Best Oil for a Guitar Fretboard – For Keeping Your Axe in Tip-Top Condition

The fretboard is the most sensitive part of the guitar (the ‘nerve centre’) and the most important area of the guitar to take care of. As well as keeping it generally free of dirt, grease and perspiration that it naturally picks up from being played, the wood that your fretboard is made of contains natural oils which, if you let dry out, goes brittle and may crack. Using a fretboard oil is the only way to go to maintain long term health of your guitar.

picture of telecaster being cleaned

In this article we’re going deep dive into the best product for doing this. Here’s a quick glance of them if you’re in a hurry.

At a Glance: Best Fretboard Oils on the Market

PREVIEW PRODUCT FEATURES

Music Nomad MN105 F-ONE Fretboard Oil Cleaner and Conditioner

Music Nomad MN105 F-ONE
 

  • Safe to use on unfinished fretboards
  • Cleans as well as conditions
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Gerlitz Acoustic Guitar Case (GGH)

Gerlitz GGH Guitar Honey
  • Good for exotic woods
  • Non greasy
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Roche Thomas Accordion Accessory RT61

Roche Thomas
  • Leaves you with a nice smooth finish
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Music Nomad MN702 Bore Oil Cleaner and Conditioner for Wooden Bore Instruments, 2 oz.

Music Nomad MN702
  • Free from lemon extracts, water, petroleum.
  • Cleans and conditions
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Jim Dunlop 6554 Dunlop Ultimate Lemon Oil, 4 oz.

Jim Dunlop 6554
  • Good value
  • Easy to apply
  • Spreads really well
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Planet Waves Lemon Oil

Planet Waves
  • Cleans as well as conditions
  • Lightly scented
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Kyser Lem-Oil

Kyser Dr.Stringfellows
  • Handy spray applicator
  • Non-oily
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Peavey Lemon Oil

Peavey Lemon Oil
  • Cleans as well as conditions
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This is what we’ll cover…

What is Fretboard Oil?

Applying fretboard oil to your guitar conditions it and gives it a protective layer which stops moisture soaking into the wood, preventing cracks or chips. There are three main types; natural mineral, lemon and petroleum distillates.

Buying Guide – Key Considerations

Wood Types

One word of caution: don’t use nay of these on fretboards made of maple wood. Maple acts like a sponge and will saturate the neck. Only apply to rosewood or ebony woods.

Product Round-up & Mini Reviews – Best Fretboard Oil

Music Nomad MN105 F-ONE

Music Nomad MN105 F-ONE Fretboard Oil Cleaner and Conditioner

Starting with the very popular F-One by Music Nomads, it gets rave reviews whoever you talk to.

PROS

  • Made of natural oils
  • Free of lemon extract, if that worries you
  • Safe to use on rosewood, ebony and even maple
  • Cleans as well as conditions

CONS

  • Doesn’t have the softening effect that lemon and natural minerals have

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Gerlitz Guitar Honey

Gerlitz Acoustic Guitar Case (GGH)

Containing petroleum distillates, you need to take a bit more care handling it, but don’t let that take anything away from this product. It gives your fretboard a really good layer of protection and isn’t greasy or slimy. It’s also suitable for exotic woods such as Hawaiian Koa or Ziricote.

PROS

  • Great for dark woods, especially rosewood and ebony
  • Good for exotic woods

CONS

  • Contains petroleum distillates

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Roche Thomas

Roche Thomas Accordion Accessory RT61

Bore is a popular (but less well known) oil and a good alternative to lemon based substances. It’s used a lot by classical instrument owners to protect their wind instruments, and is made of ultra-refined tree and seed oils.

PROS

  • Leaves you with a nice smooth finish

CONS

  • Doesn’t leave a shine (or sheen) like some products give you

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Music Nomad MN702

Music Nomad MN702 Bore Oil Cleaner and Conditioner for Wooden Bore Instruments, 2 oz.

Another bore product this time from Music Nomads, the people behind the popular F-One (see above). This one is a cleaner and conditioner.

PROS

  • Free from lemon extracts, water, petroleum.
  • Cleans and conditions

CONS

  • None to mention

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Jim Dunlop 6554

Jim Dunlop 6554 Dunlop Ultimate Lemon Oil, 4 oz.

Known colloquially as ‘Fretboard 65’, this is one of the most popular lemon based substances. It come with a good applicator and smells great without making your guitar smell like a floor cleaner.

PROS

  • Great value
  • Easy to apply with the applicator
  • Spreads really well

CONS

  • Is a conditioner only, not a cleaner too like the other products on our list

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Planet Waves

Planet Waves Lemon Oil

Like the Dunlop above, this one by Planet Waves is another good lemon oil cleaner that applies easily to your fretboard and leaves a smooth finish and light lemony scent. In addition to conditioning, it is also cleans so serves as an all-in-one product.

PROS

  • Cleans as well as conditions
  • Lightly scented, not too overpowering

CONS

  • 2 Oz bottle is quite small compared to the others on the list

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Kyser Dr.Stringfellows Lem-Oil

Kyser Lem-Oil

Kysers Dr Stringfellows Lem-Oil polishes, protects and preserves your fretboard really well. It is not a cleaner, unlike other products on the list.

PROS

  • Handy spray applicator
  • 4 Oz bottle

CONS

  • Just conditions – no good if you also want a cleaner

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Peavey Lemon Oil

Peavey Lemon Oil

Our final lemon oil is from Peavey, this one is a cleaner and conditioner. The size of the bottle is on the small side (2 fl. oz) compared to other similarly priced products.

PROS

  • Cleans as well as conditions

CONS

  • 2 fl. oz bottle size relatively quite small
  • Quite expensive for the size

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So, Which Should I Choose?

For a non-lemon based product, I’d probably go with Music Nomad’s F-ONE as it cleans, conditions and leaves a decent finish.

For a lemon based oil, I’d choose the Planet Waves product from D’Addario. Although it’s only a 2 fl. oz bottle, it cleans as well as conditions so you save money that way. Plus it’s great quality.

 

Featured image source: Roadside GuitarsCC BY-SA 2.0

2 thoughts on “Best Oil for a Guitar Fretboard – For Keeping Your Axe in Tip-Top Condition”

  1. Another vote here for Music Nomad’s F-One oil. I’ve used just about every oil on this list (and a couple that aren’t), and the F-One has become my favorite. It’s all I use now. An added bonus is that you can use it on maple boards too (though I usually don’t).

    Nice roundup!

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