Is your favorite guitar looking a little dingy these days? An awesome finish needs to be kept polished for proper protection and to look its best! In this guitar polish review, I’ll tell you which 8 products I like best and what makes them a great choice to use on your guitar.
All polishes are not created equal. More expensive isn’t necessarily better, and using the wrong polish can actually harm your guitar’s finish!.
You need to familiarize yourself with the “dos and don’ts” of keeping your instrument looking great.
Keep on reading to discover more!
Why Should You Polish Your guitar?
If you want to get right to the guitar polish product reviews, scroll down to the next section.
The main reasons to polish your guitar are to keep the finish looking good and to protect it from oil, sweat, and dirt on your hands, pollutants in the air, and the sun’s ultraviolet rays (to a certain extent); all of which can degrade the quality of the finish over time.
If you own a guitar with an expensive finish, then you will definitely want to polish the body and neck (if appropriate) routinely. However, many players with old guitars or instruments that have been “reliced” to look old purposely prefer not to polish them to preserve their appearance’s character.
Always clean your guitar before polishing it, and use a cleaner specially designed for the guitar’s finish.
If you’re in a hurry, check out this summary table!
| Fender Custom|
|2 oz||$8.00||Very High-End Shine||Pricey for its|
|Dunlop Formula 65||4 oz||$5.00||Cleans & Polishes||May not fully|
|PRS Guitar Polish||4 oz||$5.50||Removes Snudges|
As It Polishes
|Not recommend for nitrocellulose|
“All In One”
waxes, and protects
|Not recommend for|
matte finishes, pricey
|Gibson Pump Polish||4 oz||$7.00||Cleans as|
|A little pricey|
|D’Addario Restore||4 oz||$6.00||Removes heavy|
|Use with caution on|
delicate finishes and
|Ernie Ball||4 oz||$10.00||Polishes quickly|
|May not polish to|
a high-gloss finish,
|Martin Polish||6 oz||$12.00||Great polish for acoustic guitars|
with gloss finish
|May not remove grime off some surfaces|
My Picks For Guitar Polishing
Here are the polishes I would recommend for your guitar, which include some of my favorites that I have used for many years and still use today.
They represent a wide price range, so you should be able to find something that fits your budget.
Fender Custom Shop Guitar Polish
Fender Custom Shop Guitar Polish is my favorite product these days. It does a fantastic job of polishing without streaks and feels great to the touch.
I use it on my guitars with “high-end” or very detailed finishes because it never makes them look dull or smudgy. It’s “Master Builder Approved!”
This Fender guitar polish is pricey but worth it!
Size: 2 Oz
Retail Price: $8.00
Fender Guitar Super Care Kit Bundle
Fender also offers an excellent “Kit Bundle” to pamper and take excellent total care of your guitar. This four-step system gives you one bottle of each Fender Custom Shop Guitar Care product and they all contain a high-grade carnauba formulation that does not have silicones, resins, polymers, bonding agents, or alcohol.
The kit includes:
- Custom Shop Guitar Cleaner – to remove dirt and grime
- Custom Shop Guitar Polish – to help restore the finish to its orginal luster
- Custom Shop Fretboard Remedy – to clean, hydrate, and protect the fretboard
- Custom Shop Quick Clean – to use after each time you wipe down your guitar
- Fender Dual-Sided Super-Soft Microfiber Cloth – has 1 side for cleaning and 1 side for polishing
- Fender Factory Microfiber Cloth – shines without scratches or smudges
Retail Price: $35.00
Dunlop Formula 65 Guitar Polish And Cleaner
I’ve used Dunlop guitar polish as an “all-purpose” treatment for my electric guitars for years now, and it always does a great job.
It is marketed as a product that “cleans and polishes.” So, if you want a real-time-saver, you should give this polish a try.
If your guitar is really dirty, I recommend cleaning it well with a dedicated guitar cleaning product before using this polish.
You can’t really go wrong with the price and the “two-for-one” cleaner-polish action. I love everything made by Dunlop!
Size: 4 Oz
Retail Price: $5.00
Jim Dunlop System 65 Guitar Maintenance Kit (6500)
Dunlop also makes a “guitar maintenance Kit” that includes everything your need to keep your guitar in tip-top condition.
- 654 Formula No. 65 Polish and Cleaner
- 6574 Bodygloss Cream of Carnauba
- 6582 Ultraglide 65 String Conditioner
- 6524 Fingerboard Cleaner and Prep
- 6532 Deep Conditioner Oil
- 1 Micro Fine Fret Polishing Cloth
- 2 100% Cotton Cloths
Retail Price: $23.00
PRS Guitar Polish
I use PRS guitar polish on all my Paul Reed Smith guitars because it’s a great high-luster polish, and it’s formulated and recommended by the man himself!
