#1
So I need some schooling here on this thing. My main axe is an Epiphone Thunderhorse, one sexy beast of a guitar. I instantly knew I had to have it the second I played it, the fretboard was the slickest thing in the world, it sounded great, the explorer body shape was incredibly comfortable in a seating position, and the finish was incredible.

However, once I actually purchased it, I didn't realize that the fretboard wasn't a type of traditional wood.

It's apparently "Phenolic" yet when doing google searches scouring the dead parts of many forums most people don't know anything about maintaining a phenolic fretboard. I want this beauty of a guitar to last, so I want to know how to thoroughly clean the fretboard. It's not overly dirty but still.

I know Gibson has something called "Richlite" and Martin uses "Micarta" but even so I can't really find any solid information on what exactly a phenolic board is and it's properties.

Is it as simple as wiping with a damp cloth? scrubbing with a tooth brush? I read some people use WD40 to clean a phenolic board, but there's no way in Hell I'm doing that.

Any informational responses are much appreciated. Rock on guys!
Last edited by anthonymarisc at Oct 27, 2015,
#2
There's objectively nothing wrong with them. From my understanding, its an epoxy resin-like material that's very durable and dense.

Just clean it with a rag and a bit of lighter fluid for dirt that's harder to remove. There aren't any pores in the material for dirt to get trapped in, so cleaning them is easy.
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#3
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
There's objectively nothing wrong with them. From my understanding, its an epoxy resin-like material that's very durable and dense.

Just clean it with a rag and a bit of lighter fluid for dirt that's harder to remove. There aren't any pores in the material for dirt to get trapped in, so cleaning them is easy.


If the need ever arises to use something like Naphtha which I've never used before. I don't suppose you'd think it would discolor the board at all right? I wouldn't think so...
#4
From what I understand, phenolic, richlite, ebonol and all out all of the other artificial fretboards can be cleaned with just a cloth, maybe dampened and using a tiny bit of mild soap. No need for lemon oil or anything special- they're pretty impervious resins.

That said, at least one source I know of suggested using a little WD-40 on phenolic, since it is a little less impervious than some of the others, and WD-40 displaces deposited moisture and prevents absorption in the future.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
Last edited by dannyalcatraz at Oct 27, 2015,
#5
Quote by anthonymarisc
If the need ever arises to use something like Naphtha which I've never used before. I don't suppose you'd think it would discolor the board at all right? I wouldn't think so...

Nope. Lighter fluid is safe to use on all guitars.
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Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

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#6
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Nope. Lighter fluid is safe to use on all guitars.

...that are not near open flames.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#9
If its phenolic resin then you can use anything that you would use to clean Bakelite or most snooker (pool) balls. All of earlier posts suggestions will be fine.
#10
Quote by whirlpool
If its phenolic resin then you can use anything that you would use to clean Bakelite or most snooker (pool) balls. All of earlier posts suggestions will be fine.


Unfortunately Epiphone's website doesn't specifically specify what the fretboard consists of, simply they state it as a "Phenolic Fretboard".
#11
it's a laminate made from thermoset epoxy resin and fiberglass. it's usually tropical puss green or orange-brown but i suspect epi is putting carbon black into it for color. it's also used for circuit board material.

as there are quite a few different grades of "phenolic" also known as garolite, g10, garolite xx, g9, etc.. and epi isn't talking, i'd suggest mild stuff to clean with first. you won't have to oil it down 2x a year like a wood board either. just easy cleaning and a simple fret polish. it does scratch fairly easily with sharp objects so take care, but it should last you a long time.

my only concerns regarding solvents and penetrating oils (wd-40) is that one never knows what if any glues are being used to bed down the frets nor hold down the fret markers or what the fret markers are even made of. a solvent or penetrating oil could loosen up this glue over time or eat into the dots resulting a post to the forum saying "my guitar buzzes, frets popped up -epi sucks" or "everclear ate my dots" or something like that.

fwiw, a heavy gouge on the stuff will require epoxy to fill. not a big deal actually but just fyi.
Last edited by ad_works at Oct 27, 2015,
#12
Quote by ad_works
it's a laminate made from thermoset epoxy resin and fiberglass. it's usually tropical puss green or orange-brown but i suspect epi is putting carbon black into it for color. it's also used for circuit board material.

as there are quite a few different grades of "phenolic" also known as garolite, g10, garolite xx, g9, etc.. and epi isn't talking, i'd suggest mild stuff to clean with first. you won't have to oil it down 2x a year like a wood board either. just easy cleaning and a simple fret polish. it does scratch fairly easily with sharp objects so take care, but it should last you a long time.

my only concerns regarding solvents and penetrating oils (wd-40) is that one never knows what if any glues are being used to bed down the frets nor hold down the fret markers or what the fret markers are even made of. a solvent or penetrating oil could loosen up this glue over time or eat into the dots resulting a post to the forum saying "my guitar buzzes, frets popped up -epi sucks" or "everclear ate my dots" or something like that.

fwiw, a heavy gouge on the stuff will require epoxy to fill. not a big deal actually but just fyi.


Very good post, whats interesting is I bought the guitar new. But the fretboard is slightly worn under the high E string. So the rest of the fretboard is black and then I have this very faint brown line underneath the high E. I love the guitar to death but that's a minor cosmetic gripe I have with it. I love Epiphone, they make great guitars.
Last edited by anthonymarisc at Oct 27, 2015,
#13
Quote by anthonymarisc


I know Gibson has something called "Richlite" and Martin uses "Micarta" but even so I can't really find any solid information on what exactly a phenolic board is and it's properties.

Is it as simple as wiping with a damp cloth? scrubbing with a tooth brush? I read some people use WD40 to clean a phenolic board, but there's no way in Hell I'm doing that.


Richlite, Micarta and "phenolic" board are the same things -- resin reinforced with (in this case) paper, formed with high heat and pressure. It's very tough, resistant to change from things like moisture, temperature, etc. It's used for knife and gun grips, etc., and isn't bad as a fretboard. You can clean it with almost anything, including a soapy rag, and it doesn't need anything applied to it (such as mineral oil) as is done with fretboards. WD40 works, but you'd want to consider what it might affect on the rest of your guitar.
Last edited by dspellman at Oct 28, 2015,
#14
Quote by dspellman
Richlite, Micarta and "phenolic" board are the same things -- resin reinforced with (in this case) paper,


regarding phenolic, -that's just not correct. "phenolic" is pf resin bonded with layered fiberglass cloth. it would not achieve any fr rating with a paper component.

true of micarta and richlite though, it's binder is cellulose fiber.