I have used pure lemon oil to clean and lube rosewood guitar fingerboards for decades and always had good results, never a single problem. I do it every string set change, or if it is looking dull and dry in between changes, I use q-tips to apply to board thru the strings.
But I have switched to pure mineral oil for my banjo fingerboard. Seems to work fine, and is probably a better choice over lemon oil, but I do miss the fresh happy smell of the lemon oil filling the room, now that I don't use it anymore.
I would like to hear what others experience with oils on their banjo and guitar fretboards have been, what you prefer, and why. Thanks!
I've always used lemon oil on my guitars for many many years with good results. However, I only use it once a year or so. I have a friend that uses almond oil of all things with great results as well. I'm curious, why you no longer use lemon and have switched to mineral oil?
I use lemon oil at every string change as well. I clean the board, put down a thin layer of oil and whip it off, then polish it. I really like the look and smell. I haven't taken the time to do it between string changes however.
I use Bissell Oil Soap and Q-tips & cotton swabs to clean a fretboard before I apply the lemon oil. I suppose you could use Murphy's Oil Soap just as well as a cleaner. RR spikes & 5th string nuts will try to collect the cotton off the Q-tips and the swabs so you need to be careful in those areas, else you will be using tweezers to recover the cotton bits.
0000 steel wool with no kind of soap on it and make little pads of it to clean off finger gunk and blow it all off and chase w/least amount of lemon oil you can get away with. If truly gunky and 0000 alone won't get it off or won't clean frets, a dab of toothpaste in conjunction with 0000.
I bought the pure lemon oil at Walmart. I only switched to mineral because I had read in several spots that mineral was more pure than lemon, and I came across just a handful of comments (on other websites) that lemon oil had caused a few issues. I did not come across any such comments on the Net when it came to mineral oil. My new banjo means more to me than my guitars did, so I just want to be extra cautious with the banjo. I am sure the lemon oil is fine though. But even the pure lemon oil I use is quite a bit thinner than mineral oil, and the lemon oil tends to at least SEEM to evaporate the next day or so, even though I know its there and working, whereas the mineral oil keeps the wood looking slicker, smoother for a few weeks after I apply it. I think both oils are good though.
Mineral oil is preferred over, say, olive oil, for treating wooden ware that comes into contact with food. The reason given is that olive oil will go rancid in time and mineral oil won't. Well, I know you're not going to eat off your fretboard, but I'd check into properties of the various oils anyhow.
I've used Lemon oil for over thirty years with no problems. Some of my instruments needed routine repairs along the way and it didn't affect glue bonding or anything like that. Gibson, among others sells lemon oil for fretboard maintenance. I think anything should be used sparingly only as needed which seems to be a general opinion in this thread. I agree that 0000 steel wool is great for fretboard maintenance too.