A Quick Guide to Guitar Care

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Guitar maintenance isn't just for the professionals. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned expert, it's crucial that you know how to care for your instrument. Taking care of your guitar makes it not only look better but also play better, maintaining sound quality year after year. You'll also save money on replacements and repairs, which can cost thousands of dollars for handcrafted instruments. With people taking up the guitar in record numbers, it's a good idea to go over the steps behind proper guitar care and maintenance starting from Day One.

Looking After the Strings

The kind of string that you use has a significant impact on the type of sound that your instrument will produce. Bronze or stainless steel round wound strings work well for folksy, acoustic music, while smoother flat wound strings are better for jazz and soft rock. Famous guitarist Jimi Hendrix was known for carefully selecting string gauges when playing.

Cleaning the strings after each playing session helps to keep grime and finger oils from building up and dulling your sound. Dirt and debris can oxidize strings, causing irreparable damage and forcing you to purchase replacements. You should use a gentle microfiber cloth to avoid accidentally wearing down the strings over time.

Caring for the Neck

The neck of a guitar is somewhat of a weak point in the design. It undergoes a certain degree of stress each time the instrument is played and is prone to warping or cracking. Keeping the neck clean can help to keep it in pristine shape and prolong the life of the instrument. You should rub down the neck with a microfiber cloth after each use and clear grime from between frets using fine grade steel wool every once in a while.

Keeping the Body Clean

Like the rest of the guitar, you can safely wipe down the body of a guitar using a soft microfiber cloth. It won't damage the varnish or scratch the surface. For acoustic guitars, you may want to polish the body every couple of months to maintain its shine. To carefully protect your prized investment though, avoid polishing electric guitars, as varnishes and oils can damage the electronics.

Many famous guitarists are stringent about their guitar care routine, from the oil they use on their strings to the humidity at which they store their instrument. Guitars aren't cheap, and taking care of yours can help to protect your investment and keep your guitar producing a rich, full sound. By paying careful attention to the strings, the neck, and the body of your guitar, you can keep everything clean and in working order!!

-Sally Writes - MU Columnist
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