Caring for one's guitar is an important aspect of maintaining the proper functioning, aesthetic appeal, and value of one's instrument. Unfortunately this facet is often neglected by musicians, who tend to focus on other, less practical things. A guitar player who is interested in maintaining the value of his or her instrument, should consider these helpful tips:
The first and perhaps most important aspect of caring for and properly maintaining one's instrument is to keep it well protected when it is not being used. This requires, at minimum, buying a guitar case, for those who do not already have one, and making sure one always puts his or her guitar away when it is not in use.
Another important aspect of properly caring for one's instrument is to protect the instrument from the elements and, particularly, from changing temperatures and dry air. Dry air and changes in temperature are the quickest way to warp the delicate fragile wood that your guitar is made of. The effects of this warping can be subtle, but can affect the intonation of the fingerboard - sometimes in ways that cannot be undone. Therefore, guitar players should never leave their instrument in hot cars during the summer or out in the cold during the winter time. Best practices include having a humidifier in the room where your instrument is stored. Another thing one can do to keep the proper moisture in the air where one's guitar is stored is to put a damp sponge anywhere in the guitar case. Where appropriate, one can put the sponge in a container with small holes poked into the lid. This will help ensure the instrument always has proper moisture.
A third important aspect of maintaining one's instrument is to change one's strings regularly. This will have the most noticeable effect on the actual sound of the guitar. People who play their instrument on a regular basis should change their strings at least every two to three months, depending on the regularity of use.
Finally, one should always strive to keep the neck of one's instrument free of dirt buildup and grime by regularly cleaning one's guitar neck. Fingerboards need to be cleaned regularly in order to prevent excess dirt and bacteria, which can damage the surface of one's guitar. One should, in theory, clean the frets and fingerboard at least every time the strings are changed. If one plays his or her instrument very often and, therefore, changes his or her guitar strings often, this rule may be overreaching.
If all of these rules of thumb are observed consistently, the functioning, aesthetic appeal, and value of one's instrument can be maintained for many years. Otherwise, the fate of one's guitar, like many musicians, will be 'blowing in the wind.'
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