The only wood on the exterior of an acoustic guitar which is not protected by a lacquer finish is the fingerboard. Fingerboards are made from sturdy, oily wood like ebony and rosewood. But they can collect residues and grime over time. They can also end up looking dingy and can dry out, becoming more porous or even crack. A variety of substances have been employed to combat such problems but only one product has been engineered specifically for use on ebony and rosewood guitar fingerboards: Petros Fingerboard Oil.
Cleaning a fingerboard should not need to be done very often. In most cases it is a matter of simply removing any build up acquired from sweat and continual use. Some people like to use fine grade steel wool to gently scrape the fingerboard. Other people use any number of products from lemon oil to more exotic substances. But none were designed for the task or made to work specifically with oily, porous wood.
Bruce Petros has developed a special formula for his fingerboard oil that is designed with ebony and rosewood fretboards in mind. Unlike other oils, Petros says his is made to penetrate beyond the surface and combine with the native oils to help harden the wood and prevent cracking. It is also claimed to help the wood be more resistant to corrosive salts. If a player also wishes to use steel wool to scrape away any buildup the oil should be applied after the scraping.
I have used Petros Fingerboard oil on four different fretboards; three of them being ebony and one of rosewood. I love how much better a guitar looks after using the oil, with the wood of the board darker and, well, healthy looking. It just makes a freshly polished guitar look so much more impressive without people really having a clue as to why. It quickly removes any buildup and dull, grayish stains that show up under the strings and leaves the wood with a rich, clean appearance. It is fair to say that one can be happy with their guitars without ever oiling the fingerboard. But if a player wants their guitars to look as good as they sound and prefers using the best guitar care products available Petros Fingerboard oil is the logical and rewarding choice.
When one oils a fingerboard they should use a very small amount on a cloth or cotton pad and rub it into the wood. A few drops should be able to cover a large portion of the fretboard, with the frets themselves being avoided. After the oil has been left to sink into the wood about ten minutes a clean cloth or paper towel should be used to wipe away an excess. This should be done at least once a year and Petros recommends doing it three or four times a year.
So, a single bottle of this premium oil should last years and cost pennies per use. I use mine in conjunction with Petros Miracle Finish Restorer and Petros Professional Instrument Polish. All three have proven to be excellent products.
Out of a possible 8 Notes on the T Spoon Scale of Guitaracity I give Petros Fingerboard Oil a nutritious 6 Notes.