap!


Ray E. Strode
#380403 - 08/11/06 01:19 AM Re: lemon oil versus linseed oil  
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Ray, I'm not arguing with you. I'm going upon the word I get from highly respected tech's who fix the problems that are inherent to guitars.

I've taken the tour of the Taylor factory, I know they "age" their wood too. My guy that custom makes my guitars does the same. But aging the wood has absolutely nothing to do with the change in humidity or temperature once the guitar leaves the factory.

Yes, I would agree that guitars are supposed to be ready to play when they leave the factory. But that's if the world had the same humidity & temp every where you go. That's not reality. I used to give guitar lessons and the first thing I'd tell any student that asked about their guitar they just bought was "did you get it setup?" 100% of the time it was no. Was it still playable? Sure. Was it in perfect playing condition? No. Also, stores that are concerned with quality control will send a guitar back to the maker before you ever see it. So what they sell is damn close to ready to play for the average person.

Minor adjustments of any kind, be it string size, humidity, temperature, how hard you press the strings, etc... They all effect the guitar. Those are things no guitar maker has over quality control once the guitar is out their door.

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[This message has been edited by Whitesides (edited 08-10-2006).]


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#380404 - 08/11/06 02:27 PM Re: lemon oil versus linseed oil  
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Tom Tracy Offline
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Ok Ray, I'll agree with you.
I shouldn't make generalizations either. I don't know for sure if everyone uses kiln dried wood. Just like I know that everyone doesn't use aged wood. Instruments I build, I use what is available to me - more often than not, it's kiln dried wood - I have no idea how long it's aged when I get it, and I'd venture to guess that a lot of the "lesser quality" manufactures that are making the cheaper quality instruments that are having problems use what's available. I can't prove it - just a guess based on some of the instruments I've seen that I've had to repair over the years.

I also agree that aged wood in general IS tonally better. But not EVERYONE has the means or ability to have wood sitting around stock piled.
Getting back to the oil issue, I don't think it's needed that often. I used it once on an old instrument that I was repairing, because it needed it (once in about 20 years of sporadic instrument repair). Most times, too much oil is more harmful. Good solid wood acoustic instruments need to be hydrated(as Jody discussed). But that's moisture control (water not oil). As for lemon oil versus linseed during a regular string change - I'd lean toward no oil.

What makes me happy, is that it seems like people here really do care about their instruments and want to do what's best for them. And that's a good thing.

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#380405 - 08/11/06 03:55 PM Re: lemon oil versus linseed oil  
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All of you folks possess a plethora of good pertinent information. I agree with a lot of it and disagree with a little. As far as using more goo on my neck...I'm trying to clean most of it off. I've mentioned before that I use four ought steel wool to clean the fretboard. I've even used a topical fretboard conditioner. It really didn't do much other than darken the color and give it a little shine. I used it very sparingly. I don't believe it was waxy or oily. If it was oil based it was very light oil. Made by Gibson or Martin I think. As far as the other oils like linseed and citrus, more for furniture and gun stocks than finely tuned instruments. I know that back in the mid 80's linseed got a bad rap from sportsmen because of a tendancy to spontaeneously combust on the rags it was used with.

#380406 - 08/13/06 02:05 PM Re: lemon oil versus linseed oil  
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Hey folks,
I've used the lemon oil for years on the rosewood finger board with great results. I use it each and every time I change strings which is quite often. Another thing I do that may seem bad is use car wax on the body each and every time. I've owned a les paul for 31 years and it has no ill effects what-so-ever from the oil or the wax. I have used Mothers carnauba wax for at least 10 years. Prior to that I used Turtle wax, sometimes with teflon. Again, the guitar is in great condition with the binding a little yellow. On my tele with maple fretboard I use the Mothers wax. Like Jody I also use steelwool on fretboard including the frets to shine the hell out of them. Logic would say I'm wearing down the frets, however, the guitar just had a set-up with the frets measured. Good to go. We do many things the same and different. I would not recommend my way on high end acoustic's as I have no experience there.
Best to all,
Dan

#380407 - 09/11/06 08:19 PM Re: lemon oil versus linseed oil  
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It has been my experience that you have two different things to consider when you are talking about care for the fretboard. The first is the general dryness of the surface of the wood. You do not want a completely dry piece of wood because that means the wood shrinks and cracking can occur if it is subsequently exposed to a more humid environment. While a fretboard is less likely to do this than other parts of a guitar, I have seen a number of very old guitars with the fretboard split because they were allowed to dry out too much.

Ebony and rosewood, which are the most common woods for fretboards have a great deal of natural resins/oils, especially rosewood, but the wood can dry out. One guitar making technique for gluing these woods to other woods like mahogany is to bleach some of the resins/oils out with acetone so that the glue can better adhere to the two surfaces. This was especially true in the early days when the only glue they used was horse hide glue for stringed instruments. The very best preventative from the fretboard cracking is playing the guitar frequently. The natural oils from the hand do help preserve the woods better than other added oils. Of course you have to use the whole neck to be completely effective with this. However, an old instrument that has been neglected, especially if it has been stored in a very arid location where the fretboard has been allowed to dry out, needs some treatment. Using something like linseed oil is probably a good idea to help restore the wood, hopefully without causing it to crack.

The second consideration is how dirty is the fretboard from those same fingers that have been helping to maintain the wood. If it is too cruddy with a thick build-up of gunk, then lemon oil is more astringent and will help you clean off some of that gunk. I have used them both over the years and consider them both as applications for different purposes.

Obviously, this argument does not apply to a maple fretboard, either finished or unfinished. There is no advantage to applying oil to a finished surface. I am not sure what is best on an unfinished maple fretboard. When Fender first started making guitars with maple on the fretboard, they finished the surfaces. I have seen more recent guitars with maple fretboards that are not finished. I do not like them at all, but I also have no experience with them, so whether and oil of any kind provides a benefit, I cannot say.


[This message has been edited by swainja (edited 09-11-2006).]

#380408 - 11/15/06 03:21 PM Re: lemon oil versus linseed oil  
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Johnny Daubert Offline
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Olive Oil! Hmmmm!

Good for playing and eating! I'm not into the X Virgin thing though, (what the heck is that all about?) but ya know some people!!

Just good ole regular grade Olive Oil!
Try it for frying up eggs, and add some garlic and oinions! Then wipe the fretboard with some of the left over oil from the pan, (make sure there is no egg yoke mixed in).
If so, just speed up the tape after recording.

One Oil,,,,,many uses!

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