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Dry winters. What oil should I use to moisturize the fingerboard?

2020-10-28

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Hello!
My name is Fujioka Takuto and I am a "guitarist with a good posture".
Thank you for visiting!

It's getting colder and colder, and it's time to worry about dryness.
Today we are talking about moisturizing the fingerboard, not about posture.
Thank you!

First of all, moisturizing generally means to "maintain a constant humidity so that something does not dry out". I think the guitar and the human skin are the same in the sense that the surface is coated with oil to prevent moisture from evaporating.

There are various opinions and thoughts about the moisturizing problems of the guitar, both pros and cons.
Rosewood and ebony fretboards are basically unfinished and require maintenance.
Some people will think, "Does the fingerboard need to be moisturized in the first place?" But it depends on the storage conditions of the guitar, the environment in which it is used, and the condition of the wood. I think each person has their own thoughts on this, but I'm in the group who wants to moisturize the fingerboard with oil. The color and feel of the fingerboard is better if it is well moisturized.

I think that the problem that arises is choosing the oil. There are various products out there, and I didn't really understand the differences at first.
Keep in mind that even oils sold for guitars can damage your instrument if used incorrectly. I recently learned that well-known guitar makers such as Gibson and Martin do not recommend the use of orange or lemon oil to moisturize the fingerboard. Simply put, it's too strong to take away moisture from the fingerboard, or it's too detergent-like and melts the guitar's adhesive. There was a person who summarized this in detail on the blog below, so I will post a link.
"Gear Otaku"

In other words, I interpret this as "orange oil and lemon oil are also effective in removing stains on the fingerboard, but they also have an adverse effect, so be careful not to overuse them". When I was a beginner, I used to want to apply orange oil to the fingerboard for no apparent reason, but that didn't mean that the guitar would break immediately. However, from a long-term perspective of 10 years and 20 years, it may become the cause of damage.

So, if the only purpose is "moisturizing", I think it is best to use oil that specializes in moisturizing.

From here, I would like to briefly introduce what I have investigated about the types of oils.
If you want to know more details, please check out Google!

First of all, there are three types of oil: dry, non-drying, and semi-drying.
When it comes in contact with air, oil oxidizes and naturally dries to form a coating. Non-drying does not oxidize easily even when it comes in contact with air, and it seems to dry very slowly.
Regarding the intended use, it is said that dry oil is used for oil finish and non-drying oil is used for wood maintenance.
In other words, I came to the conclusion that it seems better to use non-drying oil for fingerboard maintenance and moisturizing.

After learning this, I've been using coconut oil to moisturize the fingerboard.

Coconut oil is a non-drying oil and is said to be the most resistant to oxidation, and it seems to have various effects such as moisturizing capabilities, antibacterial properties, and antioxidant effects. Since it is a non-drying oil, it may be sticky, but it is not that sticky, and if you wipe it off after it has penetrated the wood, there is almost no discomfort, and it is moisturized perfectly. (It even has a sweet scent peculiar to coconut.)

It may be a little confusing, but I just applied coconut oil to a rosewood fingerboard. The texture after finishing also leaves a good impression.
I also found out that TOTO guitarist Steve Lukather uses coconut oil to care for his guitar.

Coconut oil can also be used to moisturize the skin. Depending on the person, it may not be suitable, but it is considerably more effective than general moisturizing creams. I had dry skin that powder-like, but since I started moisturizing with coconut oil, I almost don't need to care about dryness anymore. It was a very good discovery for me, one who is a crazy person, that I can moisturize my guitar and skin with the same coconut oil.

In modern society, there are so many convenient products, that choosing between them becomes difficult. But in the end, it makes me wonder if natural or old things are good for me, for the guitar, and for the environment.

Of course this is not all there is to it. I would appreciate it if you could take it as an opinion and one way of thinking. m (_ _) m
See you soon!

Fujioka

2018年より関西を中心に活動中。 BABY BABYというアコースティックユニットでギターを弾きながら作業療法士というリハビリの仕事をしています。 リハビリで学んだボディマッピングの視点から、ギタリストなら知っていて損はないカラダのことをテーマに執筆していきます。 思ったように体が動かなくてギターが弾けない!という方は必見です! また音楽活動を通じて感じたことや愛する機材についても時々発信していきます。
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