I am sure that almost all of the UG community owns at least one electric guitar. This article will explain how to look after your instrument and keep it in shop bought condition!
Some people may ask why they should bother keeping their instrument pristine. It is true you do not have to. Some players love the feel of a worn neck, or the look of a destroyed finish, others find it repulsive and annoying. It really is all up to you. Personally, chipped and damaged guitars annoy me, so I like to keep my pristine. Also, when selling a guitar, it looks best and will fetch more money if in good condition.
If your guitar has a maple fretboard, it should have been finished, so it requires very little extra maintenance. Wipe it down after you play with a microfibre cloth or a special cleaning cloth, making sure you are thorough and the cloth is not scratchy or dirty. If the fretboard is rosewood or ebony, it will need to be 'conditioned' with Lemon Oil. simply apply a small drop of lemon oil on each fret and rub it into the wood thoroughly. Remember that as the frets get higher, they also become smaller, so you will need less oil on the high frets. When wear marks begin to show on the wood in common places you play, you know it is time to oil the fretboard.
The guitars neck is the part of the guitar which most affects the feel. Try at all costs not to chip the neck, as this can be really annoying when you have to play fast and slide up and down the neck. Wipe it down after playing with a cloth (again make sure it is not scratchy) and make sure you clear off sweat. In the finishes section below I will briefly mention any special things that need to be done for certain finishes.
Similarly to the neck, try not to chip the body and wipe it down after you play. Many players like to use a polish. Make sure you get the correct polish for your guitars finish (finish information can usually be acquired on the company's website) or better, the company's own brand polish. Apply this with the same unscratchy cloth.
The guitar's hardware may become rusted or stained after use. When you change strings, check the hardware thoroughly for rust and staining and wipe it off. This is particularly common on metal pickup covers.
You need to make sure you know what finish your guitar has! Do not just guess, as that could result in you completely destroying your guitars finish! Some finishes, such as Polyurethane(common on Fender guitars), are very durable and require little extra care. Others, like Nitrocellulose (like on a Gibson), are damaged by rubber. If you leave your guitar on a stand make sure it is Nitrocellulose safe (such as stands made by Hercules) or that you wrap a sock or tissues over the rubber before placing your guitar on the stand. Make sure this does not affect the stability of the stand!
Fairly self explanatory. Should be changed fairly often, depending on the brand and the acidity of your sweat. When your strings rust, you should change them
Your guitar has to be stored safely to avoid chips and bashes. Make sure it is not just left lying around. You have 2 options when storing your guitar:
many higher end guitars come with a hardcase. If they do not, I would reccomend buying one. Good for transport and storage. The safest way to store your instrument. Try and get a case which is a snug fit, as opposed to one which will fit any guitar, as this will prevent the guitar from sliding around and bashing against the sides of the case. A case is not a gig bag, and it should be noted that no gig bag, no matter how padded, will ever be as durable as a case.
As I mentioned above, make sure your stand is secure around the guitar and be certain it will not damage the finish. If the stand is a wall hanger, then be sure the guitar is in place before letting go. If it falls, it will be chipped or even break completely! Check all the specs of a stand and make sure it will fit your guitar before buying it!
Thank you for reading. Please rate and comment so I can make my next article better!