Can You Use Guitar Polish on the Fretboard?


Using guitar polish to clean your guitar is among the best ways to enhance its beauty. Besides, you’ll enjoy an excellent and healthy play whenever the guitar is clean. Although guitar polish is known to make your guitar look brand new, can you use guitar polish on the fretboard?

You can use guitar polish on the fretboard, but you should not apply too much of the polish. Too much polish may get into the frets, interfering with the string’s performance. When you apply just enough, it will aid in maintaining the fretboard clean. You should remove the strings, rub out any glue, and polish the body.

Worry less if you own a guitar and stack on how to do the polishing on the fretboard. This article is for you read through and learn everything about guitar polish and how you should do it on the fretboard.

How Should You Clean the Guitar’s Fretboard With Polish?

Before you do the polishing, first gather all the tools necessary for polishing. When all is in place, prepare the place or table you’ll use and continue with the steps below.

cleaning guitar fretboard

Wash Your Hands

Although it may seem self-evident, it’s still a crucial thing you must remember. Our hands always have oil, grease, dust, and dirt. You do not want this dirt to interfere with the guitar during polishing. So when you’re clean and free from dirt, chances of making the fretboard dirty are minimal.

Remove Strings From the Body and Also on the Fretboard

Removing the strings makes the fretboard clearer and ready for polishing. Besides, you do not want to prevent your strings from getting polished. After all the strings are out, rehydrate the fretboard with Lemon oil. Plus, if it’s a maple fretboard, use a damp cloth to clean it.

However, properly cleaning the fretboard before polishing is the key thing to remember. You can use bespoke cleaning solutions; they are best to work on the fretboard. They include GHS Fingerboard Care Kit. It has multiple aiding products for cleaning (a fingerboard conditioner and fret buffer).

You should use the grey side of your buffer to remove grime and dirt off the fretboard and use the other side for polishing out the dirt and grime.

Use the conditioner to remove the fretboard’s deep grime and dirt. Use a clean piece of cloth to apply the solution.

Polish the Body

When all the grime and dirt are out of the fretboard, apply the polish on a soft cloth and apply it to your guitar’s fretboard. Because of the matte finish, you should use a dry clean cloth on Nitro/Mat/Satin-finished guitars.

Re-String the Guitar

After polishing the fretboard, use one string at a time to re-string the guitar. Doing this could allow perfect tuning of your guitar. Once the strings are re-attached and tuned, check if there is rattling or buzzing. If you find any issue, fix it as soon as possible.

What Can You Use Instead of the Guitar Polish?

You always dream of maintaining your guitar in prime condition. Where you have no guitar polish, use lemon oil instead. The performance of lemon oils on the fretboard appearance is not like using guitar polish, so apply once per month.

If you need a cheaper product than lemon oil and guitar polish, use baking powder. It is very excellent for polishing your fretboard. If you want to use it, mix it in water and stir until you get a fine paste. Then spread the paste on the fretboard and let it sit for some minutes before wiping it off.

However, the guitar polish is not only applicable to the fretboard. You can also use it on the body of your guitar. When you use it on the body, wipe it down using a piece of rag soaked in soapy water. Rinse well to remove any residue. Rinsing well helps to remove any oil and grime. Oil is acidic, and if not removed, it could damage the strings on the fretboard. Also note, avoid using lemon oil on any guitar which has nitrocellulose finishes.

Which Guitar Polish Product Should You Use on Your Fretboard?

Using cheap polish specifically made for your guitar will be better. Using polish unmeant for guitar could end up damaging the finish. However, below are the polishing products you can use for polishing your guitar fretboard.

Martin Instrument Polish and Cleaner

Martin Instrument Polish and Cleaner provide a gorgeous shine on your guitar. However, you should use it on a gloss finish, not a satin-finish fretboard. Before applying the polishing solution, use the cleaner to remove dirt under the fretboard. Plus, ensure you remove all strings before polishing. Maintaining your guitar clean and polished after a long use time should not be the thing to do; ensure to clean it after every play if you need the fretboard to be free from oil and grime.

Product Specs

  • Model: 18A0073 Polish and Cleaner
  • Brand: Martin
  • Finish: Standard

However, this product works best on acoustic guitars, although most players use it to clean electric fretboards.

Ernie Ball Guitar Polish

Ernie Ball Guitar Polish is best for the fretboard because it is oil-free and safe in most guitars’ finishes. Besides, you can easily wipe it off after application, and it won’t leave behind streaks and haze.

Although it is the best product, most players complain that it leaves stretch marks on the fretboard after using it. If you want to benefit from this polish, make a gentle cleaning on the fretboard’s surface while using a microfiber piece of cloth to prevent scratches.

Product Specs

  • Model: P04222
  • Brand: Ernie Ball
  • Finish: Standard


You can use polish on the fretboard of your guitar. However, ensure not to apply too much of the polish as it can end up interfering with the performance of the strings. However, before the polishing process, identify a place or table to use, remove all strings and do the polishing. When done, re-string the guitar taste for any issues; also, you cannot apply all of the polishing products you’ll find in the stores. Some end up damaging the fretboard finish. Seek assistance from professional players to get the best polish for your guitar.

Sourav Biswas

Music is my life and I love to play guitar so much. It's been a part of me for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a musical family, and my parents were always supportive of my passion for music. I am also a freelance writer who has been writing for over 10 years. I have written for both online and offline publications, including Amazon and Medium.

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