Guitar Maintenance and How to Maintain Your Guitar
In this blog, we will explain how to maintain your guitar to keep it in it's best playing condition.
It finally happened! You bought the guitar you’ve been dreaming of! We know the excitement, the anticipation to get it home to play, the inspiration it pulls out of you, and the way you can’t stop staring at it.
Like most things, a guitar isn’t going to remain perfect when you’re using it every day. As you play it more and more you find things will get dirty, worn out, rusty, or it just won’t play the way it did before. You need not fret though! Here are a few guitar maintenance tips so you can make sure you do to keep your guitar playing and looking as good as when you first laid eyes on it (sometimes even better).
How to Clean Your Guitar
This one seems obvious, but I cannot overstate the amount of instruments I’ve had come through our repair bench that required more time wiping and polishing the whole thing, rather than any mechanical fixes. There are a few things you can do to make sure your gorgeous instrument remains the beauty it is.
Firstly, having some sort of plush micro-fibre cloth near where you practice is always helpful. I know I keep one in all of my guitar cases, and always take two seconds to give my instrument a quick once over before putting it back on the stand, or in it’s case. Even if you don’t think it needs it, it adds up, and makes the more involved cleaning time easier.
Now comes the proper cleaning time, and it is so important to remember that the body of your guitar and the fretboard should be treated very differently. For the body there are plenty of different options, but the biggest thing is to just be aware of the finish on your guitar and making sure that the product you buy is recommended for it. Most of the time it’s fine, but some vintage finishes can be very temperamental. Use them with a microfibre cloth, go over and remove any dust or dirt first, then hit it with your polish, and remember that you don’t want to rub hard at all (gloss finishes especially can be very easy to scratch).
Knowing your fretboard is important, if it’s a maple fretboard you may just want to use a cloth with no extra products (finished boards are easy to keep clean and gently rubbing them down may be all you need, you can even use a bit of the body polish as song as the finish isn’t damaged at all). For unfinished necks you will find products that are either split between a cleaner and a conditioner, or some that are a combination of the two. You’ll want that fretboard looking nice and clean, then use a bit of conditioner to keep it from drying out. If you do this whenever you change the strings you won’t have any issues, that board will always feel amazing, and you’ll avoid that awful build up of dirt and DNA.
The frets can sometimes be overlooked by people, but shiny frets will keep your guitar looking like it just came out of the factory, and will make bends feels a lot nicer. You will need a set of fretguards to keep the wood protected, then just use the finest grade steel wool possible and gently go over them until they polish up. Don’t forget to cover your pickups as the magnets will attract all the steel fillings and we absolutely don’t want that.
Lastly you may also want to invest in a string cleaner. There are some that , some that are wiped on, but they will all extend the life-span of your strings, get the grime off them, and keep them feeling smooth to play. If you use treated strings then just running over them with a cloth after playing is all you need.
Some things are inevitable, and for a guitar player you will get used to the process of changing your strings soon enough. It can sometimes be a hassle, but the result is worth it, a new set of strings has a brightness and sound that older strings lose in time. You may also want to try a different brand or a different gauge to better suit what you want to play. The process is a tad too long to go into here, but there are a lot of resources online, and even our tutorial on YouTube! You may make some mistakes along the way, but it will be like tying your shoelaces and eventually you’ll be able to do it with your eyes closed (figuratively speaking). Always try to have a spare set of strings, a good pair of side cutters, and a string winder if you’d like to save a bit of time.
Storing Your Guitar
Not something you may think about that often, but where your guitars go when they aren’t being played is so important to their care. We all love to have them out on display, but just be aware not to leave them anywhere that gets too hot, too cold, or somewhere they’ll get hours of direct sunlight (they are made of wood after all, and harsh temperature changes can throw your set up completely out, or even cause damage to the instrument). In some places this may be less of a concern but here in Brisbane we enjoy lovely tropical weather, knowing our instruments will enjoy it a lot less. Storing your guitar away in a gig bag or case does less to liven up the room, but it will definitely keep the instrument safer (consider even getting a humidifier for your acoustic guitars that are going to be packed away for a while).
We’ve already gone for a while, so this won’t go into detail on how the setup process, but there are a few tools that will always be helpful to have for when it does come time to do the set up. The two main tools will be a set of allen keys, and a screwdriver set. Different guitars will use different sizes, so having a kit helps. The other part which will make the process so much easier is a cradle for the neck, and a mat to do your work on so the guitar isn’t damaged by whatever table or desk you’re working on (works the other way as well).
That pretty much covers the basics. As always we’re here to help you, and if you have any questions, or need to know which products will best suit your guitar, you can get in contact with us and we can run you through it. We also offer restringing and setups in the store, if you would like us to take care of it for you.