It is not a secret that like any other things, guitars are just simple instruments susceptible to damage under clumsy hands. What we don’t want to happen is to wait for something to go wrong when its gig time before we start taking care of our instruments.
Just like any car that needs special attention to keep the motors running, guitars also benefit largely from a bit of TLC from time to time. Although consulting your local tech can be the wisest solution whenever you got issues with your guitar, many problems can be solved and even prevented if we just follow our top tips on how to care for your guitars. Learn all these and surely, your guitar will reward you with years of quality and good service.
Guitar care tips for everyone
The Role of Humidity
Primarily, your guitar is made from a selection of woods. Woods highly react to moisture, making the humidity in the environment very important to consider when caring for a guitar. Unlike electric guitars, acoustic versions are relatively sensitive because of their delicate and thin construction. While this could make all that lovely tone for acoustics, it could also be the primary source of issues if you’re not very mindful.
Higher humidity level means there is an increase of moisture in the air, which causes the woods on your guitar to swell. As a result, the joins of the guitar will start to separate (like the bridge can possibly start to lift), affecting the play ability of the guitar.
On the other hand, dryness is far more serious where it could shrink the wood and cause cracks, especially on the top of guitar. In order to tell whether the humidity causes dryness for your guitar, check whether the edges of the frets away from the wood becomes unusually sharp. Another way to check is by putting a ruler under the bridge, across the bout of the guitar. You should notice that the guitar’s top must bow slightly outwards, having small gaps towards the outside edges underneath the ruler. If your guitar is sunken or flat, you should take action immediately.
In order to prevent having humidity problems in the future, your guitar must be in an environment with a stable humidity of 45 to 55%. Since you cannot actually control the temperature of the environment, one of the best tips you can get is to put your instruments back in their case in between or after sessions. Better yet, buy yourself a humidifier, a dehumidifier and a digital hygrometer to carefully control the humidity in your environment.
Proper Cleaning of Your Guitar
Cleaning is one of the basic steps in order to effectively maintain the beauty and function of your guitar. Whether you are dealing with an all-laminate, budget, or luthier-crafted beauties, every guitar needs cleaning regularly and will play better as a reward. Sweat, dust, dead skin cells and natural body oils can leave marks on your guitar physically, leaving marks on the finish or worst, corroding the frets and leaving disgusting deposits on the fingerboard.
Always keep a dry and clean cloth in your guitar case so you can give your instrument a nice wipe after every session. But if you’re guitar needs some thorough cleaning, look for guitar cleaning products in the market. Carefully read the label and know if the particular cleaner is suitable for your guitar and its finish.
Conditioning the Fingerboard
In a guitar, the fingerboard usually is the part left unsealed or unfinished. That is why almost always, this is also the first area to show issues of dryness. In order to avoid this, the best way is to condition the fingerboard using a guitar specific conditioner. It won’t only hydrate the surface of the wood but also remove and lift up remaining dirt and grime left on the fret board.
Always make sure that you will buy the right type of conditioner appropriate for dark colored fingerboard wood that doesn’t contain silicone in it. Be careful not to overdo conditioning because too much moisture can also cause adverse effects too.
Properly Restring your Guitar
Surprisingly, even veteran players get restringing wrong, causing lots of issues from poor intonation or tuning stability to breakage of the string.
When fitting strings on your acoustic guitar, stuffing the bridge pins in and hoping for the best is not what’s needed here. Instead, ensure the ball end of the string gives enough tension correctly to prevent it from flying out when tuning your guitar up to pitch.
Use proper tools for removing bridge pins and do not use metal pliers and snips. These tools might just snap or chew up the pins. More importantly, always check for the condition of the bridge pins each time you remove them from your guitar. If they are worn out, they need to be replaced.
The ball end of the string must be secured against the underside of the bridge to secure your guitar’s tone and sustain. It should not be allowed to rest on the tip of the pin. Next is slipping the guitar string into the hole in the bridge. Use a bridge pin when sliding the string into the hole making sure the groove in the pin faces the sound hole of your guitar.
While pushing the bridge pin in place, simultaneously pull the string using your free hand and you should feel the snap as it goes into place.
Cut the string at approximately two inches longer than its designated machine head. Then, insert the string through the hole of the machine head and begin winding the string using a string winder. Give the string a nice stretch and repeat the stringing process with the remaining strings. After all of it is done, start retuning the guitar.
Lastly, yet the very effective way to care for your guitar is to use it regularly. It saddens me to see guitars start to wear out because they are just stocked and lacks regular usage. Play with your guitar, properly care for it and it will surely maintain its quality and sound.