How can I help to keep my guitar in good working condition?
Most people like to keep their guitar looking, playing and sounding as good as the day they first bought it. Basic guitar maintenance needn’t be a hassle, what with a few helpful tips and some advice from our musical instrument repair technicians here at Edinburgh Guitar Repair Centre. Just like you would take your car to the car wash, to get a service or MOT, looking after your guitar or bass should be thought of in the same way.
Wash your hands before you play your guitar
This might be seen a bit pedantic, but your fingers release sweat and as you will probably already know, sweat is basically a mixture of water, urea, ammonia and salt (none of which work particularly well with guitar strings). Through time this will cause a build up on your strings and cause your strings to rust and decay. You can clean your strings with products like Planet Waves XLR8 String Lubricant and Cleaner, however, prevention is better than cure! We see lots of guitars with horrific amounts of what we commonly refer to as ‘gunk’ (grease, dead skin cells, sweat, bits of food, spilt alcohol, etc). By giving your hands a good wash, you will definitely prolong the life of your guitar strings significantly. You can also wipe your strings down once you have finished playing for the day by using a microfibre cloth, these won’t scratch your neck, body or fingerboard as they are very light.
Give your guitar a clean from time to time
Guitars aren’t ornaments, and through time they will pick up dents, scratches and chips, some people see it as adding character to their guitar. However, one thing that doesn’t add character is dirt. Grime, grease and dust on your guitar can make it look tatty, but there is a simple and easy way around this. By giving your guitar a thorough clean from time to time, you can keep it looking much healthier and shinier. Be careful what type of cloths you use on your guitar as the finish is particularly delicate and even the softest cloths can leave small scratches. We strongly recommend that you only use microfibre cloths that have no stitching or labels sewn on, as these can cause scratching too (it is ok if the thread on the seam is made out of the same microfibre material as the cloth itself). The best cloths on the market are the Planet Waves Microfibre guitar polish cloths that have microfibres that are 100 times finer than a human hair! Be careful what type of polish you use, we recommend avoiding polishes and just using the cloth if it is just dust you are removing. If there are more stubborn marks that you want to get off, you can purchase D’Addario Guitar Instant Spray Cleaner, which cleans and shines guitars with little effort, you will see how easy basic guitar maintenance can be.
Cleaning your guitar’s fretboard and frets
One of the best ways to make your guitar feel brand new to play is by cleaning the fretboard and the frets. This can only be done when you are changing the strings and taken the strings off from your guitar to expose the fretboard and frets. First, you can clean the fretboard using D’Addario Lemon Oil which is specially formulated to remove dirt and grime, but also lubricate the wood on the neck of your guitar to prevent it drying out, lemon oil brings your fretboard back to life almost instantly. Secondly, once you have wiped off the excess lemon oil and your fretboard is looking fresh and clean, you can move onto the frets themselves. Frets build up dirt through time and start to rust also, this can affect the tone of your guitar and also damage your strings significantly. You will notice this most when you do string bends and it isn’t quite as slick as a new guitar. Not to worry, you can clean the frets easily. We recommend the Planet Waves Fret Polishing System, it sounds complicated, but it really isn’t. It comes with a stencil that you sit over the fret, the fret pops through and you then use the special cloths provided, the difference this makes is absolutely incredible! Do the first fret, then feel the difference between the 1st and the 2nd (the one you haven’t done yet), the difference is night and day, then go on to clean the rest of the frets.