If you get together with a few fellow guitarists or musicians, the talk often turns towards set-up, maintenance, and general care of the instrument. That discussion can also reveal how someone may have learned a lesson the hard way and innocently damaged a valued instrument. Horror stories aside, this blog will teach you about looking after your guitar by knowing a few general tips and basically developing some good guitar habits.

Thermometers Temperature

Guitars made from wood and other parts are susceptible to changes in temperature. Damage can occur to not only the finish of the guitar but structurally as well. You will also be constantly tuning your guitar if the temperature fluctuates too much. To avoid extreme temperature changes, you should keep your guitar in its case when travelling to that gig or lesson. You’ll also be interested to know, guitars maintain a more consistent neck alignment and tuning when kept within a generally stable temperature. Top Tip: Room temperature is best.

Humidity on glass

Humidity                                                            

Humidity is also a very large factor in the safety and play-ability of your guitar. You’ll find wood very quickly absorbs moisture when it is too humid. When the environment is too dry, your guitar can crack and separate at the joints around the neck and body. Some of the glues used in the construction of your guitar may weaken when exposed to high humidity and temperature, affecting the bridge, nut and other parts.  

The best humidity to keep looking after your guitar is between 35 and 40 percent. You should keep your guitar in its case with a guitar humidifier to replenish moisture to the wood.  If required, a house or room humidifier or dehumidifier will keep your instruments safe. I have read that some houses with central heating during winter months can become as dry as desert conditions unless humidified.

Guitar string tension

String Tension

Keeping the guitar in tune maintains the tension which will correct the neck alignment, to prevent bending. Playing your guitar regularly makes this easy. I’d recommend tuning your guitar occasionally if it is stored away. This will prevent the incorrect neck alignment.

Guitar being played

Safety and Mindfulness

I saw a performer step on an acoustic guitar once during a performance on a darkened stage. The list goes on, from children roughhousing to whacking it on a microphone stand.  Stuff happens but some basic awareness of where your guitar is goes a long way towards its preservation.

 If you change your strings to a heavier gauge, you may have to adjust the neck as more tension on the neck will cause it to bow (like a bow and arrow). Lighter strings will cause the neck to bow outwards. If you haven’t picked up your guitar in a while and are wondering what you should do, contact Normans (01283 535333).

wiping guitar

Clean

After a good round of playing, take a soft cloth and wipe the neck and strings down to remove any sweat or dirt.  This can prolong string life and keep the back of the neck in good polished condition.

It is useful to keep a cloth in your guitar case. I always give my guitar a good clean when I change the strings and have the fretboard exposed. A thorough cleaning should also be done once or twice a year on the fretboard. This can be done using a proper fretboard cleaning product and then lightly oiled with a soft cloth if dry.

You can ask Normans for some advice on the best cleaning products and polishes for your guitar. This is because different finishes and fretboards require different approaches. I would say, never use anything with silicone in it or any solvent type cleaners.

Overall, my top tips would be…

Keep it cleaned and tuned with good strings on it, you will enjoy your guitar for many years to come. Again, if you are unsure of using anything that looks like a wrench on your guitar, get in touch with Normans. They’ll be able to help.  

If you’d like to hear more from Marc-Andre, you can do here.

About the author

Marc-Andre Seguin is the webmaster, “brains behind” and teacher on JazzGuitarLessons.net, the #1 online resource for learning how to play jazz guitar. He draws from his experience both as a professional jazz guitarist and professional jazz teacher to help thousands of people from all around the world learn the craft of jazz guitar. You can read more at www.jazzguitarlessons.net

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