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Video:Basic Guitar Maintenance and Care

with Jon Seideman

Caring for your guitar properly will keep it in top form for years to come. See how to clean, maintain, and care for your guitar.See Transcript

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Transcript:Basic Guitar Maintenance and Care

Hi - I'm Jon Seidman with About.com, and we're going to go through some guitar-care basics.

Cleaning a Guitar

After you're done playing your guitar, it's a good idea to clean it off before putting it away. I usually use a soft cloth and wipe down the strings - the oils from your fingers and some of the natural oxidation of the strings can be removed by wiping with a soft cloth. It's also a good idea to get the back of the neck and pretty much all surfaces of the guitar.

Guitar Cleaning Products

You can purchase at your local guitar store any number of cleaning products that can help maintain the finish on the guitar. Over time, because of the stress on the neck, and the stress on the bridge, the strings pulling, the wood here - if it gets dried, or if the finish is compromised in any way - you can start to get stress cracks through the guitar, and once they form there's not a lot you can do about them. So, periodically using a wax finish can keep the guitar finish properly maintained and will prevent these types of stress cracks from forming.

Use a Guitar Case or Stand

Many acoustic guitars come with a hard case that is custom-made to fit the guitar so it can withstand any impact. But, a soft case is sometimes a cheaper way to go, and some of the more inexpensive guitars only come with a soft case or no case at all. A soft case will do fine but you'll have to be more aware of impact. You can't, maybe, check it in on an airplane or load it on a bus or something like that - you'll have to be more careful.

If you don't have a case, a good investment is a guitar stand - they're relatively inexpensive and it's actually good to store the guitar upright. It preserves the neck - it prevents the neck from warping over time.

Guitar String Maintenance

You'll notice after playing the guitar for awhile that the strings will become dull sounding and also dull-looking. New strings look very bright and shiny - these strings are relatively new, but natural oxidation of the metal in the strings will cause a patina to form on the strings. The strings won't necessarily break, but they won't sound very good, and they might not feel very good underneath your fingers. Your fingers won't slide over them very easily.

It's important to know when you change your strings that you're changing the tension on the neck. With all six strings tightened to the correct tones, there's a certain tension on the neck, and the neck is built to withstand a certain tension. So it's important not to very suddenly cut all the strings at once and replace them. You want to be very careful when you're changing tension on the neck, and try to minimize that by loosening the strings gradually and changing them one at a time.

Guitar Care Recap

So, keep in mind the basics are: after each use, wipe down with a soft cloth. Periodically use a guitar finish or wax. Change your strings often and be careful when you're changing strings. And when you're storing your guitar - not in use - you want to use a nice hard case or guitar stand. And that's all there is to it.

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