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The fretboard of your guitar is crucial to getting a beautiful tone no matter what your skill level. Every note originates with a finger on your fretboard, so when it gets damaged from your fingers’ pressure and natural oil, it can affect how you sound.
To minimize some of this damage, invest in a great fretboard oil. The best fretboard oils and conditioners use natural oils, protect, clean, and add shine.
You can keep your guitars in good shape for a long time by maintaining them with conditioning oil. Read on to learn more.
What are the Best Fretboard Oils & Conditioners?
Guitar Fretboard Oils Reviews
This product is far and away one of the most popular fretboard oils out there, so you’ll be able to find it anywhere. This cleansing oil will clean up your board and hydrate an old surface.
For fretboards that need a little bit of extra conditioning, the F-ONE oil should be left on for a few minutes before the guitar is restrung.
Music Nomad F-ONE oil is also free of lemon extract. You can use lemon oil on some kinds of fretboards, but other kinds of wood will be seriously damaged by lemon oil, especially if it’s overused. Even a hefty dose of F-ONE won’t oversaturate or damage your guitar.
F-ONE is made of seed and tree oils that are entirely free of citrus oil. Some people also prefer the smell of F-ONE, which is much lighter and not quite as sharp as other fretboard oils.
- Doesn't leave the fretboard tacky
- Provides a shine that brings out the aesthetic qualities of any wood
- Light, pleasant smell that most people enjoy
- Slightly more expensive than other brands
Maintaining your guitar’s fretboard improves everything from its tone to its playability. To do this effectively, you need a combination of liquids that can clean, polish, and help to preserve the tonewood.
Some guitarists make the mistake of only using oil on their fingerboard, which may improve it to an extent, but to get the full benefits you also need to clean the wood using a specifically formulated lotion.
This PRS kit includes three 4oz bottles, containing “Guitar Cleaner,” which is designed to remove any marks or blemishes from the fretboard, “Guitar Polish,” which gives the wood a fresh and rejuvenated appearance, and finally “Tung Oil.”
The oil is used to restore the fingerboard to a new appearance and feel by lubricating it and soaking into the wood. You only need to use a small amount of the oil to get the benefits, and therefore it can last for a long time.
PRS has also included three microfiber cloths which are designed especially for wiping dust, dirt, and sweat from your guitar’s fretboard.
Regardless of whether you play an acoustic, electric or classical guitar, you’ll see instant benefits from using this trio of PRS fretboard liquids on your fretboard.
- Improves the appearance and feel of frets
- Removes sweat, dirt and marks from fingerboard
- Produces long lasting results
- Tung oil can easily be overused making the frets too slippy
Dunlop is a music company that makes dozens of different kinds of products for your guitar, including capos, strings, and effects pedals. Their lemon oil will protect the fretboard from wear and tear and extend the life of your guitar.
There’s hardly any actual natural lemon oil in the Dunlop 6554 oil, but it still shouldn’t be used on certain kinds of wood, such as finished maple, or be oversaturated onto the fretboard. That’s because it’s meant to mimic the quality of natural lemon oil.
Some guitarists don’t like the 65’s blotter-style applicator, which differs from the usual dripper style. That’s because it can be difficult to get a good amount of oil on the fretboard without pressing it on the wood itself. However, you can always put the oil in a different container or apply it to a towel instead.
- Keeps grime from building up for four to six months at a time
- Produced by a trusted brand
- Available at most brick-and-mortar guitar stores
- Cannot be used on finished maple fretboards
- Blotter-style applicator tends to apply oil inconsistently
If you want a nice and shiny electric guitar, the Fender Fingerboard Remedy will help you polish off your instrument. The company is one of the most popular guitar manufacturers.
This oil is perfect if you have a Telecaster or Stratocaster but will work just as well on any other guitar. It gives your instrument a protective sheen and enhances its appearance.
Since there’s no lemon oil in the Fingerboard Remedy, you can put this one on anything. It even goes on nitrocellulose finishes, which are found on some high-end guitars and usually require a special kind of cleaner.
The beeswax formula contains no resins, alcohols, silicones, or other unnatural bonding agents. This oil is a perfect high-end fretboard oil that won’t break the bank.
Unfortunately, customers outside the US may have a hard time finding this product.
- Works on all finishes, including maple and nitrocellulose finishes
- Works very well and shows off the wood grain
- Available at most brick-and-mortar stores
- Strong smell that many find unpleasant
Paul Reed Smith fretboard conditioner comes at a slightly more affordable price than some other oils but carries all the great benefits of other fretboard oils.
This lemon-based oil can’t be used on maple fretboards but is compatible with most other kinds of wood, including ones with nitrocellulose finishes.
