Guitar maintenance isn't as scary a topic as guitar repair, but it's just as important, perhaps even more so. A properly maintained instrument can have a much improved lifespan over a guitar that's mistreated or poorly maintained. Fortunately, basic instrument maintenance is pretty simple, though it does require regular commitment and a little attention to some basic concerns.
One of the most important things you can do to help maintain the health
of your instruments, particularly your acoustic guitars, is maintain a
proper humidity level. Typically, you want your guitars stored at a 40% -
50% humidity level. Much lower and you risk drying out your guitars,
which can lead to cracking. Much more and you increase the possibility
of the guitars swelling from too much moisture.
The best course
of action is to keep your guitars in their cases and make sure they are
not stored next to any heating units, taking care to use in-case
humidifiers if needed.. Of course, many of us prefer to keep our
instruments out so we can play them more. In that case, it's highly
recommended that you purchase a humidistat to monitor humidity levels
and purchase a room humidifier to maintain proper humidity.
addition to humidification, it's always best to avoid any extreme
temperature changes with your guitars. If you do happen to take your
guitar from one extreme to another (e.g. from a cold car trip to a warm
house), let it acclimate in its case for at least an hour. And no matter
what, never keep your guitars in your car overnight. That's seriously
asking for trouble. A good rule of thumb is to treat your guitars like
you would a pet or a child. If you wouldn't leave your dog Buster or
your baby brother there for too long, treat your guitar the same way.
course, proper cleaning of the instrument is essential. Always take the
time to clean off your strings and clean the fretboard. For electric
guitars, check the health of the volume and tone pots as well as the
input jack. A little maintenance here and there can save you some real
hassle at a gig or practice.
It also goes without saying that a
quality gig bag or hardshell case will provide substantive protection
for your instrument. While you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars
to get quality protection, you don't want to skimp either. Cheap gig
bags and cases are really nothing more than dust covers. You want to get
the best protection you can afford.
Finally, maintaining proper
adjustment of the guitar's neck and intonation as well as changing
strings regularly will help keep your guitar sounding and playing its
best. If you're not familiar with basic adjustments for your instrument,
take it to a qualified repair shop. A proper set-up can make a good
guitar sound and play great.
These are just a few of the topics we'll discuss in this section on basic guitar maintenance. As always, if you have any questions, please ask!