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How to Clean a Maple Fretboard (In Only a Few Steps!)

Maple wood is mainly used to make electric guitar fretboards. Washburn’s WCSD30SK is one of the few acoustic guitars out there fitted with a maple fingerboard.

The more you play your guitar, the more dirt and grime will accumulate on the frets. 

In this article, I will guide you through the maple fretboard cleaning process. 

Along the way, I will tell you what agents you should use and will also answer some interesting questions on the topic  

How to Clean a Maple Fretboard

There are two different methods of maple fretboard cleaning depending on whether the fretboard is finished or raw.

Glossy Maple Fretboards

The finish makes them very easy to clean. You can use a guitar cleaning kit by Dunlop or Gibson, or a similar product. 

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Remove the strings of your guitar.
  2. Make sure the fretboard hasn’t got any cracks in it. If there are cracks, the finish may penetrate the finish and go into the wood itself.
  3. Take the spray and get a couple of sprays on the cloth you are going to use, but not on the fretboard. Spray the fretboard directly only if it’s really filthy. 
  4. Work the cloth up and down the guitar’s neck, not sideways. You may need to flip the cloth over, apply some more spray and go for a second pass.
  5. Once you’re done, throw the towel into the bin.
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Raw Maple Fretboards

  1. Take an appropriate fretboard cleaner and apply a few dabs directly on the fretboard between the frets. 
  2. Take a lint-free cloth and move it around each space. You won’t notice any shine as the cleaning agent goes right into the maple fretboard.
  3. Give the oil a few minutes to get the dirt out of the wood (between two and ten depending on how dirty it is), and then pass over with a dry microfiber cloth to remove the excess oil.
  4. Once you’ve finished cleaning your guitar’s fretboard, you should again throw away both cloths.

What You Should Use to Clean a Maple Fretboard

For glossy fretboards, use a special towel like Scott’s Shop Towel that won’t tear and leave any debris on the fretboard. Never clean a glossy maple fretboard with agents containing silicone.

Use non-acidic oil-based fretboard cleaners on unfinished maple fretboards. These are a combination of different wood and seed oils that the tree would recognize as its own and let them dry evenly.

Maple Fretboard

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Should You Oil a Maple Fretboard?

Only unfinished maple fretboards need oil-based cleaners. There’s no point oiling a glossy fretboard.

Can you use water on a maple fretboard?

You can occasionally pass a damp towel on your guitar’s finished maple fretboard to remove dust or dirt.

How do you get stains out of a maple fretboard?

If you have a guitar with a raw maple fingerboard, you’ll probably start seeing some dark stains on it over time. In the beginning, you will be able to remove them with 0000 steel wool or 800-1000 sandpaper. 

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Murphy Oil Soap may also remedy the situation for a while, but you’ll have to get used to them over time.


Let’s sum up some key moments. Never use water or dishwashing liquid to clean a maple fretboard. Use a new lint-free cloth every time. 

Spray the cloth when cleaning a polished fretboard, or apply oil between the frets of an unfinished one. 

When cleaning a polished maple fretboard, you pass the cloth up and down the neck. When cleaning a raw fretboard, you should go about in circles between the frets.