Guitar Maintenance: A Guide To The Best Guitar Care 

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Playing the guitar is a real joy for anyone who loves music and enjoys making music. However, occasionally, a string will break or a fault in your instrument may present itself. Therefore, it is important for you, as a musician, to know the basics of how to maintain your guitar and learn a bit of guitar maintenance. This is so that you can be playing at your best with nothing getting in the way. 

In this article, we will take a look at what guitar maintenance is, why it matters and some guitar maintenance tips for you to consider. 

What Is Guitar Maintenance?

Guitar maintenance is keeping your guitar in the best shape possible by carrying out tasks such as changing strings, adjusting the truss rod and cleaning the instrument and so on. Well-maintained guitars are far more pleasant to play and tend to sound better. 

Of course, each different type of guitar will require different maintenance procedures. For example, classical guitar maintenance is different from electric guitar maintenance. 

guitar player

Why Does Guitar Maintenance Matter?

Guitar maintenance is extremely important, particularly for the pro- player. It ensures that you get the maximum enjoyment from your instrument as well as reliability if you play live. Ultimately, if you aren’t taking care of your guitar, it may not sound great and will eventually break in some way.

Getting familiar with some simple guitar maintenance rules early on will save you loads of stress, money, and even heartbreak later on.

Guitar Maintenance Tips

In this section, we will take a look at some guitar maintenance tips for you to consider.

Without further ado, let’s jump in!

Avoid Rusty Guitar Strings

Changing guitar strings is the most common maintenance aspect. It isn’t a hard job, but it does require care and precision. 

Try to get into the habit of washing your hands before playing the guitar. Your fingers and palms contain moisture and oils that can damage your guitar strings. Sweat is mostly water, however, it also includes salt, sugar, and salt. This unique composition speeds up the rate at which guitar strings rust.

Unfortunately, all the metal parts in your guitar that have contact with rusty strings will suffer. If your guitar strings start sounding a bit dead, you can buy a new set and put some fresh strings on your guitar.

man playing guitar

Monitor The Humidity

Humidity is water in the air (hot or cold). An important term in this department is ‘RH’, which stands for Relative Humidity. 

Humidity can cause the wood of the guitar to expand, which can make the strings buzz due to the action becoming higher or lower. Experts recommended the RH level is 45-55%. This will ensure the wood doesn’t contract or expand.

In order to check the humidity level in your acoustic guitar, get yourself a hydro-thermometer. This here is one of the best guitar maintenance products you can buy in order to keep your guitar at the correct humidity. 

Keep Your Guitar Dust Free

Dust can cause frets to fail- this means that some frets of your guitar will not make any sound when pushed down. 

There are multiple ways in which guitars can collect dust, the 2 most common being improper storage and no regular cleaning.

However, it is super easy to avoid. If your guitar does get dusty, a quick wipe down with a soft dry cloth is all you need.

Store Your Guitar Properly

Keeping your guitar safe and in excellent playing condition is all about what you do with it when you’re not playing it. It sounds strange but it’s true. Keeping it in a safe location like its case and maintaining the proper humidity level where it’s stored are all key for proper guitar care.

Keep Your Guitar In A Case

If a guitar isn’t being played, it belongs in a guitar case. This is the best way to ensure that it is safe while you’re not playing it. Guitars look great on a stand, but if knocked over, there’s more at stake than just a ding or dent. 

If you would like to store your guitar(s) on a stand or wall hanger, make sure that the room’s humidity is closely monitored. However, the environment within a guitar case is much easier to maintain and recommended.


Dramatic Temperature Changes

Guitars are also subject to temperature changes, especially when traveling. Dramatic changes in temperature over a short period can potentially damage or even warp parts of the instrument. 

Therefore, we recommend that you don’t leave a guitar in the heat or cold for too long. If you need to, say for a gig, bring it into the new environment and allow as much time as possible to adjust before removing it from the case. You could even unlock the guitar case and crack it open to speed up the process.

Maintain Consistent Humidity

A very easy and also incredibly important tip for guitar care is properly humidifying; especially for acoustic guitars. 

The best investment you can make with your new instrument is not a new set of guitar strings or fancy guitar strap. It’s a humidification system that will ensure that your guitar is kept at a constant 45% – 50% humidity level. 

Failure to do this will result in cracks, sharp fret ends and failed bridges. Learn more about why proper humidification is so essential to guitar care and maintenance.  

How To Clean A Guitar

Another tip for guitar care is regularly cleaning your guitar. Cleaning will help to keep your precious instrument shiny and new. Additionally, it will prolong the life of your strings and prevent your hardware from tarnishing or prematurely aging. 

Here are some tips for you to consider on how to keep your guitar squeaky clean. 

Daily Guitar Cleaning Practices

Proper guitar care requires you to clean your guitar daily. Try to get into the habit of washing your hands before playing. Our hands are covered in a lot of dirt, oils, and sweat, but our guitars don’t have to be. 

