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Last Updated: January 24, 2021
At some point in every guitar owner’s journey they’ll hear the following advice:
“You should oil your guitar’s fretboard.”
Good advice, but you don’t need to oil your fretboard very often, and when you do, you don’t need to use very much oil. I’ve seen 30-year-old guitars that have NEVER had their fretboards oiled, and they basically looked fine. I wouldn’t recommend never giving your fretboard a drink, I’m just saying: take it easy. Of course, your mileage may vary depending on how much you use/abuse your guitar.
Now, if oiling your fretboard is something you want to do, I’d like to make one very important point:
Your guitar is not a salad.
Don’t use oils on the fretboard that we humans can actually eat, such as olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, sesame oil, etc. Why? These food-grade oils have a limited shelf life. They eventually spoil. Do you REALLY want rancid oil deep inside your guitar’s fingerboard?
Every so often I hear of someone using food grade oils on their fretboard, and the reasons range from simply not knowing any better to straight-up misperceptions like, “If I can eat it, then it MUST be safe for wood.” People making the latter argument have obviously forgotten that edible items eventually spoil.
The following are things that I personally use (or have used) and recommend as safe and effective for oiling fretboards: