One of the most important but overlooked aspects of guitar maintenance is the care and cleaning. Regular cleaning of your guitar is one of the most important ways you can maintain the finish and lengthen string life. The first thing that should be done after you finish playing is removing any perspiration from the instrument. This is done as perspiration can contain acids that can be corrosive to the strings and metal parts of the guitar.
Be aware that the following can affect the finish of your guitar;
Note products containing silicon should not be used to clean guitars.
In deciding what cleaning products best suit your instrument, use the cleaning products made specifically for your instrument care and/or recommended by the manufacturer.
Please be aware if your finish is cracked, crazed, chipped or bare wood is exposed. It is recommended that you do not rub any compounds or polishes into those areas as this could make any future repairs more difficult or impossible.
Oil Finishes (Warwick Thumb Basses, Ernie Ball/Musicman Guitar Necks)
To maintain an oil finish, regularly wipe down with a 100% cotton cloth. Depending on the type of oil (tongue oil), beeswax can be wiped over the oil finish to give it a protective coating and keep the surface looking clean. Be aware, however, that this alters the feel of the finish.
Nitrocellulose Lacquer Gloss Finish (Vintage Fenders, Gibson, C.F Martin)
Nitrocellulose Lacquer was developed in the 1930's. It was favoured by manufacturers such as Gibson and Martin. To maintain a nitro gloss finish wipe down the guitar with 100% cotton cloth. For grime build up use a warm damp 100% cotton cloth or a thin watery guitar polish available from guitar manufacturers.
Nitrocellulose Lacquer Low Sheen Finish (Maton Acoustic, Martin)
To maintain a nitro low sheen finish, wipe down the guitar with 100% cotton cloth. For grime build up use a warm damp 100% cotton cloth or a thin watery guitar polish available from guitar manufacturers.
Please Note: With regular playing use of a low sheen finish can develop glossy patches.
Modern Chemically Cured finishes (PRS, Ernie Ball/Musicman bodies, Ibanez, Modern Fenders)
Modern finishes such as these came to prominence in the 1970's. They are generally very durable. To maintain these types of finishes wipe down the guitar with 100% cotton cloth.
French Polish (Pre 1930's martins, Conde Hermanos, hand made classical guitars)
Although not commonly used, a French Polish finish is still preferred by individually hand crafted Spanish and classical guitars. To maintain a French polish finish, wipe down the guitar with 100% cotton cloth.
Protecting your guitar from the elements.
When your guitar is not being played it is being stored. It is essential to give your guitar the best storage environment possible.
Temperature and Humidity
It is essential to the life and wellbeing of the guitar that it is protected from the weather as much as possible. Do not leave your instrument in a hot car, direct sunlight, or any other area where temperatures are high. Avoid large changes in temperatures, for example your guitar has acclimatised to its environment, any sudden temperature change either higher or lower will most likely cause the wood to expand or contract. This can result is lifting of bridges, separating joints, buckling of soundboards, finish checking, and the playability of the instrument can be affected.
Care while travelling
If you are going to be travelling with your guitar you should make an effort to protect it. First and foremost a good firm fitting case should be used. The case should have the following features: