Electric guitars require careful handling, love and attention. Neglecting your electric guitar will give you unwanted intonation, playability and buzzing problems, even worse are structural problems that often cost an arm and a leg to repair.
And since we don't want any of that, here are some practical electric guitar
care tips to help you enjoy the company of your instrument better.
A Place To Call Home
Your electric guitar needs a sturdy and cozy place to call home. Out of all the maintenance equipment that you need, this could be the most expensive - and rightly so because it will keep your guitar safe from harmful elements like impact, humidity, stress and heat. Having a good matching guitar hard case will save your guitar from unnecessary damage, and in the long run will also save you from spending on expensive repairs. Guitars usually ship with a good hard case, if not make it your first priority. I would dare say that you don't take a new guitar home until you have enough money to buy both the guitar and its matching case.
Getting To Know Each Other
Unlike acoustic guitars, electric guitars have more components that you have to check and set up correctly, and you won't be able to do that if you don't get to know your instrument better. It is best if you regularly check intonation, because the earlier you spot issues, the easier it is to solve them. Just get a chromatic tuner and check every fret of every string for intonation issues and adjust the tuners or bridge saddles accordingly. You also need to check if your string is at your preferred height and action, and do some minor adjustments to find the right string height. Guitars with floating tremolo's require more patience and knowledge to setup properly so better be prepared if you want the ability to dive bomb. If simple adjustments do not work or if you see any warping on the wood, it is best to take your guitar to your local luthier or guitar repair shop to avoid further damage.
Electric guitars are sturdy enough to handle bursts of aggressive playing, but just like acoustic guitars they don't like stress. If exposed to unwanted stress, your guitar will have a barrage of problems like a warped neck, intonation issues and the dreaded fret buzz. To avoid this, you have to use strings with gauges that do not surpass what the manufacturer recommends. Installing the string properly and finding the right right tension is also important, utilities like String Stretcha can help out in cases like this. Also don't put unnecessary pressure on the neck, and don't let your guitar lean on anything without a sturdy neck support. Finally don't forget to place your guitar back to its guitar case when playtime is over.
A Little TLC
If you don't want your precious guitar to have dents and scratches, then you should handle it carefully. When playing on stage, ensure that you're cables are all properly tucked away and that you have a clutter free stage. Since guitars have sensitive electronics, you also don't want your guitar getting spilled on by any type of liquid. During breaks or after your gig, leave your guitar by the stand or better yet, place it on its case, just remember to never bring "her" to the table. The good news is, with the relic hype that is going on, many guitarists seem to equate superficial damage like small dents, paint chips and scratches as beautiful "relic" art. Still, it is better to avoid any damage that can affect playability and tone.
Regularly cleaning your electric guitar is a no brainer. It maybe simple and easy to do but this small gesture goes along way by extending the life of your strings and instrument. All you need is a microfiber cloth that you can use to wipe on the body and strings. You can also use specialized cleaning tools for guitars like Rotosound's string cleaner which makes it even more convenient. All you have to do is aim for the dust and grime build up and wipe away. A clean guitar is simply great to look at and the strings will vibrate better too. Don't forget to have it cleaned every time you use it.
Weather You Like It Or Not
Although not as sensitive as acoustic guitars, it is better to be safe than sorry - you ought to be aware of extreme humidity changes that might affect or damage your electric guitar. Low humidity poses the greatest threat because the dry air tends to absorb the water in the wood - forcing it to shrink and causing breaks and warps. High humidity on the other hand expands the wood on your guitar making it susceptible to cracks. If you live in areas where extreme weather changes are more common, it is imperative that you get your guitar a humidifier/de-humidifier. When using your guitar in a place where there are big weather differences, you should let your guitar gradually adapt to the current weather while rested in its case.
Regular Check Up
Aside from doing minor maintenance on your electric guitar, it will be in your best interest to take your electric guitar to a reputable luthier or guitar technician every once in a while. Even more so when you notice changes in string height, playability and if you see wood and electronics related problems. Professional guitar techs can properly set up your guitar intonation, action and remove unwanted fretbuzz. They can also inspect and repair your electronics including your pickup, wiring, pots and switches. They can also have your guitar refretted in case your frets are worn out. You will be pleasantly surprised how much of an improvement a professionally setup guitar can add to your tone and playing experience.These simple reminders will help you avoid problems that prevent you from having fun with your beloved electric guitar.