So for guitar maintenance, washing your hands before playing can help keep your guitar safe from the dirty things that we’re exposed to throughout the day. 

Furthermore, you should get into the habit of wiping your guitar after playing, too. Before you lock up your guitar in the case, it’s a good habit to give it a quick wipe down with a polishing cloth. 

Pay specific attention to the strings and any hardware, since this is the place where your hands spend most of their time. Wiping down your strings will help keep your strings fresh and give them more life. 

playing guitar

Cleaning Potentiometers

Debris like dust and sweat will accumulate in potentiometers (knobs). This can lead to them making a scratchy sound when you turn them. However, do not fear as this is very common!

For better guitar maintenance, there is even DeoxIt spray available for deep cleaning and to maintain performance. However, sometimes the scratchy sound doesn’t go away, despite your best efforts. This is the time when you may want to take your instrument to a technician.

Guitar Fretboard Care & Maintenance

Whenever you change or remove your strings, it is a good idea to clean your fretboard also. There are a plethora of fretboard conditioners on the market today, all of which will work wonders for your guitar. 

You can avoid fret sprouting, fretboard cracks, or finish damage by simply running your fretboard oil down the fingerboard of your guitar and rubbing it in with a polish cloth. Avoid using furniture polish or any glass cleaner on a guitar as this will not react well with the finish. 

Maple Fretboards

Maple fretboards are tricky in particular. If your guitar has a maple fretboard as many Stratocasters and Telecasters do, you won’t want to use lemon oil or a fretboard conditioner on them. 

More often than not, these are lacquered over and it’s only necessary to wipe them down with a microfiber cloth and maybe a small amount of guitar polish.

playing an electric guitar

Polishing The Finish

Polishing the finish essential for electric guitar maintenance. But before you do so, ensure that you’ve taken the time to remove any dust or fingerprints from the guitar with only your microfiber cloth. 

Failing to remove hard debris like metal flakes will scratch your gloss finish.

Once you have done this, spray your cloth with the guitar polish and lightly wipe down the guitar in circular patterns. Be sure to get the back of the neck and headstock while you’re at it. Also, try not to leave any residue behind.

Satin & Matte Finishes

If your guitar has a natural, matte or satin finish, ditch the polish and wipe the guitar down with a polish cloth for optimal guitar care. These finishes will naturally darken and change wherever your skin makes contact with it, but consider that character and what makes it yours. 

Wiping your instrument down regularly will help prevent this but should be expected over time with a natural or satin-finished instrument.

Guitar Care Products

Here we will list off some of the essential guitar care products for guitar string maintenance, acoustic guitar maintenance, bass guitar maintenance and much more. 

Big Bends Nut Sauce

This is excellent nut lubricant for your guitar. This allows your string to move more freely throughout the nut and help to prevent breakages and improve tuning stability.

GHS Fast Fret

GHS fast fret is a fantastic string cleaner that will add the extra zing to your strings when they start to feel a little bit dead. 

Instrument Polish

If you want to spruce up your guitar, then be sure to have some instrument polish in your guitar maintenance arsenal. It will help get rid of any of the gunk and grime that builds up on your guitar.

Fretboard Conditioner

Fretboard conditioner is essential to help with preventing any build-up on your fretboard whilst keeping it fresh and pleasant to play. 

girl playing guitar

Guitar Maintenance Tools

You can buy one of the best guitar maintenance kits from companies like planet waves.

String Winder

A string winder is an essential part of your guitar tool kit as it will help you change your strings a lot more efficiently. 

Allen Keys

Having a tool kit with allen keys will allow you to adjust the action on your guitar and, on some instruments, allow you to adjust the truss rod. They will also come in very handy when you have a floyd rose system on your guitar as you will need to unlock the nut from time to time.

String Cutter / Pliers

These are the bread and butter for guitar maintenance that will allow you to change your strings with great ease. Some string cutter tools will even have a string winder on them so be sure to have a look around for some of them.

Guitar Service

Servicing your guitar is always beneficial for the average player as it can help improve the playability of your instrument. However, it is absolutely crucial if you have a vintage guitar.

If you want your guitar to last so long that it eventually receives the title of being ‘vintage’, then the guitar needs regular servicing from a technician. This will ensure that any minor or major issues are diagnosed and fixed before they cause the guitar to be completely useless. 

Another reason for you to service a guitar is that it saves you time. Guitar technicians have the tools and patience required for the job. So you can spend more time playing a less time setting your guitar up

Guitar Maintenance Course

If you like a bit of DIY, you can also do a quick search in your local area or online for guitar maintenance courses. These can provide a better understanding of your instrument and how to take care of it.

girl playing guitar in bedroom

That Was Our Guide On Guitar Maintenance

There we have it! Here is our guide on guitar maintenance! We’ve gone through how to clean your guitar properly and also how to store your instrument to ensure it is as healthy as possible. Additionally, we have touched on some of the tools you should consider using and some great products you should definitely know about.

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