What Oil to Use for Your Guitar Body? (Explained!)

When it comes to guitar finishing, the process has a lot of steps i.e. oiling, staining, painting, etc. A finished guitar passes through different steps during the process.

This article is specifically related to guitar oil. So, whether it is the process of finishing your guitar or cleaning and maintaining your guitar. You will need a specific type of oil. Such as Tung oil, Danish oil, Gunstock oil, etc. We will briefly discuss what oil to use for your guitar body

Most people use household oil such as coconut, olive, vinegar, or lemon oil to maintain or clean their guitars. However, these types of oil are not beneficial for the guitar body.

It will cause damage to your guitar, and you will not be able to recover it at any cost. After reading this article you will be able to know what oil to use for your guitar body.

We are discussing both aspects i.e. oil to use for unfinished guitars and oil to use for maintenance. So, let’s start with unfinished guitars first.

Oil to Use When Your Guitar Body is Unfinished

If you have an unfinished guitar. It includes different steps to make it complete. Normally, an unfinished guitar should be refinished and oiled before being lacquered.

Before you use any oil on your guitar make sure to level out any marks or dents with wood filler and then sand and clean your guitar first before applying oil. Here are some oils you can use on your unfinished guitar:

Tung Oil

One of the commonly used oils for the unfinished guitar body is using Tung oil. Sometimes it is called china wood oil.

It is obtained from the nut of the Tung tree. When the oil is applied to the guitar body, it leaves a transparent coat on the body. Tung oil is mostly used for protecting the wood surface from humidity and weather effects.

Tung oil consists of 82% Alpha-eleostearic acid, 8.5 % Linoleic acid, 5.5 % Palmitic acid, and 4% Oleic acid. Due to the low viscosity properties, the oil penetrates through the small pores of the wood and protects the wood from all types of external factors like humidity or UV light.

For an unfinished guitar, you will need to apply two to three coats of Tung oil. Each coat needs to be applied with a gap of two to three days.

KOA Oil (Poly Stain)

Koa oil is commonly used in Hawaii for making ornaments, furniture, and other applications.

It can also be used on your unfinished guitar if you want a very dark look, kind of like koa wood.

Catalyzed Lacquer

Lacquers are one of the famous and mostly used wood finishing products. If you are working with Unfinish Guitars. Lacquer is the best option to go with.

One of the best things that lacquers have is that they are inexpensive, durable, and dry quickly. Different types of lacquers are Nitrocellulose lacquer, acrylic lacquer, and catalyzed lacquer.

Catalyzed lacquer offers better water, chemical, and abrasion resistance. If we talk about the combination it is made of urea-formaldehyde or urea melamine and an alkyd. Catalyzed comes in two types.  

  • pre-catalyzed lacquer: In this type, components are premixed by the manufacturer.
  • Post-catalyzed lacquer: In this type of catalyzed lacquers mixing is done via a proper ratio. 

Of course, you can also use lacquer after you’ve oiled your body first as an extra finish.

Oil to Use For Maintenance

Besides using oil for unfinished guitars, different types of oils are also used for the maintenance of guitars.

Guitar maintenance includes cleaning of fingerboard/fretboard.

It is important to wipe out your guitar neck after every session and to do maintenance on the guitar after at least after six months.

Otherwise, you have the chance that the wood dries out and there is a risk of your fretboard cracking.

Clean Your Fretboard First

If you have a filthy fretboard and there is sweat or dirt on the wood, It is time to clean it up. To keep your fretboard clean, it is necessary to clean your guitar with a soft cotton towel after every session.

Every type of fretboard wood has its own cleaning routine, that you can find here.

Find a feasible place like a kitchen table or anything else, put the guitar on it, and start cleaning.

Gorgomyte (Also cleans fretboard)

To clean your fretboard and oil it at the same time you can use Gorgomyte. It is one of the best cleaning products for guitar fretboards.

It was first time introduced by luthier Jimmy Johns. While using Gorgmyte, there is no need to mask off your bord during the cleaning process. The product can be used for different types of fingerboards.

Using Gorgomyte for cleaning your fretboard will give your guitar a shiny look. So stop using steel wool, start using Gorgomyte.

Gunstock Oil

Gunstock oil is also referred to as true oil. It is known for the properties it has like no color change or staining, it also dries fast.

Due to long-lasting durability, grain enhancing properties, and ease of application it is commonly used for unfinished guitars as well as guitar maintenance.

If we talk about the ingredients, Gunstock oil or true oil is made of boiled linseed oil, mineral spirits, and oil varnish. Applying multiple coats on the guitar neck makes it beautiful and charming. For the second coat, It is recommended to wait for twenty-four hours after applying the first coat.


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