Now, we do know that folks use fretboard lemon oil (not to be confused with “real” lemon oil) on guitars. However, one can’t help but ask whether it’s possible to use linseed oil on a guitar. In today’s article, our main mission, here at Music Gear Heads, will be to figure it out!

What is linseed oil? Will it do some damage to your favorite instrument once the two come into contact? Don’t worry, as we’ll tackle those issues, too. Anyway, if you’re looking out to see whether one can use linseed oil on a guitar or if such an action’s totally prohibited (like using isopropyl to clean a guitar), you’ll enjoy what we’ve prepared in the text below. As always, stay tuned, folks!

Yes, you’re able to use linseed oil on a guitar. Keep in mind that you should only use a boiled linseed oil product. Steer clear of raw linseed oil. However, your best bet is to use guitar fretboard oil that’s cleverly designed for the purpose. Lastly, know that you should oil your fretboard every six months or so. 

Not giving this one a proper read will put your instrument’s well-being into jeopardy. Therefore, don’t read just the preview!

Table of Contents

What is linseed oil?

So, here’s the thing: before we share any of the info we’ve gathered on our main subject (and, trust us, we’ve got a lot of interesting things to show you), it might be best to consider one of the main terms we’ll use today. That being said, it’s completely natural of us to ask: what is linseed oil? How do we get linseed oil?

Alright, so linseed oil is also called flaxseed oil or flax oil. The latter stands for its edible form. The color of the oil in question ranges from colorless to yellowish nuances. It’s made from ripened seeds of the flax plant that also goes by the name of Linum usitatissimum. Here’s how it’s done: the seeds are either cold-pressed or heated, and the whole process is sometimes followed by solvent extraction.

Let’s consider its applications.

What is the linseed oil used for?

There are various applications of linseed oil. We’re able to differentiate between products that come as a result from:

  • Heating linseeds. Not to be ingested. Usually found in the fields of dyeing & cosmetics.
  • Cold-pressing linseeds. Edible. These products have countless health benefits and can be consumed directly, as a food supplement. However, keep in mind that it has certain side effects because of which you’ll want to consult with a doctor before introducing the supplement to your diet.

It’s not hard to guess which linseed products are we going to talk about in the article below. Anyway, before we tackle the main subject, let’s see why would anyone want to use linseed on wood (speaking of which, here’s what kind of wood are Squier Strats made from). Also, we’ll consider the cons of using linseed oil, too.

Pros & cons of using linseed oil on wood

Before we begin, keep in mind that a 1500-word article isn’t enough to cover all the pros of using linseed oil on wood. Therefore, we’ll only focus on the most important benefits this product has to offer. So, what are they?

  • You’re able to use linseed oil both on wood and metal. 
  • Also, linseed oil will enhance the color and grain of the wood. For instance, it will make timber look more textured. 
  • For the most part, it’s a non-toxic finish. In other words, it’s eco-friendly.
  • Linseed oil will prevent the wood from cracking or drying out. Not to mention it will cover up some scratches. 
  • Since it will permeate deep into the wood, linseed oil will create a solid protective barrier to the elements. 
  • Lastly, you’re able to use it both indoors & outdoors. 

It would be rather unfair not to mention the cons. However, there aren’t so many of them. Anyway, here they are:

  • Linseed oil demand recoating every once in a while in order to keep your wood protected. 
  • Unfortunately, linseed oil’s not waterproof. It’s water-resistant. 
  • You’ll spend more time waiting for linseed oil to dry than you’d spend waiting for other finishes. 
  • It’s not as tough as shellac. Also, it can give your wood a yellowish tone over time. 

Okay, so now that we’ve pinpointed certain benefits and not-so-great side effects of using linseed oil, let’s cross into our main subject’s territory. In other words, let’s see if you’re able to use linseed oil on your trusty guitar!

Three spoons full of linseeds from which we get linseed oil.

Can you use linseed oil on guitar?

So, here we are. Let’s begin by saying that, in order to keep your instrument as close to mint condition as possible, you need to do much more than the occasional wipe-down of the strings. That’s right, you’ll need to keep the oiled wooden surfaces of your guitar all happy & maintained with just a little upkeep every half a year or so. You’ll do this in the correct manner by applying a penetrating oil that will keep the wood healthy. In other words, it will condition the lumber, revitalize the wood grain, and nourish timber.

Once you consider all the things we’ve mentioned above, it’s only natural to ask: if everything’s just like you said, can I use linseed oil on my guitar? Here’s what most guitarists say: yes, you’re able to use linseed oil on your guitar’s fretboard. Some folks have been using it for decades and haven’t encountered any issues so far. However, they note that you’ll need to wipe your fretboard dry as much as possible before you store your trusty instrument away. It’s a process that will require you to invest some time, so just be patient until you completely deal with the excess oil.

Also, here’s another thing you should pay attention to: the so-called “raw” linseed oil might never dry, depending, of course, on the type of wood it’s applied to so you might want to use “boiled” linseed oil instead. However, our suggestion is that you use a product that’s designed to be used on a guitar such as StewMac’s Fretboard Oil. It consists of linseed oil, tun oil, and some modified dryers.

How often should you oil your fretboard?

Here’s the thing: an oversaturated fretboard might be in some cases as bad & harmful to your instrument’s well-being as a dry one. Therefore, it’s good you remember that being moderate is the key to success here. Anyway, most commercial guitar companies would recommend you to oil your fretboard once every half a year. Oiling your fretboard each time you change strings is a definite NO-NO.

How to oil a guitar fretboard?

If you’re wondering what should be your motto during the process of oiling a guitar fretboard, you’ll want to opt for the famous minimalist cred: less is more. Let’s get a little bit more specific than that!

So, you’ll need to use just enough oil to coat your instrument’s fretboard, but you should completely avoid the scenario in which little pools form. Fortunately, certain brands of fretboard oils offer sponge applicators together with the product. If you stumble upon such a fretboard oil product, you’re in luck. Otherwise, you can use the dampened corner of a rag instead. 

As we’ve said, you’ll want to cover the fretboard, but not overdo it. Once you’re done with that, use a dry rag to rub and push the oil into the wood. Next up, you’ll need to give the coating a couple of seconds before you tap the fretboard with the whole length of your index finger as that will help you bring the excess moisture of the wood. Just so you’re able to clean it off with your rag without much hassle & effort.

Oh, and if you’re thinking about using baby oil to hydrate your fretboard, follow that link.

Can you use olive oil on a guitar fretboard?

Here’s a short answer: NOPE. Trust us, you don’t want to use olive oil on any part of your guitar. That’s because olive oil will spoil pretty quickly and give off a bad smell. Also, it will attract dirt, grime, and rust to your strings & the fretboard once applied. Just don’t do it.

What about WD-40? Once again, our answer is NO. Even though it’s one of the world’s most famous lubricants, WD-40 isn’t good for wood. Some guitarists like to clean their strings with it, but you should refrain from following in their footsteps. As WD-40 is only meant to be used with metal, the wooden parts of your guitar will suffer irreversible damage.

Also, since WD stands for Water Displacer, it will dry out your guitar wood and eventually lead to the appearance of cracks. If you’re looking for more information on using WD-40 on your favorite instrument and why you should steer clear of doing such a thing, consider reading this article we’ve published.

Final thoughts on using linseed oil on a guitar

Okay, folks, that’s about all there’s to say about using linseed oil on a guitar. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed reading today’s piece. Also, we hope you’ll refrain from using olive oil or WD-40 on your favorite instrument. Speaking of the latter, here’s where you’ll find additional tips and info.