Performing proper guitar care is the key to longevity in both the appearance and sound of your guitar. Although guitars seem fairly low maintenance, every guitar player should practice guitar maintenance in order to keep their instrument in the best possible shape.
So whether you’ve just bought a brand new guitar or would like to start taking better care of your existing one, here are 8 guitar care tips for keeping your guitar healthy and sounding great.
8 Guitar Care Tips
1. Change the Strings Regularly
It’s obvious, that changing the strings on your guitar will keep it sounding crisp and full. Strings lose their sound quality over time and the more you play your guitar, the faster the quality will deteriorate.
Interesting Read: For a complete guide on how to change your acoustic guitar’s strings check out this guide.
Now, of course, the frequency at which you change your strings will vary depending on much you play. Assuming you play an hour a day, you’ll probably want to change your strings once every 4-6 weeks.
You may also be wondering which strings to use. Well, lucky you, I’ve put together an article on the best acoustic guitar strings.
2. Clean the Fretboard
Oils, dust, and dirt build up on any guitar over time. That’s why it’s a good idea to clean your fretboard every time you change the strings. To do this, start by removing all of the strings and scraping the fretboard gently with a credit card.
Remove the dirt and grime that comes loose and go over the fretboard again with a soft bristle toothbrush. After that, wipe down the fretboard with a soft cloth to remove any additional dirt.
If your guitar has a rosewood neck you can then use a bit of lemon oil and wipe the neck down again. Alternatively, for guitars with maple necks, you can wipe down the fretboard with either Dunlop 65 guitar polish or some lighter fluid.
3. Wipe Down Your Fretboard After Every Use
As mentioned in this previous section, oils, grime, and dirt can build up fast. Wiping down your fretboard after each time you play will help reduce the build up of those unwanted elements, making the cleaning of your fretboard less of a hassle.
To do this, simply take a piece of paper towel, fold it in half length-wise and wrap it under and over your strings as shown in the above image. Apply downward pressure and glide the paper towel a couple of times along the strings from the bridge to the nut of the guitar.
4. Avoid Temperature Extremes
Varying temperatures can expand and contract the wood of your guitar resulting in unpleasant outcomes.
Overexposure to sunlight can also cause the finish on your guitar to fade, making it look less cosmetically appealing. Additionally, a dip in temperature can cause adverse effects to the alignment of your guitar neck, therefore sometimes requiring you to tinker with the truss rod to correct alignment.
Guitars need a dry and cool environment to protect their neck, binding, and inlays. According to Bold Music Lessons, changes in temperatures and humidity can cause permanent damage to your guitar. If anything happens to the core structure of the guitar, the quality of the music it can produce may be affected.
To help mitigate extreme temperature changes, always bring a hard-shell guitar case with you and try your best to keep it inside.
5. Clean and Polish Your Guitar
In order to keep your guitar looking in pristine condition, it’s important to regularly use a cleaning solution and polisher that will make your guitar shine and enhance the look of the wood. A good rule of thumb is to clean and polish your guitar on a bi-weekly basis.
This will also help increase its resale value in the event you want to sell it down the road. The Dunlop 654 guitar polish is a great product to use for polishing your guitar’s body.
6. Keep Your Guitar Humidified
Humidifiers are a great way to protect your guitar while it’s stored away in a case. Dry periods of weather can create dips, bends, and even cracks in your guitar. Keeping the humidity in check ensures that the wood in your guitar receives the right amount of moisture and stays healthy.
If you need a suggestion for a humidifier, check out this one from D’Addario. Simply wet the sponge every 3-4 days and insert the humidifier between the strings in the soundhole.
For best results, put your guitar in a hard-shell case so that the sponge doesn’t evaporate too quickly.
7. Be Careful Not to Scratch or Ding Your Guitar
When playing your guitar be aware of what you’re wearing so that you don’t accidentally scratch or ding your guitar.
Belts, rings, zipper jackets, and necklaces are all examples of things that should be taken off before picking up a guitar. You might not even notice it but when you’re rocking out to your favorite song and these hard surfaces rub together you could end up with some nasty scratches on your brand new Les Paul.
8. Bring Your Guitar to a Technician for a Tune-Up
Bringing your guitar to a professional guitar technician is like bringing your car to a mechanic for its yearly inspection.
A guitar technician will check the alignment of your guitar neck, adjust the action to your liking, check for any loose/lifting frets, etc…
Bringing your guitar to a technician for an annual tune-up should be an important part of your guitar care routine if you plan to keep the guitar for a while and want it to be in tip-top shape.
Now that you know the basics of guitar care and maintenance, it’s time to put them into practice.
Be sure to keep these tips in mind every time you play, and your guitar will stay sounding and looking great for years to come.
Although most of these tips you can take care of yourself, you should always consider bringing your guitar to a qualified technician for a yearly tune up. Skipping this will eventually lead to a guitar that is beyond repair and you’ll regret not tuning it up sooner.