Guitar Maintenance Essentials

October 14th, 2011

One of the biggest mistakes beginners make after purchasing their first guitar is thinking that is the last time they’ll have to worry about the actual instrument and with all the emphasis placed on actually learning the guitar we wanted to set aside today to talk guitar maintenance essentials.

Your guitar should be treated like a vehicle. If may operate but if you forget to change the oil and air up the tires eventually the automobile is going to break down. The same is true of a guitar. If you reserve a few minutes every month for guitar maintenance your instrument will stay in phenomenal shape and last for years. What do you need to do?

First let’s start with ways you should never treat your instrument. If you neglect the guitar it will result in costly repairs…

  • Never subject you guitar to extreme environmental conditions: heat, cold, very moist or dry air
  • Avoid leaving it in typical places where extreme conditions can occur (a car trunk, an attic, etc)
  • Avoid leaving the guitar in direct sunlight, especially for extended periods of time
  • Never use home cleaning products on your guitar, they can damage it!

Now that you understand what you need to avoid, be sure to follow these guitar maintenance tips…

Keep It Clean

Visit your local music store and invest in guitar polish, fretboard oil and other products designed to keep your instrument clean. Whenever you play natural oils transfer from your body to the guitar. It may be subtle yet over time the instrument becomes dirty. You need to polish the wood and clean the metal, plastic, etc parts from time to time. Depending on how much you play, do this 1-3x a month.

Another simple yet neglected practice is to ALWAYS wash your hands thoroughly each time before you play. Avoid eating greasy foods (like pizza) prior and definitely while you practice. After you finish playing wipe the strings down with a soft cloth. It will not only keep the instrument clean, but also increase the length of the strings.

Protect Guitar w/ Soft or Hard Case

If you do not own a soft or hard guitar case be sure to get one! The best guitar maintenance procedure is preventative and storing your instrument in a gig bag will always protect your instrument from the elements. When you start playing shows it’s especially important to have a traveling case.

Changing Guitar Strings

A lot of people ask, “How often should I change my strings?” The answer depends on how much you play as well as personal preference. Guitar strings do wear out and you’ll begin to recognize strings that need replaced with experience. If the tone is no longer as strong (sounds dull) it’s a good indication you need to change guitar strings. If the strings have actual dirt spots you should use that as another warning. If in doubt, try to change you strings at least every 6 months.

Periodic Check-Up

Whenever you change strings is a great time to clean the fretboard with an oil (sold at music stores), wipe the actual frets, dust off the knobs and other plastic parts as well as polish the body of the guitar like previously mentioned. During this time you can scan your instrument for any concerns. Do this periodically and your guitar will last longer and stay in better shape!

Leave a Reply