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The Walnut - perfect for rosewood and ebony fretboards

The Walnut - perfect for rosewood and ebony fretboards  ·  Source: Pexels

Christmas is upon us and many of you may well have bowls of nuts laying around your home during the festive season. So I figured now would be a good time to share this little guitar trick…

Walnut fretboard treatment

The humble walnut has many properties – including reducing the risk of heart disease and supposedly being good for your brain. I can’t prove either of those two facts, as I am not a qualified doctor or medical scientist. But I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the humble walnut is perfect for cleaning rosewood and ebony fretboards!

Sure, you can go to your local guitar store and buy all manner of expensive and posh fretboard cleaning products whose makers claim to clean and condition your rosewood/ebony fretboards. I have probably tried most of the more popular ones myself over the years.

Bustin’ the nut

I have learnt, though, that a walnut, when rubbed on your favourite rosewood or ebony fretboard, can work wonders. First, you really should remove all your guitar’s strings as it will just cover them in nut gunk [Not good! Ed.] if you leave them on. That stuff is bad for tone!

If your fretboard is covered in nasty finger deposits and thick layers of dead skin/sweat/gunk, take a credit card or an old plectrum and scrape that rancid muck off first.

Now take your walnut, remove the shell and rub the kernel vigorously over the rosewood or ebony fretboard. It will create a lovely sheen as it deposits its oils into your wood. Yes, it will leave some old nut residue (fnarr, fnarr), but you can take a clean ‘lint free’ cloth and rub that off afterwards.

The walnut leaves nothing nasty on your fretboard and of course, has no nasty chemicals or fake smells. It will leave your guitar’s fretboard looking luxurious and healthy, plus it costs a lot less than any cleaning product you can buy.

This trick will not, unfortunately, work with maple fretboards. However, it will work wonders on both ebony and rosewood. I have heard that pecans also do a decent job as well…

by Jef

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Michael Suydam
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Food grade mineral oil works well too.


Kenny Lee
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Start out with some 0000 steel wool, to clean the junk off the board and to polish the frets. Then you can apply the walnut insane asylum treatment … that is, if you can find a walnut (we could not, in our store this holiday season!).