Friday, November 4, 2011

Care & Feeding of a Bass Guitar Neck

When I got my new ESP in the mail, I was a little underwhelmed with the condition of the neck.  The frets had a thin veneer of corrosion and the fingerboard just looked sad and dry.  But the body looked great and I thought maybe there was something I could do to bring the neck back to life.  To the internet!  So I found these two videos that addressed exactly what I was looking to accomplish.  One was for bass and the other was acoustic guitar, but rosewood is rosewood and frets are frets, right?

I was getting ready to change the setup of my ESP B-304.  Strings were off, so I thought I'd give the neck a whirl.  This guy recommended the 0000 steel wool, which you can get at the hardware store for a few bucks.  Good info, but I kept looking for more tips.

How can you not love a guy named MacGargal?  It's like MacGuyver + Gargamel.  And while he's working on an acoustic guitar, I think it all translates pretty directly to bass.  He cast another vote for the 0000 steel wool, so that's what I ended up using.  He also made two other important points:

1. Steel wool leaves little wooly metal fragments that love to stick to magnetic pickups, whether they are inside an acoustic guitar on on the surface of an electric bass.  Cover them up.

2. Go with the grain of the neck.  I initially went up and down between the fret like in the first video, and it leaves tiny little scratches.  If you really have mungy frets, you may have to do it, but I think going with the grain of the neck is the better way.

He also talked about neck treatment, recommending boiled linseed oil.  I used it, and it worked great.  Just a thin layer you wipe on and then wipe off really brought the wood back to life.  Make sure you get boiled linseed oil.  Raw linseed oil takes about 600 times longer to dry.  I know this from my experience with oil painting, and I'm fairly certain that's why he mentions using the boiled variety.

Like a genius I didn't take a before picture of the neck, but I'll put up an after shot when I finally do a post about my experience so far with the B-304.  Thanks, Elixir, for the awesome videos.


  1. Thanks for sharing these videos on how to clean acoustic and bass guitars. I have been using boiled linseed oil on the guitar's neck and it works great.

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    1. No problem. That's why I love the internet! I've been using boiled linseed myself and it really helps bring the wood back to life.