If you’re a guitar player, you’re probably painfully aware of how much money can be invested in purchasing one of these instruments. With the prices of most name brand guitars increasing every day, it’s a good idea to take care of your investment. If you pay good money for a quality instrument, there’s no reason why it can’t last you a lifetime if you care for it properly. This article is designed to offer a few tips about caring for your guitar, and my advice applies to both electric guitars and acoustic guitars. There are other things you can do to protect your instrument, but here are a few basic ideas.
- Clean and polish your guitar on a regular basis. This will protect the finish of the guitar and will probably enhance the beauty of it by bringing out the delicate figuring of the woods used in its construction. Regularly cleaning and polishing the guitar will also act as a deterrant to fading and finish checking, which can rob your guitar of its beauty and devalue it pretty quickly.
- Dress the frets frequently. If you play your guitar often, dirt, oils and grime will build up on the fretboard and accumulate around the frets. I use a toothbrush with very soft bristles and a little soapy water and gently scrub the fretboard, taking special care to get to the seam between the fretboard and the frets. When you finish cleaning the fretboard, use a soft cloth and dry it thoroughly. Your fretboard will look nicer, and the speed and action of your guitar will improve also.
- Always throughly wipe down the neck and fretboard of your guitar after a playing session. If you do this, you will eliminate perspiration and oils from your hands, which can be damaging to the finish, and dressing those frets can probably be done a lot less frequently.
- Never expose your guitar to excessive heat or cold. Heat or cold can be damaging to the guitar’s finish, and can cause the neck to warp or otherwise get out of whack. Most neck problems can be solved by a visit to a competent guitar technician, but if you avoid exposing your guitar to temperature extremes those expensive visits can almost be non-existent.
- Always store your guitar in a case–sure, hardshell cases are more expensive than gig bags, but just remember that a quality guitar is an investment, and by using a hardshell case you can protect that investment against damage. You can also purchase a capsule to place in your case so that the humidity is stabilized. Humidity is another factor that can deteriorate a guitar, and these capsules stall that off by regulating the humidity.
- Check and tighten the hardware on your guitar frequently–if you maintain all screws and metal parts, you’ll have no rattles and those parts will last much longer and make your playing experience more enjoyable.
- Speaking of metal parts, they should be cleaned on a regular basis also. I use a metal cleaning compound that’s safe for all types of guitar hardware, and it prevents rust and that sometimes hazy looking cloud that can attack metal pickups. The tuners, rings, string posts and pickups are all parts of the guitar too, and they need some care and attention also to remain in tip top shape.
- Take care to avoid getting dings and scratches on your guitar. These blemishes can ruin the value of a guitar pretty quickly. Avoid playing a guitar with a belt on, because the buckle of that belt can scratch the back of your guitar, causing “buckle rash” and ruining the value of your investment. Never lean your guitar against the wall or against an amplifier–spend $20 and get a good solid guitar stand that will prevent your guitar from being knocked over. Snapped and cracked necks kill a guitar, so take the appropriate precautions–your guitar will thank you!
- Carry your guitar to your guitar technician annually–even if you take all the proper precautions that I’ve listed, all guitars will need adjustments from time to time so that intonation remains good and the strings don’t buzz. A competent guitar tech can make your guitar play like brand new with a few simple adjustments, and it’s not very expensive. In fact, it’s well worth the money.
- Last but not least–play your guitar! A neglected guitar is just like a neglected house–it will go down pretty quickly if it’s not used. Pick it up every day and caress it with your favorite chops and it will be your friend for life.
As I mentioned earlier, this is not an all inclusive list. There are other things that you can do to properly maintain and care for your guitar, but these are the basics, and if you follow these rules, you and your guitar should be together for a good long while.
Thanks for reading.