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       Care Tips For Your Acoustic Guitar

                       by Gerald Sheppard



I have often been surprised at how little information is available to help guitarists keep their instruments maintained.  All acoustic instruments require care and periodic maintenance.  I hope you find the tips below helpful:

  • Keep your instrument in its case when you are not playing it.  This ensures protection from heat, humidity and bumps.

  • Never leave your instrument in an unlatched case. It may fall out when you or someone else picks it up.

  • Do not play your guitar at temperature or humidity extremes.  Caroling in winter in cold low humidity or playing at picnics in hot high humidity often have heart breaking results. Do not leave your guitar in a hot or cold car, even if it is in its case. These extremes will cause damage such as cracked wood or finish checks (cracking) and are not warranted by manufacturers.

  • Use a reputable polish to clean your instrument from time to time.  Do not use wax.  When it is clean the finish of your guitar is shinier than wax.  Avoid cleaners and polishes that incorporate silicone compounds.  They will damage the finish.  Keep the polish off your fingerboard and bridge. Those parts are not finished.  A light coat of lemon oil applied with a cotton cloth will enhance the beauty of the fingerboard and bridge.  Do not put lemon oil on finished surfaces.

  • Use a soft cotton cloth to wipe down the strings and body after you play.  This will increase the life of your strings and keep your finish clean.

  • Belt buckles and blue-jean rivets will scratch the back of your instrument. 

  • Modifications such as adding pick-ups should only be done by reputable guitar shops.  Do not attempt them yourself, as you may void your warranty. 

  • Never let your instrument get wet.

  • Before changing strings look inside guitar to find the recommended string gauge. Do not use a heavier gauge than is recommended. Lighter-than-recommended string gauges will not likely hurt the instrument but they may affect the playability and tone.  Specialty strings sometimes put excessive tension on your instrument. These strings may void your warranty. 

  • Change strings often. A cheap guitar with new strings will often sound better than an excellent guitar with old strings.

  • Never tune strings above standard pitch.

  • It’s not necessary to lower the pitch of strings when storing your guitar for a short time. You might consider lowering the pitch a step or two if you are storing it through a season change.

  • Use care when removing the guitar from its case.  Case latches and flanges can damage the finish.

  • A quality guitar is, in some ways, like fine furniture. There’s the form vs. the function. The beauty and the usability. Wood and glue. Fine lines and finish work. Furniture is occasionally under stress when the drawers are full, but it’s heavy thick wood that usually just sits.  Conversely, some of the guitar's body parts are less than 1/10" thick, supported by thin braces about the size of kite sticks. The strings put it under constant stress that is equivalent to the weight of a man standing on it. They are carried around sometimes daily from one environment to another.  They deserve our respect.  They work hard. Treat’em like an old friend!

Copyright © 1997 by Sheppard Guitars™

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