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How to Clean a Rosewood Fretboard (Simple & Easy!)

Rosewood is present in high-end acoustic guitars like Martin D-28. These fretboards are famous for their natural feel and vintage look. 

As rosewood is rich in natural oils, it does not need to be polished. However, cleaning a rosewood fretboard also has its secrets. 

In this article, I’ll be showing you how to clean a rosewood fretboard. Furthermore, I’ll also be providing you with the answers to a number of commonly asked questions in regards to this topic. 

Let’s get to it!

How to Clean a Rosewood Fretboard

Here are the steps you can use to clean the rosewood fretboard of your guitar:

  1. Remove the strings of your guitar – To spare some extra work, try to clean the fretboard every time you change the strings.
  2. Use wire wool – Go to the nearest hardware store and ask for some 4.0 wire wool. It’s very fine and widely used in furniture polishing. If you can’t find it there, go to a specialized store or order it online.
  3. Get some oil soap for furniture cleaning – Murphy is the household name here. It’s got the magical power to lift the dirt off rosewood fretboards. 
  4. Clean your rosewood fretboard – Take a small amount of wire wool and apply a drop of oil soap on it. Then, go up and down the fretboard, not in circles. 
Related:  9 Best Acoustic Guitars for Country Music in 2023

Things to keep in mind

The 9th through the 11th fret are particularly prone to building up grime and dirt, so pay extra attention to this area of the fretboard. 

You may need to go for a second run. Once you are done, take a soft lint-free cloth and wipe the fretboard clean.

Once you’re done with the wire wool and the oil soap, give the fretboard five minutes to dry up. You may need to apply a little bit of lemon oil on the fretboard to restore its natural moisture.

If your guitar has a maple fretboard then please check out our other article here.

What You Should Use to Clean a Rosewood Fretboard

If it’s polished, you should not use any wire wool, just a pump spray, and some lint-free cloth. MusicNomad’s fretboard cleaners are okay, but you can use any similar product. 

If the fretboard has lost most of its polish, or if there are any cracks in it, you should use oil soap to clean it. You don’t want pump spray to get into these tiny cracks.

rosewood fretboard


Here is a nice video demonstrating how you can easily clean a rosewood fretboard if you need something visual to follow along to:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Can I Use Water to Clean a Rosewood Fretboard?

Using water to clean wood is a bad idea. Your guitar’s rosewood fretboard makes no exception to this rule.

Do I Need to Oil Rosewood Fretboard?

You can apply some lemon oil to the fretboard once you’ve finished cleaning it. If you apply too much, the fretboard and the strings will get sticky and slippery.

Related:  Martin 000-28EC Review (2023 Updated)

How Often Should I Oil My Rosewood Fretboard?

Well, you can work a drop or two of lemon oil into your guitar’s rosewood fretboard after every other cleaning. Rosewood’s rich in natural oils, so rarely need oiling. 

What Is the Best Oil for a Rosewood Fretboard?

Experts say lemon oil is the best choice.

Can I Use Olive Oil on a Rosewood Fretboard?

You should not use olive oil on a rosewood fretboard. Olive oil goes into your salad. If you can’t find lemon oil, you can use a solution of two parts olive oil and one part lemon juice.

Final Words

To sum it up, you should clean your guitar’s rosewood fingerboard regularly to prevent dirt and grime from building up. 

Filthy fretboards take more soap and scrubbing to clean, so lemon oil polishing is mandatory.

Just make sure you don’t use water to clean your guitar’s fretboard, or olive oil to polish it.