Should You Oil a Rosewood Fretboard?

rosewood fretboard
Do You Need To Oil a Rosewood Fretboard?

Are you wondering whether you should oil the rosewood fretboard of your guitar? In order to get the most out of your guitar, it’s important to maintain the health of your instrument. One of the key components to doing so is maintaining and cleaning your fretboard.

If you’ve got a rosewood fretboard in particular, you may be wondering whether or not you need to oil your fretboard. There is a lot of misinformation and confusion surrounding this topic, so I wanted to write a blog post breaking it down as simply as possible.

So let’s get down to it… should you oil a rosewood fretboard?

The short answer is yes, you should oil a rosewood fretboard.

But it’s important to understand not only why you should do so, but how often to apply fretboard oil. Let’s jump right into the details.

Why Rosewood Fretboards Need Oil

Rosewood, unlike finished woods like maple, should be oiled every once in a while. This is because rosewood fretboard is unfinished, meaning the raw wood is left exposed to the elements. Over time, your sweat can dry out the natural moisture of the wood. If rosewood gets too dry, it can become dirty, brittle, and even crack, causing permanent damage to your fretboard.

This is where fretboard oil comes in. Since rosewood is an unfinished wood, it will soak up some of the oil you apply, allowing it to regain a healthy amount of moisture. This will allow your instrument to play well for years to come, and keep your fretboard clean and damage-free.

How Often Should You Oil a Rosewood Fretboard?

So rosewood fretboards need oil. But should you oil it every time you change your strings? No.

This is a big misconception people have about fretboard oil. Too much of a good thing can be bad. The same is true of oiling your fretboard. If you apply too much fretboard oil, too frequently, you can actually over-saturate the wood, causing it to warp.

To keep this from happening, it’s best you only treat your rosewood fretboard with oil 1-3 times every year, if that. In general, you only really need to apply fretboard oil if the fretboard seems unusually dry. It can also be helpful in removing any gunk that builds up on the wood.

But the key takeaway here is you shouldn’t be using fretboard oil every time you do a light cleaning or string change. Instead, reserve it for deep cleanings once a year or so.

My favorite fretboard oil is Dunlop’s Fretboard 65. It has an amazing lemon scent to it. You can get it on Amazon.

If you’re looking for more tips on how to clean your fretboard, you can check out my ultimate guide to fretboard cleaning 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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