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Our Guitar Luthier Provides His Top Tips for Guitar Care and Maintenance

By Rick LeFever

Taking care of your guitar is not difficult, but it does require some special attention and care. By following these simple tips, you can keep your instrument looking and sounding great for years to come!

We look forward to taking care of you and your guitar. Give us a call at 301-662-8822 to book your appointment.

Addressing the Storage Environment

First and foremost, I must stress that all guitars are made of natural wood—even plywood—are living, breathing, things. When its humid they absorb moisture, gaining mass in the process. When it’s dry, they lose moisture and can shrink a bit.

The best policy is to store your instrument in an environment where you, yourself are comfortable. Not too hot, not too cold, and not excessively moist or dry for the greatest stability of the instrument.

In its case is preferred, but if stored in the open, a relatively controlled environment is needed. A humidifier or dehumidifier may be needed.

How to Properly Clean Your Guitar

Use only guitar cleaner or a polish made specifically for instruments. DO NOT USE pledge or furniture polishes. Solvents in those may damage the finish!

For rosewood and ebony fingerboards and bridges, a light amount of oil should be rubbed in with fingers, cloth, or an extra fine Scotch-Brite pad. (To clean dirt, and residue out of wood pores and prevent the wood from drying out. Oiled wood sounds and looks better than dry wood.)

Anytime you are changing the strings is a perfect time to clean, oil, (as needed), and polish frets, hardware, etc. All guitars that reach my bench are given these treatments.

Caring for the Strings and Stringing of the Guitar

For the best, liveliest sound, fresh strings are a must on electrics, acoustics, basses, and every other stringed instrument. Strings that are corroded, rusty, or severely worn out should be changed to allow the true character of the instrument to shine.

Choose strings that are the same gauge as you are replacing, otherwise, the guitar will need to be adjusted for that gauge and tension. Proper wrapping of the strings on the pegs is critical.

Before stringing your own guitar, take some time to research this method of installing strings without ruining them. We are happy to explain the dos and don’ts in this regard. Keep in mind the strings exert hundreds of pounds of pressure on the neck and overall structure. This can be counterbalanced with the truss rod (in the neck) adjustment and or bridge adjustment. When coupled with the height of the strings, called “the action” is properly set the result is a good set-up. We can tailor the choice of strings, gauges, and tolerances to the player's musical preferences. 

As a rule of thumb, most instruments require seasonal setups. When the air gets warmer and more humid in the spring, and when cool, dry nights turn into winter is a good time to get your instrument set up. However, every instrument is unique- some need more frequent TLC, and others are more stable.


Taking proper care of your guitar includes ensuring a comfortable environment, cleaning it with guitar cleaner regularly, and ensuring the strings are like new. We would love to take care of your electric, acoustic, bass, or vintage stringed instrument. Call us at 301-662-8822 for availability.