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Guitar Care And Maintenance Tips

Jan 22, 2008
Every good guitarist will want to take care of their guitar in order to keep it in the best condition. A large part of caring for your guitar is by cleaning it on a regular basis. And as a guitarist, it is your solemn duty to ensure that your guitar it maintained to the best of conditions, in order for it to deliver a quality sound. No matter whether you are a professional guitarist or a beginner, it is essential to undertake the care and maintenance of your guitar.

Your guitar will become dirty with sweat and dust just by playing it. Using a soft cloth is the best way to clean it. Special cloths can be purchased in music stores, or you can simply use an old t-shirt, providing that it is 100% cotton. It is imperative however, that if the t-shirt contains a logo, you firstly remove it, as this can cause damage by scratching the surface of your guitar.

If the surface of your guitar is French polished or lacquered, then cleaning items such as paper towels must be avoided at all times, as these will also cause scratches. If you feel that it is necessary to clean your guitar with paper towels, then it is advised to purchase non-woven shop towels which are available on a roll. These do cost a little more, but they will not scratch your guitar.

You will find that dust accumulates under the strings. Therefore particular attention should be paid to this area of your guitar. Do not be hesitant in inserting a cloth behind the strings and giving it a good rub, at the same time as you are wiping the entire body of your guitar. If you pay close attention to cleaning the strings of your guitar, then their life will be extended. In addition to a normal cleaning routine, it is advised that after every jam session with your guitar, you give the strings a good wipe by holding them firmly through a cloth and rubbing the cloth up and down their length. This will remove any dust, grease from your fingers, perspiration build-up, and skin cells etc.

If you find that you are having difficulty in removing finger prints on your guitar, then you can blow a gentle breath, just as you would with spectacles, to create a little moisture. You will then find that by rubbing your guitar vigorously that the finger prints will be removed. It is also possible to use a slightly moistened soft cloth and a small amount of mild detergent. However, do not overdo it. It is essential that you avoid at all times, getting moisture into the small spaces on the guitar surface. However you choose to remove finger prints from your guitar, it is advised to rub it well afterwards with a soft dry cloth. It is also recommended to change to a clean cloth on a regular basis, to avoid rubbing the dirt from an old cloth back on to the guitar.

There are also various types of commercial guitar cleaners available to purchase, most of which are good products. When purchasing such products, it is essential that you primarily read all instructions on the bottle carefully, and use a water-based product for water-soluble dirt. There are creamy polishes available on the market, but they do have a tendency to be slightly abrasive. Therefore, if your guitar has a matte finish, then it is recommended not to use a cream product.

If your guitar should have a sticky residue from tape or stickers on it, then this will need to be removed by using mineral spirits. It is also possible to use lighter fluid, which is otherwise known as naphtha. Neither of these products will cause any harm to the finish of your guitar. However, you will need to remove the solvent with a damp cloth to buff your guitar clean after removing tape or stickers. Ensure that you are careful when cleaning sticky residue off your guitar, as you do not want to spread it around the rest of the guitar.

The fingerboard of a guitar, along with the strings and the fret wire are subject to acidity in the player's hands. Therefore it is advised to completely remove the strings and rub up and down the fingerboard with a piece of extra fine grade steel wool. When rubbing the frets, it is essential that you take care not to catch the ends of them with the steel wool. The steel wool does not need to be wet before undertaking this process. It is after a few motions that the frets should be shiny. Obviously this depends on how dirty the fingerboard initially is. If the surface of the fingerboard is not cracked or damaged, then you can apply a little lemon oil to prevent the wood from cracking, which is caused by temperature and humidity.
About the Author
Kevin Sinclair is the publisher and editor of MusicianHome.com, a site that provides information and articles for musicians at all stages of their development.
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