They say a good workman never blames his tools – but does his best to look after them. Any accomplished player will agree that careful, consistent guitar maintenance is as vital as learning to play. A neglected guitar will only negatively affect your playing; it will most likely cost you money on repairs that could be prevented. Today we’ve listed a handful of simple practices that you can implement to ensure that your guitar stays in prime condition. You can apply these practices to both bass and standard electric guitars and for most guitar models.
Bag it Up
Keeping your guitar in a safe, sturdy case is one of the simplest ways to ensure its safety and upkeep. Ideally, you’ll want a hard case with soft padding on the inside to prevent your guitar from getting scratched during handling. The interior of your guitar case should also fit the length and shape of your guitar, and some cases come with straps to secure the guitar at the neck for extra protection.
Guitar cases keep your guitar dry and help them withstand any extreme temperature or climate changes that may happen while traveling. Hard cases can sometimes be a bit too large and awkwardly shaped for certain travel situations. There is a healthy selection of differently shaped soft cases to remedy this issue, as long as an extra precaution is taken while packing luggage and instruments.
Neck and Neck
The neck and fretboard make up for fifty percent of a guitar’s playability, so it’s easy to understand why it both needs to be looked after. Guitar necks are built using a truss rod inside them to help them maintain structural integrity. The truss rod also provides the neck with a tensile strength to bend and warp slightly under different conditions. If your strings start to lift off the fretboard or the neck begins to bend excessively, you will need to get your truss rod serviced urgently, as this might lead to severe breakage.
Fretboards generally gather a lot of dust, dirt, and residue from players’ fingers. Over time these components compound and create a layer of thick grease on the surface of the fretboard. This grease stunts your neck’s resonance and makes it trickier to push down on a particular fret for precise notation. You can use a tissue or soft cloth to wipe down your fretboard between uses. Certain guitar shops also stock special fretboard oils and conditioners to keep your fretboard clean and fully resonant.
Guitar strings receive most of the physical damage during usage and determine a large portion of your guitar tone. It’s healthy to wipe your strings down with a cloth or tissue before and after use, as they gather the same type of gunk as the fretboard, with similar negative results. Most active players try to change their guitar strings every six to eight weeks. This habit assumes that you’re practicing every day and playing or rehearsing at least twice a week.
Selecting the right string gauge will also help your strings last longer and place unnecessary stress on the neck. Thicker gauges create a higher tension on the guitar neck, causing excessive wear and tear. Your local guitar supplier or service person should be able to recommend the right string gauge for your guitar.
Guitar electronics are a slightly more complex area of guitar maintenance. Negligent electronic repair or maintenance can lead to much more serious issues and expenses. It should go without saying that you should keep your guitar clear of any liquids and not be left in the sun for long periods. Although minor, smoke does cause long-term damage to electronics, so try to keep your guitar in a smoke-free area when possible.
If you’re playing through an electronic amp, always make sure that there is sufficient grounding in your environment and that the power grid you’re playing on is stable. Try to protect the jack input as much as possible by securing your guitar jack onto your strap while playing. Also, try to make sure that the pods under your volume and tone knobs are dust and moisture-free.
The Right Touch
While caring for a guitar consists of some fairly simple habits and routine checks, your guitar will probably benefit greatly from a professional service. Most touring bands employ guitar tech to ensure that their instruments remain in optimum performance for every show. Reliable guitar technicians and servicemen know how to service and repair every component that makes up a guitar, from the strings and electronics to the fittings and the body. You’ll benefit significantly from becoming familiar with a local guitar service person, in the same way, you might get acquainted with a local doctor. In this way, you’ll have the service of someone who can keep constant tabs on you and your guitar’s performance.
There are fewer worse situations in a live performance than having faulty gear break down, especially if it’s your guitar. The above-listed practices can help prevent you from this nightmare and also passively optimize your guitar’s playability. Caring for your guitar does not require an extreme amount of attention or discipline, but it is essential to prolong your guitar’s life and maintain its optimum performance. Thanks for reading through our simple guide on proper guitar care.