View Full Version : fretboard oil. Worth doing?

01-28-2015, 07:28 AM
Do you oil your fretboard?

I used to oil my old guitar because I was told I should.
Then I stopped playing for 10 years, and over the summer gave it to my niece when she expressed interest in learning to play. It seemed fine having not been oiled, and sitting in a corner for a decade.

So.. last night was noticing some fading under some of the strings of my uke, and was thinking... I should get some oil. But then it occurred to me today that the guitar didn't seem to care.

Is it really necessary, or is it snake oil (ie just cosmetic)?

Jon Moody
01-28-2015, 07:41 AM
I use Gorgomyte when I'm switching strings. It's a fretboard conditioner that treats the fretboard, but also cleans it as well as polishes up the frets, and the back of the neck. For me, the extra 5 minutes spent keeping everything looking clean and nice is worth it, and the neck feels better afterwards.

I know many luthier friends that treat the fretboard or fingerboard because, it is still wood that can dry out.

01-28-2015, 08:00 AM
That question could open a can of worms, there is a great variety of opinion about this on the 'Net. You can read the widely divergent views and probably just be confused. I know I was, but then I saw that Martin guitars just use 3 in 1 oil so I stopped worrying.

01-28-2015, 08:09 AM
I wipe them down whenever I change strings.

01-28-2015, 09:01 AM
I wipe them down whenever I change strings.

Same. I haven't felt the need to do more than that. I do wipe the body with a microfiber cloth after each session (pesky fingerprints!), but the fretboard doesn't require much maintenance apart from the occasional wipe imo.

01-28-2015, 09:11 AM
I wipe them down whenever I change strings.

Ditto. Oil helps prevent shrinkage and cracking. Real wood oil is the best. Ikea used to sell a great teak oil, not sure if they still do - you can get the stuff from most hardware stores.

You have to really wipe it down well afterward, so it doesn't get sticky. I recently used hemp oil - be careful what you buy because hemp and many other oils often have additives which make a smeary mess and get very sticky after.

I know guitarists who swear by Pledge or similar furniture polishes, but I think they can dry out the bare wood. There are also specific guitar oils made for this.

mm stan
01-28-2015, 09:24 AM
I've never oiled any of my fretboards, in fact I cleaned them and prefer the dry clean feel and look...hawaii of course has a stable climate...

01-28-2015, 12:40 PM
Oils from your hands are probably enough to keep your FB from drying. If you want, you can use mineral oil, sparingly, once or twice per year. Put some on, let it absorb in, then wipe off all the excess. Too much oil can loosen the frets. Don't overdo it.

01-28-2015, 01:52 PM
I agree that it may be possible to overdo it....oily wood is just plain slippery. But I do use lemon oil (I lost my can of fretboard butter) each time I chagne strings. It feels better, looks better, and the wood literally soaks it up. I live in Florida.

01-28-2015, 03:57 PM
This is the good stuff right here:


LoPrinzi Fingerboard Conditioner (http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/loprinzi-fingerboard-conditioner), available at Uke Republic.

Dab it on and wipe it off. A thirsty fingerboard drinks it in, with no residue remaining.

Inksplosive AL
01-28-2015, 11:07 PM
Lifetime supply of lemon oil here! http://www.walmart.com/ip/Old-English-Lemon-Oil-16-oz/13424637

May darken lighter woods.

I put it on quite liberally using a q-tip and after sitting for 5-10 minutes I wipe it down. No mess.

01-29-2015, 12:59 PM
This is the good stuff right here:


LoPrinzi Fingerboard Conditioner (http://cargo.ukerepublic.com/product/loprinzi-fingerboard-conditioner), available at Uke Republic.

Dab it on and wipe it off. A thirsty fingerboard drinks it in, with no residue remaining.

It is the best! I just can't find mine....you'd think I'd find time to drive the 20 minutes to get another from Donna.

01-29-2015, 01:33 PM
I've used Fret Doctor oil for some time now. A little pricey, but my bottle is a couple years old and is still two thirds full. I've oiled numerous fretboards, and brought some super dry vintage fretboards back to very nice condition. I do think that Stan has a great point about climate. If you live in a dry climate, I'd highly recommend a quick once over with a good oil, whnen you change strings is all. If you live in Hawaii, your fretboard won't dry out easily, and particularly if you are Stan, you never have to worry about it because you have an endless supply of fine ukuleles and master luthier friends who will build you new ones! ;)

01-29-2015, 02:07 PM
Dunlop 65 http://www.jimdunlop.com/product/fretboard-65-ultimate-lemon-oil is the main go to for lots of folk. I would think that steel string instruments may need it more than non-steel due to the abrasive nature of the steel strings (in more ways than one!) .

Definitely just give them a quick light wipe. You don't want to soften the fretboard wood.

01-29-2015, 03:00 PM
I use "Lizard Spit" available thru Elderly Instruments. Apply a small amount each time I change strings. I like it, don't know if it's necessary...but I do it anyway.