Regardless of you having a custom shop guitar or a cheap one, It doesn’t matter, your guitar needs care and attention!
Here you can find some tips on how to care for your guitar:
#1: Remove your strings. You should only remove two or three at a time in order to minimize any changes to neck tension.
You only remove all strings when you need to polish your fretboard with some care-oil. But you only need to do that 3-5 times a year.
#2: If you don’t need to change strings, wipe them down with a dry lint-free cloth after each playing session. Keeping them clean will make them last longer.
#3: If your fretboard is really grimy, finish off with a light rub over using extra fine steel wool (don’t do this on maple fretboards though, as you will strip away the finish).
#4: If you follow Tip #3, cover your guitar’s pickups with another cloth or some duct tape. Even steel wool’s tiny particles will be attracted to your pickup magnets
Fine Lookin’ Finish
#5: You shouldn’t need anything too abrasive on your guitar’s body and neck. A bit of hard polishing with a dry cloth or, if it’s really filthy, a slightly damp but not “wet” cloth will mostly do the trick.
Many guitars have several coats of a high-quality nitrocellulose lacquer. “Nitro” ages nicely but is also porous. Avoid dripping-wet cloth at all costs.
#6: Always apply your cleaner on a rag first, not directly to the guitar.
#7: Try to use different cloth for fretboard and guitar body. It will stop you from transferring dirt from one place to the other.
#8: Do not use everyday furniture polish on a guitar. The oils in most furniture polishes will likely seep into wood and change density and sound.
#9: When it comes to bridges, pickups, tuners and nuts, you shouldn’t have to do much. A slightly damp cloth can clean your bridge, but a pipe cleaner or a small, soft toothbrush can be used here for major grime.
#10: A dab of glass cleaner on a cloth is good for giving a polish to metal tuners.
#11: Pickups can get a bit dirty. But never put any moisture near them. A dry, clean cloth is the only advisable way to polish pickup covers.
#12: A quality, soft, small, clean paintbrush (maybe camel hair) is also good for a regular dust-away before you clean.
#13: If your guitar is clean, don’t leave your guitar exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time: it could prematurely damage and crack the finish.
#14: In general: do not use any abrasive cleaning products on your guitar, no matter what state it’s in. Buy specific guitar-recommended products. Long-term, they will keep your guitar cared for life. Add a pro-luthier set-up once in a while, and you’re golden.
These are some important steps for taking care of your guitar. With these tips, your guitar will always look good and keep you a happy player 🙂
About the author
Roger Walder is a student of professional guitar teacher and musician Gonçalo Crespo. Gonçalo is the founder of Music&Co., a guitar music school based in Zurich, Switzerland that offers tuition for acoustic and electric guitar. Check it out under Gitarrenunterricht Zurich.