Being a good guitarist isn’t just down to playing the right chords – it’s about looking after your guitar and caring for it. Guitars are sensitive instruments, and should be properly cared for to keep them both sounding and looking at their best. There are some simple things that we can all do to ensure we look after our guitars in the best way.
TEMPERATURE & HUMIDITY
Guitars are made out of wood and wood is a natural material. This means it can be affected by temperature and humidity (the amount of water vapor in the air). Both of these elements can affect the sound and quality of a guitar. If there is too much moisture in the air, guitars can swell – and if there is too little, this can cause the guitar to shrink and crack. Also, really warm temperatures can weaken glue, while the cold can cause the finish to crack. The best thing to do is to store your guitar somewhere like a cupboard, wardrobe, or in a corner of your room away from any direct heat sources, like a radiator.
After using a guitar we can leave sweat, dirt and grease all over them. Over time, this can affect the look of the guitars. To keep our guitars looking at their best we should regularly clean them to remove this dirt and grease. For a quick clean you can use warm water and a cloth, and dry it off as soon as you have cleaned it. If it needs a really good clean, make sure you help your kid out: you will need to use some chemicals which should not be used by children.
Guitars need regular check-ups to make sure everything is still in full working order. Help your kids to check their guitars every couple of months to ensure all screws are tight and that nothing has become loose or damaged. When changing strings, you can prolong their life by using a normal pencil and running it in the grooves of the nut (the white piece of plastic where the strings sit at the bottom and top of the guitar) before attaching strings. This helps lubricate the strings, and reduces the chances of them snapping while playing.
Guitars are at their most vulnerable when they are being moved around. By using a properly designed carry case you can protect your guitar and reduce the chances of any harm. For the Loog Guitar, there are specially-designed bags which perfectly fit the guitar, making it easy to carry around, whether it’s to a friend’s house, or on a world tour. These bags are available in both Canvas and Denim.
Some notes abour cleaning guitars
When cleaning the body of a guitar the best thing to use is a very small high quality Methylated Spirits on a small rag or a piece of cotton wool. Meths are great at degreasing, cleaning, leave no residue on the surface, and any smells disperse quickly. But, some things are just not for kids! Meths are poisonous, so make sure you keep them out of reach of children. Only use a small amount, and wipe clean after use. Clean the neck of the guitar, and other pieces of unprotected wood with a lemon oil, as this will clean and nourish the wood. Again – do not overuse the oil, but use it sparingly. If you are repairing or refinishing any guitar always ensure products are suitable for use on guitars, as some are domestic and would not be ideal, and could damage the guitar.
This article was written by Merv Jones at Wood Finishes Direct, who stock a range of products suitable for cleaning, repairing and re-finishing guitars. Merv has been playing, repairing and re-finishing guitars for more than 30 years, and has built up a wealth of knowledge in this time. He’s also pretty cool for writing this for us – thanks Merv!