How to Care for an Acoustic Guitar

Maybe you’re starting to learn to play the guitar yourself, or maybe one of your kids has decided to pick up the guitar. Either way, you’re learning quickly that there are costs involved with playing this beautiful instrument. Beginner guitars cost anywhere from $100-$500, while decent guitars can cost well over $500. In addition to those costs, there are costs associated with picks, guitar tutors, and sheet music. With all that money sunk into playing the guitar, it’s important to make sure you take care of the equipment that you have, starting with the guitar itself. This guide will help you learn how to care for a guitar.

Store it Safely

The first step to caring for your guitar is making sure you store it safely. Guitars are made of wood, which means that they’re affected by things like heat and water. At a minimum, you’ll want to store your guitar indoors in a cool, dry location. While it can be tempting to store your guitar in the basement, if your basement ever floods or gets humid, this isn’t a good choice. The wood can warp if it gets wet. That’s why you see many serious guitar players storing their guitars in a corner of their bedroom or on hooks on their walls. It’s also important to consider how you’re storing your guitar when you’re traveling. Guitars don’t do well in the trunks of cars because trunks are rarely temperature regulated. Instead, it’s better to keep your guitar in the backseat of your car so that it doesn’t get too hot or too cold during your travels.

Clean It Gently

Most guitars have a lacquer finish on the outsides. While this finish is there to protect the guitar from the elements, it also means that you have to be particular about how you clean your guitar. The best way to clean your guitar is to use a warm, damp cloth to dust and the oils from your skin off of it. Don’t use harsh chemicals, which can ruin your guitar’s finish. Some companies make special polishes specifically for guitars, which can be used to improve your guitar’s finish if a long time has passed.

Pay Attention to Strings

Your guitar comes with strings installed, and typically these strings are the best ones for your guitar. Gently wiping the strings after use will keep your hand’s oils off of them and help them lead their longest possible life. However, no strings will last forever. The oils in your skin will eventually break down these strings, and overtightening a string can cause it to snap. If one string on your guitar goes, it’s best to repair the entire set of strings to ensure an even sound over time.

Maintenance Over Time

As your guitar ages, pieces of it will move and sound quality will decrease. That means that it’s important to bring your guitar in for regular maintenance over time so that things like the bridge and saddle can be adjusted by qualified repairmen. Repairmen can also adjust the neck of the guitar to ensure it’s properly aligned.

Tuning Your Guitar

One of the first things you should learn when starting to play the guitar is how to use a tuning machine to tune it appropriately. Always be gentle when tuning your guitar, tightening and loosening strings a little bit at a time. Tightening a string too much can cause it to snap, so you want to be sure to go a little bit at a time.

While a lot of work goes into guitar maintenance, it’s well worth the effort. A good guitar that’s being properly maintained can last for years. Many famous musicians still have their first guitars. Keep in mind that acoustic guitars are maintained differently than electric guitars, which may have more metal than wood in them. As with any piece of equipment, the most important aspect of maintaining your acoustic guitar is having respect for it and taking care when using it.