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Thread: Best Brazilian Rosewood Conditioner? Products that don't work or that may damage?

  1. #1
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    Best Brazilian Rosewood Conditioner? Products that don't work or that may damage?

    I want to "hydrate" some BRW necks and boards that appear to be drying out. Some have a few white spots...some have "faded" a bit. Most need a bit of "oiling".

    Is "Fret Dr" the most popular? I have this stuff already,.....




    but I've read on various forums that it's composed of solvents that can damage the Brazilian, so I'm looking for the "good stuff".

    What do you folks recommend to keep the Brazilian looking fresh and properly moisturized? Please provide your recommendations as well as any thoughts with regard to which products may actually do more harm than good.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    You are probably aware of the fact that the necks are dried out in heated drying rooms before assembly, yet despite this, still retain their inherent oiliness.

    The wood itself isn't lacking oils, and would probably take hundreds of years to "dry out". You probably also know that at the factory the necks are polished with plain old furniture oil (I think it's Behold, no doubt containing waxes and other chemical polishing agents) before shipping.

    The white spots are most likely just spots where surface polishes or handling detritus from your fingers simply leeched to the surface and dried. "Fading" isn't due to wood oxidation, as much as whatever they put on the neck at the factory losing its sheen. Kind of like oiling your hair; the oil just sits on the surface but makes the hair look darker.

    I'd bet that the necks *need* absolutely nothing, but it won't hurt if you clean them with a little lemon oil, and then use some Behold or whatever they use at the factory on the surface. Functionally, it makes them a little slicker.

    Most of the junk on the market is just "feel good" stuff that does absolutely nothing that is necessary. Some of it can harm wood. Some of it is just oil that attracts more detritus and dust. But the wood is stable enough that you probably can't hurt it too much. Anyway, there's a factory-recommended process on the PRS website that is pretty much what I've suggested. I don't see why you'd want to do anything differently from what the maker of the guitar recommends...

    I am seeing that some players use food-based oils on their wood surfaces; I sure as hell wouldn't put a food-based product that can turn rancid on a guitar neck.

    In fact, if you look at the picture of the 300 year old Stradivarius violin I posted on another thread, the varnish finish along the maple neck and back is rubbed away from hundreds of years of playing, yet the neck is not disintegrating. This is very typical of old violins. And maple is NOT an oily wood like rosewood.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 01-13-2013 at 12:58 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    You are probably aware of the fact that the necks are dried out in heated drying rooms before assembly, yet despite this, still retain their inherent oiliness.

    The wood itself isn't lacking oils, and would probably take hundreds of years to "dry out". You probably also know that at the factory the necks are polished with plain old furniture oil (I think it's Behold, no doubt containing waxes and other chemical polishing agents) before shipping.

    The white spots are most likely just spots where surface polishes or handling detritus from your fingers simply leeched to the surface and dried. "Fading" isn't due to wood oxidation, as much as whatever they put on the neck at the factory losing its sheen. Kind of like oiling your hair; the oil just sits on the surface but makes the hair look darker.

    I'd bet that the necks *need* absolutely nothing, but it won't hurt if you clean them with a little lemon oil, and then use some Behold or whatever they use at the factory on the surface. Functionally, it makes them a little slicker.

    Most of the junk on the market is just "feel good" stuff that does absolutely nothing that is necessary. Some of it can harm wood. Some of it is just oil that attracts more detritus and dust. But the wood is stable enough that you probably can't hurt it too much. Anyway, there's a factory-recommended process on the PRS website that is pretty much what I've suggested. I don't see why you'd want to do anything differently from what the maker of the guitar recommends...

    I am seeing that some players use food-based oils on their wood surfaces; I sure as hell wouldn't put a food-based product that can turn rancid on a guitar neck.

    In fact, if you look at the picture of the 300 year old Stradivarius violin I posted on another thread, the varnish finish along the maple neck and back is rubbed away from hundreds of years of playing, yet the neck is not disintegrating. This is very typical of old violins. And maple is NOT an oily wood like rosewood.
    Thanks for the advice Les. The problem is, and the raison d'etre for this thread, is the fact that I've heard from numerous sources that many products containing lemon oil are toxic to Brazilian wood...that they contain chemicals that can prematurely dry out the wood and do other damage. I've heard it from enough sources to conclude that I don't want to play with fire...or even tempt fate. I'm looking for a recommended product to "re-moisturize" the Brazilian wood. I've heard nothing but excellent reviews of "Fret Doctor" and wanted to run it past the forum to get some ideas.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by docbennett View Post
    Thanks for the advice Les. The problem is, and the raison d'etre for this thread, is the fact that I've heard from numerous sources that many products containing lemon oil are toxic to Brazilian wood...that they contain chemicals that can prematurely dry out the wood and do other damage. I've heard it from enough sources to conclude that I don't want to play with fire...or even tempt fate. I'm looking for a recommended product to "re-moisturize" the Brazilian wood. I've heard nothing but excellent reviews of "Fret Doctor" and wanted to run it past the forum to get some ideas.
    Lemon oil is naphtha with a scent in most cases. It's safe for rosewood, provided that you rub it off like any cleaning agent. A good alternative might be linseed oil. What isn't safe is so-called "rosewood oil" that contains the same chemical that's in turpentine. That stuff can damage the wood. The species of wood it comes from is colloquially called rosewood, but it is actually a species of evergreen, like pine, that turpentine comes from. The pinenes are what's harmful, theoretically.