This polish removes smudges as it shines and is safe for all urethane finishes.
Using this polish on guitars with nitrocellulose lacquer finishes is not recommended because it might create haziness.
PRS polish is a great buy for the price and quality!
Size: 4 oz
Retail price: $5.50
PRS Guitar Care Bundle
PRS also makes a guitar care bundle for more comprehensive maintenance.
The materials in this kit are “specially formulated to be of the highest quality, just like PRS guitars.
The bundle includes:
- PRS Guitar Cleaner – that removes dirt and fingerprints
- PRS Guitar Polish – restores the finish to a brilliant shine
- PRS Fretboard Conditioner – restores the fretboard and improves playability
- 3 Microfiber cloths that have the PRS 12th fret eagle outline
Retail Price: $25.00
MusicNomad MN103 Guitar ONE, All-in-1 Cleaner, Polish, and Wax
The MusicNomad MN103 is marketed as a “complete solution in a bottle” for gloss finish guitars. It cleans, polishes, waxes, and protects, all in a single application.
It’s safe on all lacquer finishes, including nitrocellulose, but it’s not recommended for use with matte finishes.
It comes in two sizes, and you get a price break on the bigger bottle.
Size: 4oz and 12 oz
Retail Price: $10.00 and $24.00
MusicNomad Total Guitar Spa
For the ultimate in guitar care, consider the 15-piece “guitar spa.” This package has everything you need to give your guitar the comprehensive maintenance it deserves. The 15 individual products are designed for various types of detailing, cleaning, polishing, and conditioning.
If you want a guitar cleaning kit and a polish for virtually every type of guitar then this is what you have been looking for!
- Guitar Detailer – to use for Matte/Satin Finishes
- Guitar ONE – for Gloss Finishes
- Pro Strength Polish – for scratches and hazy surfaces
- String Fuel – Cleans and conditions your strings to last longer and play faster
- A 5-Piece FRINE Fret Polishing Kit
- 3-Piece F-ONE Fretboard Care Kit
- 3 premium, edgeless suede microfiber detailing cloths
Here is a video by MusicNomad where Rand Rognlien shows you how to care for guitars with Nitrocellulose (Nitro) Finishes. Awesome info, check it out!
Gibson Pump Polish
I can remember using Gibson polish all the way back to the 1970s! Just a little bit worked great, the bottle seemed to last forever, and my guitar looked really shinny.
It does a decent job of removing oil and dirt as it polishes without future build-up.
Gibson guitar pump polish does not contain any chemical propellants, so it is eco-friendly.
I would not hesitate to recommend this product to anyone.
Size: 4 oz
Retail Price: $7.00
D’Addario Restore Guitar Polish
D’Addario Restore Detailer is a deep-cleaning polish, which is useful for cutting through heavy dirt and grime. It can polish out swirl marks and eliminate minor scratches while giving a brilliant and high-luster shine.
I tried it on a low-end guitar with a polyurethane finish that was heavily scratched with areas of caked-on grime. It did a great job cleaning the finish and lightened the scratch marks.
I would be a little hesitant to use this on a more expensive guitar, even though it claims to be “safe on all common guitar finishes.”
Size: 4 oz
Retail Price: $6.00
Ernie Ball Guitar Polish
Ernie Ball Instrument Polish is another product that I have used for many years. Their guitar strings are practically legendary! If you’ve been playing a while, then you’ve most likely had a set of “Ernies” on your guitar at some time or another.
The manufacturer claims their polish is oil-free and “safe on most tonewoods and finishes.” In addition, it can be wiped off immediately after applying, and it doesn’t leave streaks or haze.
Some players have claimed that the polish leaves “scratch marks” in their guitar finish, but I have never experienced this and I have used it on many guitars. Sometimes polishing can make tiny scratches that were already there but difficult to see on a dirty surface appear more prominent.
It’s also important to gently clean a dirty guitar surface with a soft microfiber cloth before you polish; otherwise, particulate matter can scratch your guitar.
This polish comes with a 12×12-inch microfiber cloth.
Retail Price: $10.00
Martin Instrument Polish & Cleaner
I have used Martin guitar polish a serval acoustic guitars, and it gives them a gorgeous shine. However, it should only be used for acoustics with a gloss finish, not with satin-finish guitars.
Martin claims their product cleans as it shines, but I have always had better results when cleaning an acoustic guitar before I apply their polish.
It’s important to wipe down your guitar after each time you play it. If you follow this tip, then the Martin polish will work very well for you.
Many players I know have used this product on their electric instruments with no issues, but it is formulated specifically for acoustic guitars.
This is the polish that Martin uses on their guitars before they leave the factory. Need I say more?