Some reviews point out that the smell isn’t a classic “lemon” smell that most lemon oil-based conditioners have but instead has a floral scent added. Many players find the smell pleasant, while others complain that it’s too strong.
Other players note that the bottle design isn’t leak-proof like many drip-style bottles. If you keep the bottle in a stationary position, that might not be an issue for you, but you might be at risk for spills if you tend to carry your conditioner around.
PRS products tend to go well with PRS guitars, and plenty of guitarists swear by their fretboard conditioner. Ultimately, it all comes down to personal taste.
- Floral scent that’s formulated to mask the lemon smell
- Designed to bring out PRS guitars' wood qualities
- Goes well on dark, unfinished wood like ebony and rosewood
- Can't be used on maple fretboards
- Somewhat leaky bottle
Lizard Spit has a cool name, a gnarly bottle, and a unique formula that uses orange oil instead of lemon.
The company says this cleans and rehydrates fretboards more effectively than products with lemon oil and won’t harm any maple wood or nitrocellulose finishes. However, you should avoid using too much!
The company takes pride in this non-toxic biodegradable product. So, if you’re an environmentally conscious consumer who also wants to avoid getting chemical toxins in their body, this is probably the best oil for guitar fretboards you can get.
Lizard Spit Fretboard Conditioner makes cleaning products for instruments, automobiles, and boats. Some people swear by this conditioner, but if you’d prefer to buy from a trusted guitar manufacturer, you may like Fender or Dunlop’s conditioner.
This oil has an orange-tinged citrus scent, rather than a lemony scent, which some people enjoy and others strongly dislike. Again, it depends on the individual guitarist.
- Can be used on finished maple fretboards and nitro finishes
- Orange scent that many guitarists enjoy
- Purchase supports independent manufacturer
- More expensive than the other brands listed here
- Comes from a general cleaner & polish company, not a guitar manufacturer
Fretboard Oil & Conditioner Buyer’s Guide
The kind of fretboard oil you prefer will depend on one thing more than anything: what your fretboard is made of.
As mentioned above, you can’t condition finished maple fretboards with lemon oil. However, some guitarists swear that rosewood reacts to different oils than ebony, or mahogany to cherry, and so on.
Here’s how you can make sure you’re getting the best fretboard oil for your guitar.
How To Choose the Best Fretboard Oil
- Take other recommendations with a grain of salt. Guitarists will base their fretboard purchasing choices on their personal experience above all else, so bear that in mind when listening to the recommendations of others. Making a mistake like over-oiling is so common that they often don’t realize that this is actually what damages their instrument.
- Use well-known brands. Avoid using guitar oils from brands you don’t recognize, even if they claim to be more “natural.” Experts specially formulate fretboard oils like Lizard Spit Fretboard Conditioner and Fender Custom Shop Fingerboard Remedy, and indie brands don’t always offer a consistent mix.
- Know what kinds of oil don’t mix with your fretboard wood. For example, you can’t use lemon oil such as Dunlop 6554 Lemon Oil on maple wood.
What Does Fretboard Oil Do?
- Prevents fret sprout. Fret sprout is when parts of the fret jut out beyond the fretboard due to warping or shrinkage of the wood. Consistent conditioning will keep fret sprout from happening.
- Cleanses grease, grime, and other natural buildups on the fretboard. Fretboard oil like MusicNomad F-ONE Oil and PRS Fretboard Conditioner takes off the dirt and grease from your fingers without stripping the wood of its natural resonant properties.
- Improves the look of the wood. When you get all the dirt from your fretboard, it’ll look much more attractive in your hands and on the rack.
What Does Fretboard Oil NOT Do?
- Fixes cracks. If you have a micro-crack in your fretboard, DO NOT use fretboard oil to try and repair it—especially don’t let the oil soak into the fretboard before wiping it off. The oil will fill the crack and potentially widen it even more.
- Make your guitar easier to play. If you’re hoping for a major improvement in your playing after conditioning the fretboard, you’re likely to be disappointed. In fact, you may have trouble playing it immediately after using conditioning oil since the fretboard is more slick than usual.
Some of the top fretboard oils include:
- MusicNomad Oil Fretboard Conditioner
- Dunlop Lemon Oil
- Fender Custom Shop Fingerboard Remedy
- PRS Fretboard Conditioner
- Lizard Spit Fretboard Conditioner
Applying these oils and conditioners to your fretboard will ensure that your guitar stays in good shape. Don’t be afraid to try several kinds of oil to decide which best works for you. Your favorite oil might depend on the kind of shine it gives or even how it smells—just ensure it doesn’t damage your instrument.