Typically, we’re very hesitant to apply cleaners and polishes to our expensive guitars – it would be quite upsetting to inadvertently destroy the finish on a beautiful instrument. We don’t care for spray products because it’s easy to inadvertently get the spray on components you’d otherwise not wish to clean, and paste/wax-related products can leave a residue if you’re not careful in their application.
Thankfully, Ernie Ball came to the rescue with Wonder Wipes – a line of guitar cleaning products that are applied as easily as taking a pre-moistened baby wipe from the dispenser and applying it to your infant’s bottom. [Editor’s Note: We strongly discourage the use of baby wipes on musical instruments, and we further discourage the use of Wonder Wipes on your youngest family member.]
The three products in the collection are Instrument Polish, for removing smudges and grime from your guitar/bass body; Fretboard Conditioner, for cleaning your instrument fretboard and neck; and String Cleaner, for wiping down your strings to remove sweat, thus extending the life of your strings. We figured that if the folks at Ernie Ball are willing to use these cleaning products on Music Man guitars, then we shouldn’t have any reason to worry about using the wipes on our instruments (many of which are Music Man guitars and basses).
All products come in plastic bins that are designed for you to pull wipes from the top of the canister. We found that with a new, large-sized container of forty wipes, it was a bit tough pulling the first few wipes from the container without popping the lid.
Our favorite of the bunch might be the Instrument Polish. It worked great for removing grime, smudges, and fingerprints from the glossy finishes on our guitars – better than a damp rag, and much less fuss than with typical polishing agents applied to a cloth. We found that it was quite easy to clean two guitar bodies with a single wipe, too!
We also used the wipes on a guitar with a flat finish (an Ibanez RG-series model) and though it required a little more “elbow grease,” the wipes worked just as well on this finish, and in all cases, never left any sort of residue behind.
Next up was the Fretboard Conditioner. Featuring a “unique blend of orange, jojoba, and linseed oils,” not only did this product do a beautiful job of cleaning and restoring our maple and rosewood fingerboards, and the natural finishes on our hand-oiled/non-gloss guitar necks, but at least one staffer contemplated the product’s use as a natural insect repellent when applied to their body. We don’t have any official test results for that application!
As its intended purpose is to really clean your fretboard, you’ll have a much better experience with these wipes after removing the strings from your instrument. If you have a floating tremolo system, be sure to block it first before removing all of your strings or you’ll spend hours wrestling your guitar back in tune.
In all seriousness, though, follow the instructions, simple as they are. The Fretboard Cleaner gets applied, then sets for a few minutes, and then you’ll most likely need to wipe off the excess with a dry cloth (as we did). We might suggest purchasing the smaller sized package of this cleaner since cleaning your neck probably doesn’t need to happen more than once or twice per year, and the product might dry up in that amount of time. Or… buy the large pack and share it with your friends!
The String Cleaner, last but not least, is great for wiping down your strings after a gig, rehearsal, or extended jam. Typically, we’ve used a rag, but over time, the rag gets pretty nasty looking (and less effective) until washed. We liked using the string cleaner: simply wipe off your strings and discard, but as we’re not significantly sweaty shredders, we don’t know for sure if these will extend the life of our strings any better than a regular cloth. If you’re in the habit of doing nothing after playing, though, then it’s a certainty that these wipes will indeed work wonders.
Priced at $15.99 (MSRP) for the large forty-wipe containers and only $8.99 for twenty-five smaller wipes (in a smaller container that can fit in your guitar case or gig bag), these can be purchased at a discount from numerous retailers. It’s a small price to pay for simple cleaning products that work great with little fuss.