Today we'll go over the necessary practices to keep your guitar clean and neat – ruining your instrument by simply neglecting the basic maintenance doesn't sound fun at all, does it? Especially if it only takes minutes every week – you probably take longer brushing your teeth every morning!
Once you have purchased your new guitar, you'll want to keep it in tip-top order, and part of this is cleaning. Playing the guitar will get it dirty with sweat and dust – I really hope it's sweat, as keeping the instrument in the corner of your room collecting dust isn't the best practice to becoming a professional guitar player.
You can buy a special cleaning cloth from the music store, or you can use an old t-shirt that is 100% cotton. Just be sure you don't wipe it with any logo that is on a t-shirt as that can scratch the surface.
Some paper towels can also scratch it, especially if the surface is French polished or lacquered. If you must use a paper towel, get the non-woven shop towels that come on a roll.
They cost more than the others, but they don't scratch. Wipe over the whole of your guitar, paying particular attention to the area under the strings. Don't be afraid to push the cloth up there and give it a good rub, because this is where the dust accumulates.
Holding them firmly through the cloth and scrub the cloth up and down their length. This will remove any build-up of perspiration and skin cells.
If finger marks don't seem to come off, puff on them gently as you do to spectacles, to add a bit of moisture, and then rub vigorously.
You need to avoid getting any moisture into those tiny spaces on the surface of the guitar. Rub well with a dry cloth afterwards.
Changing to a clean cloth regularly will help, then you won't be rubbing the dirt on the cloth back in. You can also purchase commercial guitar cleaners of various kinds, and most of them are excellent products.
The creamy polishes are slightly abrasive, so if your guitar has a matte finish, they should not be used. If your guitar has a sticky residue on it from tape or stickers, you'll need to remove it with mineral spirits, or you can use lighter fluid (naphtha).
Neither of these will damage the finish, but you'll need to clean the solvent off with a damp cloth, so buff it with a clean cloth afterwards. Try not to smear it around the rest of the guitar when wiping.
If the dirt builds up on the fingerboard, it won't hurt to take the strings right off and scrub it with extra fine grade steel wool. Rub parallel to the frets and mind you don't catch the ends of them with the steel wool.
There's no need to wet it first. You can oil it sparingly once a year making sure to wipe it all off afterwards, but if the surface is cracked or damaged, don't use oil on it.
I bet you've learned a thing or two about guitar maintenance. It's not rocket science – everything is as straightforward as possible. The crucial thing is to do this regularly. While you can get away with cleaning your guitar every once in a blue moon, it'll give up soon. It's well worth your time to take a few minutes after a practice or jam session to clean everything up.
Here is a quick example of how thing should be done!
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