As was the case with my new uke, and often with cheaper new instruments, the condition of rosewood or dark wood fingerboards leaves a lot to be desired
Often the wood is drying out. In the best case this just looks unsightly and can feel rough, but if left untreated, in dry conditions can lead to the warping or splitting of the top surface.
This can be very simply treated, as I did.
Firstly though, if you have a maple fingerboard (pale yellow and shiny) you don't need a treatment as they are sealed. Also if you have a super cheap uke with a (ugh!) painted fingerboard, don't waste your time
But, if you have a rosewood fingerboard looking sorry and dry (looking pale) then a very simple application of an oil will do the trick.
In the past I have successfully used lemon oil, available from guitar shops, applied very thinly to the fingerboard of an unstrung instrument with a cloth. Allow 10 mins to soak in then polish. Fingerboard should now look darker and conditioned (and smell nice!)
I have recently read some bad things about lemon oil though, particularly some of the ingredients in modern versions that might actually harm the wood. I was pointed in the direction of Fret Doctor which is a bore oil. This is the stuff used to condition insides of clarinets, bassoons, bagpipes etc. This stuff just needs a drop on each fret space, spread out with cotton bud and leave to soak in.
I don't know if there is any truth in lemon oil stories, but I will say that the bore oil seems to be taken up by the wood better in my view, and leaves a nicer finish.
Either way though, if you have a dry fingerboard, you should think about conditioning in some way.
IMPORTANT - don't get carried away with this stuff! You need only a light covering, but more importantly, it's a once a year treatment, at most! If you over oil your wood you can similarly warp and ruin the finish. If the fingerboard looks dark and smooth, leave it alone!
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