    So I, who am VERY fussy, would use the lemon oil, and afterward I'd put a little slickum on it like the Behold, and be in business. The fact that the RW is Braz is irrelevant.

    Fret Doctor is a version of his bore oil for clarinets. Bore oil is needed on a wooden clarinet because basically the player is drooling and spitting into the instrument constantly while playing, and the instrument itself is a fairly closed-in environment. So after playing people dry them out first with an absorbent cloth on a stick, and occasionally then use the bore oil. Obviously if you spit into something for a few hours, and it's wood, and put away while wet, you're going to soften the wood with your spit. But that isn't the problem on a RW necked guitar.

    That environment doesn't exist on a guitar neck, and besides, your hands exude oils. So it isn't really necessary.

    I guess my point is that your wood doesn't need "re-moisturizing" because it hasn't really lost moisture; the oils in rosewood don't evaporate (unless you do something weird like leaving the thing out in the weather). This is why I think most of this stuff is "feel good" and not necessary at all. You're solving a problem that isn't a problem.

    On the other hand, if you want to feel good, I'd say Fret Doctor ain't gonna hurt anything.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 01-13-2013 at 03:15 PM.

  5. #5
    408 Sig Club President Twinfan's Avatar
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    I use Dunlop 65 oil - put plenty on, wipe off almost immediately. Works fine for me.

  6. #6
    The prs fretboard conditioner is quite nice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    Lemon oil is naphtha with a scent in most cases. It's safe for rosewood, provided that you rub it off like any cleaning agent. A good alternative might be linseed oil. What isn't safe is so-called "rosewood oil" that contains the same chemical that's in turpentine. That stuff can damage the wood. The species of wood it comes from is colloquially called rosewood, but it is actually a species of evergreen, like pine, that turpentine comes from. The pinenes are what's harmful, theoretically.

    So I, who am VERY fussy, would use the lemon oil, and afterward I'd put a little slickum on it like the Behold, and be in business. The fact that the RW is Braz is irrelevant.

    Fret Doctor is a version of his bore oil for clarinets. Bore oil is needed on a wooden clarinet because basically the player is drooling and spitting into the instrument constantly while playing, and the instrument itself is a fairly closed-in environment. So after playing people dry them out first with an absorbent cloth on a stick, and occasionally then use the bore oil. Obviously if you spit into something for a few hours, and it's wood, and put away while wet, you're going to soften the wood with your spit. But that isn't the problem on a RW necked guitar.

    That environment doesn't exist on a guitar neck, and besides, your hands exude oils. So it isn't really necessary.

    I guess my point is that your wood doesn't need "re-moisturizing" because it hasn't really lost moisture; the oils in rosewood don't evaporate (unless you do something weird like leaving the thing out in the weather). This is why I think most of this stuff is "feel good" and not necessary at all. You're solving a problem that isn't a problem.

    On the other hand, if you want to feel good, I'd say Fret Doctor ain't gonna hurt anything.
    Thanks again. And thanks for all the recommendations.

    Just to be clear, the reason for my question is that as a collector, I will sometimes go several months before rotating back to one of my guitars. During the several months between use, I've seen evidence of the wood drying out, developing "white spots", lightening...all the things I've mentioned.

    I understand that with regular and daily use, the conditioning I am describing is probably not necessary. Just seeking a "treatment" to deal with those periods of time when the guitar sits in its case, or on a stand for 3 or 4 months unused.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by docbennett View Post
    Thanks again. And thanks for all the recommendations.

    Just to be clear, the reason for my question is that as a collector, I will sometimes go several months before rotating back to one of my guitars. During the several months between use, I've seen evidence of the wood drying out, developing "white spots", lightening...all the things I've mentioned.

    I understand that with regular and daily use, the conditioning I am describing is probably not necessary. Just seeking a "treatment" to deal with those periods of time when the guitar sits in its case, or on a stand for 3 or 4 months unused.
    I just picked up a case queen. It is 7 years old and still had the original PRS strings on it. So unless the previous owners cleaned and oiled the BRW fretboard and then put the same strings back on, this thing didn't get anything for 7 years and the wood looked great. I did oil it with this stuff when I put fresh strings on, but it all wiped off and looked the same as before I did it.
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    I've used lemon oil on my rosewood for about 35 years and it has worked like a charm.
    I've only had rosewood necks since 2000, but have natural Brazilian rosewood furniture that I've owned since the 70s. The furniture gets lemon oil much more frequently than the instruments. The oil is always used only when there is a sign of some drying. For the guitars that is quite rare - maybe every couple of years for a fingerboard. I don't think I've oiled a neck more frequently than 5 years and even then it was just a bit at the heel.

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