Can You Use Guitar Polish for Fretboard?


Every guitar has a fretboard, sometimes referred to as a fingerboard, a fragile component composed of wood and located around the neck. You may ask, “Can you use guitar polish on the fretboard “? Maybe for ‌proper maintenance and also because of the fretboard’s delicate nature.

However, you shouldn’t apply guitar polish on the fretboard because it is one of the guitar’s most essential and delicate elements.

What You Should Know About Cleaning a Fretboard

Given that the fretboard is frequently in contact with your hands and serves as the interface between the guitar’s body and the notes you play, the fingerboard, or fretboard, as it is more commonly known, is prone to becoming dirty.

Since the fretboard is always in contact with your hands and accumulates dirt, there is a constant effort to clean it.

And also, do not to clean your fretboard with any available guitar polish when it gets dirty. And not only will you not use guitar polish, but you also shouldn’t use any cleaning products that are not dedicated to cleaning fretboard.

However, it would be best if you didn’t let the dirt on your fretboard accumulate for too long since it might go inside the strings and reduce the guitar’s resonance capacity, impairing how well it sounds.

Another good reason ‌you shouldn’t leave the dirt on your fretboard unattended is that when the sweats and dirt dry up on the body, it makes it difficult for you to clean.

Sometimes, when you try to force the dirt out, it leaves some ugly-looking marks on the body. Thus, you may not enjoy seeing scratches on your guitar’s body.

This article will go through how to maintain and clean your guitar’s fingerboard since it is wrong to use guitar polish for the cleaning. But before that, let’s look at the different types of fretboards.

Types of Fretboard

Before you ‌buy any cleaning solution for any fretboard mentioned below, check the model and the specifications to know the right cleaner to use.

Manufacturers must have included some maintenance instructions, and it is advisable always to read and follow the instructions in the manual. So, there are three main types of fretboards.

  • Rosewood
  • Maple wood
  • Ebony wood

Rosewood Fretboard

Rosewood is the most popular type of guitar fretboard with many beautiful designs. In addition, Rosewood is adaptable and cost-effective, especially when you buy straight from India.

Perhaps because it is inexpensive and always in abundance, many manufacturers prefer to use this particular wood.

Maple Fretboard

Because of its lovely character, low cost, and wide availability, maple wood is a popular wood utilized by many guitar producers.

It has a bright color which makes it outstanding. And so for this reason, many guitar manufacturers spray the wood with a finish just before pressing on the frets.

The wood spraying causes a reaction between the finish and the wood. And thereby causes the color to change to a yellow-gold. Nitrocellulose or polypropylene finish protects the player’s finger and the wood.

Ebony Fretboard

Another popular wood type used to make fretboards is ebony, although it is the least common type. Manufacturers did not widely use it until recently. However, it is becoming a widespread choice of styles such as metal and can be used to produce many acoustic guitars for finger styles.

This ebony fretboard’s wood comes from West African forests. Although ebony is not as common as the other wood type, it is the brightest.

Steps on How to Clean a Guitar Fretboard – the Best Method

We will discuss here the cleaning process for Rosewood and Ebony guitar fretboards. We will discuss later how you can clean a maple fretboard.

cleaning guitar fretboard

Step 1

In this first step, you need to remove the strings; do not be afraid, as this won’t damage your guitar.

Step 2

Detach the neck of the guitar so that the cleaning solution does not run over the neck. If your guitar has a set neck, use masking tape or a piece of cloth to cover the neck pickup.

Additionally, if the guitar is an acoustic model, cover the sound hole with fabric.

Step 3

At this third stage, apply the cleaning solution to the frets. Do this until the 22nd or 24th, fret.

Step 4

Use steel wool to clean the surface immediately, so it doesn’t dry off. Keep doing this until you can longer see dirt; add more liquid solution if you need more to clean the dirt. Gentle cleaning is what you need, so you don’t scratch the surface of the wood.

Step 5

Take a clean towel and wipe off your fretboard once you’ve finished cleaning with the cleaner and are sure you have covered the entire portion.

Step 6

Again, use the steel wool to scrub the fret’s surface because this is a crucial step because, unlike metal, which may corrode, wood slowly gathers dirt. So doing will keep the frets shiny.

Step 7

For this stage, we suggest you use a naptha-saturated paper towel to clean all polished frets so that if leftover dirt is lingering around, it can get rid of them.

Step 8

After thoroughly cleaning your fingerboard, evenly spread fretboard oil over the whole surface to give your fretboard a shine. And if there is any remaining dirt, clean it with a microfiber cloth.

Step 9

The final step is to clean every fret with a paper towel.

You don’t need to use the oil again because doing so could harm your strings if the wood is unfinished.

How to Clean your Maple Fretboard

Cleaning your maple fretboard is almost the same as the steps above, but with a little difference.

The only thing to remember is that, in the fourth step, steel wool is unnecessary for the scrubbing because the abrasive tends to leave some swirls and scratches behind. Instead, it is best to use only soft materials on maple wood.

However, if the maple wood is unfinished, it is safe to use steel wool, but then do this with caution, and the use of abrasive is only necessary when the fretboard is extremely dirty.

But when the wood isn’t so messy, we suggest you use a dry or damp microfiber cloth for the cleaning. So with this cloth, you don’t need to use steel wool.

Recommended Cleaning Solution for Fretboards

There are several other types of cleaner and oil that you can use, but for the sake of this post, we chose these few fretboard cleaners for you.

1. Jim Dunlop lemon oil 10z bottle

2. MusicNomad Fretboard Care Kit MN144

3. Dunlop 6502 Formula 65 Guitar Fingerboard Care Kit

4. D’Addario Accessories Hydrate Fingerboard Conditioner 1oz


The fretboard or fingerboard is a vital part of the guitar that attracts more specks of dirt than any other part because it comes in contact with sweat, clouds of dust, and particles.

So, it would help if you endeavored to keep it clean to avoid building up specks of dirt that can permanently damage your precious musical instrument.

Sourav Biswas

Music is my life and I love to play guitar so much. It's been a part of me for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a musical family, and my parents were always supportive of my passion for music. I am also a freelance writer who has been writing for over 10 years. I have written for both online and offline publications, including Amazon and Medium.

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