WT. Foster Guitars Tech Tip of the day April 21, 2015
There are several reasons fingerboards dry out. Players living in very hot and dry areas and regions requiring indoor heating for a significant portion of the year are much more likely to have their guitar fingerboards dry out because the humidity is low.
Those living in these types of environments definitely need to apply a coating of fingerboard oil to keep the fingerboard wood suitably moist. There are many fretboard conditioners on the market priced from $3 to $10 for a small spray bottle; every guitar owner should have this on hand along with a 100% cotton cloth for application and removal. There are all sorts of products and kits available, your local instrument store can help you choose one.
WT. Foster Guitars uses linseed oil to quench the fingerboard which is a long standing tradition amongst Luthiers and craftsmen and is available at most hardware stores. If you choose to use linseed oil, follow the instructions on the bottle for safe disposal of rags used to apply the product. It is our opinion that this the best product for fingerboards however it takes a little more care in applying and removal of the oil. Apply 4 or 5 small drops on the fingerboard, wipe and spread to cover entire fingerboard and let stand no more than a minute. Using a clean cloth, wipe off any residue left on the fingerboard and make sure you clean the back and sides of the neck. This should only need to be done once or twice a year it is an excellent wood moisturizer and preservative.
In some cases your guitar may have a white residue in the grain of the rosewood; it’s possible that some sort of preservative was applied to the fingerboard before shipping and when the residual moisture evaporated, it turned into a powdery substance. In order to remove this substance, wash the fingerboard with a small amount of soapy water and use an old tooth brush to scrub the fingerboard, this will remove all the residue and grime. Dry the fretboard thoroughly before applying your conditioner/linseed oil.
Final note do your fretboard care and conditioning when you change the strings on your guitar, all conditioning products will deaden guitar strings with an oily build up.