Should You Oil a Maple Fretboard?

Now that you know whether or not you should oil a rosewood fretboard, many of you may be wondering: should you oil a maple fretboard?

The answer hinges on two important factors: whether your maple fretboard is finished/sealed, or unfinished/unsealed.

Let’s look at each scenario a little deeper and get to the bottom of whether or not you need oil for your maple guitar fretboard.

Finished Maple Fretboards

If your maple fretboard on your guitar is finished or sealed, then you do not need to treat it with fretboard oil. Instead, use a polishing cloth, perhaps with a little moisture from your breath or a light dip in a little bit of water. This should get the job done just fine.

The reason you don’t need fretboard oil on a finished maple fretboard is as follows: because the wood of your fretboard has been finished or sealed, it actually is already sealed against any outside elements. This means adding a layer of fretboard oil won’t do anything, as the wood is sealed off with a layer of finish to keep it from absorbing any outside material.

So if you do add oil, it will simply sit on top of the finish that is already there, and won’t even soak into the wood, which is the whole point of applying fretboard oil.

Unfinished Maple Fretboards

While unfinished maple fretboards are rare, they do exist. In an unfinished maple fretboard, the wood of the fretboard is left exposed rather than sealed off. This means that it can absorb material that is applied to it, such as fretboard oil.

So if you do have an unfinished maple fretboard, it may be beneficial to apply fretboard oil as appropriate. 1-3 times a year is what we recommend for how often to apply fretboard oil. This will keep the wood of your guitar fretboard hydrated and healthy. Oiling your fretboard too frequently can actually cause further problems, so don’t overdo it.

How Do I Tell If My Maple Fretboard Is Finished or Unfinished?

So now you know that you can oil an unfinished maple fretboard, but finished ones don’t need oil. But how do you know if your fretboard is finished or not?

A finished maple fretboard will have a thin gloss or coating over it, giving the wood a smooth and polished appearance and a bit of a sheen. Unfinished maple will feel natural – like an untreated piece of wood. This should generally help you differentiate between the two.


In general, maple fretboards do not need fretboard oil. On the rare case that your guitar has an unfinished maple fretboard, it can however benefit from a light application of fretboard oil 1-3 times a year.

If you’d like to learn more about how to clean your fretboard or apply fretboard oil, check out our in-depth article here.

Thanks for reading, and as always, happy picking!

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Corbin Buff

Corbin has played guitar for over a decade, and started writing about it on Acoustic World in an effort to help others. He lives and writes in western Montana.

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