Size: 6 oz
Retail Price” $12.00
Here is a video from Dave Doll at Martin Guitar. He shows you how to clean and polish your acoustic guitar, as well as how to care for the fretboard (I would definitely go easy on the 3-in-1-oil).
Guitar Polish Alternatives To Avoid
You are better off using a cheap polish that’s specifically made for your guitar’s surface than any of these or other alternatives that are not formulated specifically for guitars and can harm the finish.
You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money to get a good polishing product. Many of the polishes in this article are reasonably priced and will do an excellent job on your instrument.
I have to admit that I used my mother’s “Lemon Pledge” furniture polish on my Sears Silvertone electric when I was a teenager. But, unfortunately, I could not buy a polish specifically made for guitars at my local music store, and there was no Internet.
By the time I bought my first Strat in the early 1970s, Guitar Player magazine was advertising guitar polish, and I purchased some by mail order.
Nothing horrible happened with the Pledge, but I very rarely cleaned and polished it at the time.
Furniture polish contains silicone oils that can leave a visible film and react with the guitar’s finish to stain it and change its appearance permanently.
I knew a country music guitar player that swore by his “Turtle Wax,” and I could not convince him to use anything else. I even gave him a bottle of guitar polish but he was a stubborn guy. Luckily it was a once every couple of years event, and he was putting it on a fairly cheap Japanese knockoff electric.
Never use car polish on any musical instrument! It can be loaded with chemicals that will harm the finish. Fortunately, most first-timers realize it is too thick and leaves a greasy-looking appearance.
Armor All is a protectant, not a polish. It is made for soft surfaces like automobile dashboards and tires.
The active ingredients in the classic formulation are silicone, diethylene glycol (an “anti-freeze-like” derivative!), and glycerin, as well as various other potentially harmful chemicals.
Armor All’s bright protective finish can quickly wear off where your hands and arms run against your guitar, making the surface appear “splotchy.”
Homemade Cleaners And Polishes
I’ve seen people use everything you can imagine to clean and “polish” their guitar, including soap, vinegar, isopropyl alcohol, lighter fluid, Windex, Fantastic, as well as the three polish alternatives mentioned above.
Needless to say, quite a few damaged and even wrecked instruments have been brought into my shop for repair over the years.
A decent guitar cleaner and polisher is fairly cheap and will last you quite a while, so I don’t recommend you cook up any homemade concoctions to do the job.
Don’t Confuse Polish With String Cleaner And Lubricant!
A guitar string cleaner and lubricant is not designed to be used on the body of your guitar. It is made to apply to your guitar strings and frets. For more info, see Reduce Guitar String Noise – Make Every Note Sound Awesome!
What’s The Best Guitar Polishing Cloth?
A cloth made from microfiber will usually work best, but any soft cotton cloth will do. Many guitar cleaners and polish come with their own cloth, which is usually your best bet.
An old soft, and clean 100% cotton shirt will do in a pinch.
Never use one cloth for cleaning and polishing unless you are using it with a commercial guitar product that cleans and polishes in one application.
Replace or wash your cloth if it:
- Begins to show signs of wear and tear
- Becomes saturated with polish
- Does not distribute polish evenly on your guitar
- Will not shine you guitar to a high-gloss finish (leaves hazy areas)
- Begins to smell badly (for whatever reason)
Final Thoughts For Guitar Polish Review
Polishing your guitar is a good practice to protect the finish and keep it looking its best. The best guitar polish uses carnauba wax in a specifically designed formulation.
Different polishes can work best for various guitar finishes, like polyurethane and nitrocellulose (nitro) or designs (acoustic, electric, solid-body, semi-hollow body, etc.).
Always read and carefully follow the directions on the polish to see if it is recommended for use with your guitar. This is a good way to avoid damaging the finish and get the best results.
Ultimately, selecting a guitar polish also comes down to your own personal taste in shine, performance, and even smell.
It’s best to try a variety of polishes and settle on the one you like best. The polishes reviewed in this article are high-quality, and they all have something that will work well for various types of guitar finishes.
Always be sure to gently clean your guitar to remove any particulate matter, even if you use a product that cleans and polishes. This will avoid scratching your instrument’s finish.
For more info about guitar maintenance, see Why Change Guitar Strings? – Tips To Play And Sound Awesome! and How To Keep An Electric Guitar In Tune.
Tell Me What You Think
Please leave me a comment below if you enjoyed this guitar polish review, have any questions about these products, or want to leave your own personal review. I will be happy to help you.
- Do you clean and polish your guitar(s)? How often?
- What is your favorite polish and what guitar(s) do you use it on?
- What are the key ingridients you look for in a polish?
- After reading this article, are you thinking about trying a polish or changing to different product? Which one?