Can I Use Olive Oil On My Guitar and Fretboard? (Risks Explained)

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Written By Musical Scoop

Chief Music Officer

It is not advisable to use olive oil on a guitar. Olive oil and other household oils that are produced for human consumption are designed to decompose. As a result, the oil could go rancid on your guitar and fretboard.

Throughout this article, I will explain in more detail why olive oil is not a good oil to put on your guitar and fretboard, and explore some other alternatives.

Why Is Olive Oil Bad For your Guitar and Fretboard? 

While some oils include preservatives and are designed to harden over time, olive oil does not harden and will decompose over time.

As a result, if you put olive oil on your guitar, or guitar fretboard, it could go rancid.

A good rule of thumb, when thinking about what oil might be suitable for your guitar, is not to use any oil that is used for human consumption.

The oil that is used for human consumption is produced to decompose and this is not the type of oil you wish to have on your guitar.

Can You Use Olive Oil On A Guitar Fretboard?

Olive oil is not recommended for your guitar fretboard. Olive oil will most likely go rancid over time, and lead your fretboard to become grimy, slippery, and even sticky. 

Many fretboards can be cleaned adequately with a simple microfiber cloth, but if you wish to oil them, you can do so very occasionally, with proper mineral oil, or lemon-scented fretboard oil.

What Will Happen If I Put Olive Oil On My Guitar And Fretboard?

Olive oil will make your guitar and fretboard look nice and shiny and healthy in the short term, but there might be some undesirable long-term impacts of using olive oil on your guitar.

The first, and most obvious potential side effect, is the olive oil going rancid.

Olive oil that goes rancid will often have a different taste and different smell. the extent of the bad smell is not severe, so it may not be intense, and some may not even notice it, but it is definitely a possibility. 

Another side effect is that it could go grimy, and a bit slippery, as olive oil is a non-drying oil. This is especially a risk if you put a large quantity of olive oil on your fretboard or guitar, and do not dry and wipe it off properly. 

The olive oil may also interfere with the other oils or finishes that you have on your guitar. It could react chemically with those other substances to ruin the finish of your guitar.

If you apply a small amount, of high-quality olive oil to your guitar or guitar fretboard and then wipe it off properly, there is a small to no risk of actually causing long-term harm to your guitar. The potential harm comes from the ongoing application of a significant quantity of olive oil.

Do I Even Need Oil On My Guitar and Fretboard?

In reality, most guitars and fretboards do not actually require oiling. You can adequately clean your guitar, and care for your guitar with a simple microfiber cloth, occasionally making it damp, without ever oiling it.

How Can I get Olive Oil off of my guitar If I have already put it on?

If you have applied olive oil to your guitar or fretboard then to an extent there is no way to get all of it off.

However, if you use a microfiber cloth to rub as much of it off as possible and then use a citrus-based guitar oil over the affected area, you have a good chance of breaking down the remaining olive oil, to the maximum extent, and getting most of it off.

What Should Use To Oil My Guitar And Fretboard?

Even though your fretboard doesn’t really need much oil, there are many products on the market, at a very affordable price, that you can safely use on your guitar and guitar fretboard.

Basic mineral oil is a great oil for guitars and fretboards. There are also many lemon oils, and in some cases, these lemon oils are actually just lemon-scented mineral oil.

For as little as $5, or not much more than that, have a look at your local music store, or an online music retailer, and you will be able to find a certain product that you can use on your guitars your guitar fretboard with peace of mind.

But keep in mind, that in many cases, oil in your guitar is just not required.