How to maintain your guitar and care for it

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The acoustic guitar is a rather simple instrument (though a lot of physics went into building it), and requires a very simple regimen to keep it singing for long. If you (are able to) do the following, suffice it to say that there won’t be any SOSs sent out, no frantic runs to the ER. But the operative word here is ‘IF’!!!

So simple are the pointers that oftentimes we tend to skip these simple steps and get straight into playing the instrument. Curb those instincts and follow the maintenance routine religiously.


What you will need:

  • Old denim
  • Old PURE cotton t-shirt(s)
  • A small jar of petroleum jelly
  • Some hot water
  • A soft make-up brush
  • Paper towels/tissues


The procedure:

If you have never properly cleaned your guitar, the first time is going to be a little time-consuming and will require a little more effort. The following are the steps to be taken in that situation. In any case, this should be your Sunday routine.

  • Take the fan brush (make-up brush) and dust areas that you can’t reach with your hands and fingers – under the strings before the bridge and at the headstock. This particular brush design is best suited for dusting.
  • Take a piece of the old, soft, cotton t-shirt moisten it with hot water. Wring dry. With the rag barely moist, wipe down the entire body of the guitar, paying special attention to areas that come in contact with the body. Once you think you are done, take a look at all surfaces of the instrument against light. Areas that you missed, or those that need more attention will show up. Go at them again until you are satisfied.
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  • The tissues/paper towels are for particularly obstinate areas. Wet the towel and leave it on the spot for 30 seconds. Go at it with your dry t-shirt again.
  • Take another – larger – piece of an old, soft, cotton t-shirt, wipe the guitar dry completely to a light shine.
  • Loosen all strings. Take a bit of petroleum jelly and dab it onto a piece of old soft denim – just a pinch. Pinch each string so that the jelly comes in contact with the string. Run the pinch down the entire length of the string, paying greater attention to the thicker, wound strings. For each string take a different portion of the cloth so that you can clean the strings better.
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  • Finally, take a clean, dry corner of the denim and wipe off whatever jelly you may have left off on any of the strings. Looking at the pieces of denim, you will realise how dirty those strings were, and when you play them, they may even surprise you with their brightness.


The daily routine BEFORE you start playing:

  • Take an old, soft, cotton t-shirt and wipe the guitar properly: especially those areas that come in contact with the skin the most.
  • Loosen strings and take a piece of denim and wipe each string clean. While you are at it, also clean the fretboard, giving it a rub at each fret under the strings.
  • Wipe each tuning machine properly, lifting off dust, grime and fingerprints.
  • Still holding the tuning machines with a soft cloth, tune guitar to pitch and have fun.


The daily routine AFTER you finish playing:

Repeat the BEFORE routine.

Amit Newton

An experienced guitar tech with over 10 years of experience working on acoustic Gibsons and Martins in the Gulf region. There is nothing that cannot be repaired; the only consideration is the price at which it comes. And yet, if there is sentiment attached, no price is too high! WhatsApp/Call me: 7080475556 email me:

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