Taking Care Of Your Guitar. Part 1

This lesson will teach you how to extend life of your guitar. Read on some useful tips.

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Options For Storing Your Guitar

Storing Your Guitar

There are three primary ways you can store your guitar: bag, stand, or case. The pros and cons of each one are noted below.
  • Bag.

    Pros: the bag reigns supreme in terms of pricing, simplicity, and versatility. Its biggest advantage is its mobility; many bags have straps so that you can wear it like a backpack, and all are light in weight so that they are easy to move around.

    Cons: not necessarily the safest way of transporting a guitar, and high end guitars -- those priced at $700 and up -- should be seen sparingly if at all in bags.

  • Stand.

    Pros: for those interested in making the guitar serve a secondary purpose as a home decoration, the stand is generally regarded as the most fashionable method of publicly displaying your guitar. Placing the guitar on a stand can also be more convenient, as the other alternatives -- bags and cases -- require guitarists to open zippers and locks to access the instrument.

    Cons: the stand leaves your guitar unprotected from the natural environment, so it is more susceptible to any dust and dirt that may be in the open area. Moreover, many high end guitars are extremely sensitive to temperature and humidity, and hence cannot be stored publicly.

  • Case.

    Pros: the case is by far the most protective means of storing your guitar. As a result, if you spent a fair amount of money on your guitar or if your guitar has a substantial amount of sentimental value, it would be wise to store your guitar in a case.

    Cons: cases are by far the priciest option for storing your guitar; many cases are several hundred dollars, making them more expensive than a wide range of guitars. The cost barrier may make it a questionable purchase for many students -- especially if the guitar itself is a low end or beginner guitar.

    Learning To Replace Strings

    One of the tasks that you will need to do most often during your time spent playing guitar is a replacing of the strings. Strings often get worn out as they get used; dirt and sweat from your hands transfers to the string, causing small amounts of rust to accumulate and dirt to build up. The result is that the sound the strings produce will deterioriate -- it will lose resonanace -- and will go out of tune more frequently as well.

    The video below is a really nice breakdown of how to change strings.











    Below is a step by step process for how you can go about replacing your strings:

    1. Remove the nut at the bottom of the guitar's body

    The nut is what keeps the guitar string attached at the bottom. The nut is most easily removed through a string winder; simply insert the u-shaped end of the string winder into the nut, and lift from there. That is the process for acoustic guitars. For electric guitars, this step can be skipped; the string can be removed entirely from the head of the guitar. 

    2. Unwind the string

    Now that you have removed the string from the body, you must also remove it from the head. Simply identify the tuning knob associated with the string you are looking to remove, and wind it completely loose. You can do this manually or with the assistance of a string winder. 

    3. Insert the string

    You will notice the string has two ends: one end will have a small metal circle, while the other will just be a thin piece of metal. The end with the circle should be inserted into the body of the guitar; the remainder of the string should be pulled across the fretboard and inserted into the corresponding tuning knob. Regarding which string should be associated with which tuning knob, bear in mind the following.

    On a guitar where three tuning knobs are on one side and three are on the other, the side that is closest to the ceiling when you are holding the guitar correctly has the tuning knobs for the 4th, 5th, and 6th strings. The 6th string can be inserted into the tuning knob closet to you; the fifth goes in the middle; and the fourth goes into the furthest one. On the bottom side -- meaning the tuning knobs closest the ground when holding the guitar correctly -- the tuning knob most distant from you is for the 3rd string; the middle one corresponds to the 2nd string; and the nearest one is meant for the first string.

    If you are playing an electric guitar where the tuning knobs are all on one side, the knob closest to you is for the sixth string (low E), and progresses accordingly to the knob that is furthest from you which corresponds to the first string (high E).

    When you insert the string through the tuning knob, you may want to hold and pull the string several times, so as to "stretch" the string. This will decrease the frequency with which it goes out of tune as you play.

    4. Wind the string

    Finally, simply wind the tuning knob so that the string is tense. After the strings have all been replaced, you can use a tuner to determine exactly how tightly wound each string should be. One string at a time. It is best to replace one string at a time. Removing all the strings and then replacing them with six new ones can drastically alter the tension on the fretboard, and such a substantial alteration may cause long term damage to your guitar. While this is a rare occurrence, it is best to replace one string at a time so as to prevent the possibility of such damage occurring.

    How often should you replace your strings?

    How often strings should be changed depends on how often you play, and how important quality of sound is to you when you play. Assuming an hour a day everyday, you would probably want to change your strings every 4-6 weeks. Professional guitarists who perform daily often change their strings several times a week, or even on a daily basis. This ensures that their strings have the freshest possible sound -- which is especially important for them, since they are performing in front of a live audience or recording in a studio.

    The types of strings you buy can also substantially affect the longevity of your strings. Nanoweb coated strings, while priced substantially higher than the rest of the strings, are capable of lasting an exceptionally long time. Amateur guitarists using nanoweb coated strings may find that they last 12 weeks or more.

    Taking Care Of Your Fretboard

    As the part of your guitar likely to accumulate the most sweat and dirt, the fretboard requires special care. A fretboard that is maintained well will prove to be noticeably easier to play, will feel more comfortable, and will look sharper from a visual perspective.

    Polishing your fretboard.
    The best way to take care of your fretboard is to periodically polish it. Many guitarists find it convenient to polish their fretboard when they replace strings. To polish your fretboard, you will need two items: (1) guitar polish and (2) a cloth.

    Once you have your polish and cloth, you just need to follow these simple instructions:

    1. Polish the guitar thoroughly up and down the fretboard.
    2. Allow the polish to rest on the guitar for about 15-20 seconds.
    3. Taking your cloth, thoroughly massage the polish into the fretboard by wiping it up and down.
    4. You are now ready to use your newly polished guitar. You will notice that it is easier to play, and that it looks nicer as well.

    Click here to view the video clip below that illustrates polish being applied. And this video clip illustrates how a cloth can be used after the polish has been applied and allowed to rest.

    ActoGuitar's purpose is to help people learn to play guitar, and to help experienced guitarists with professional ambitions reach their aspirations. Be sure to check out ActoGuitar website at this location.

    To be continued...

59 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    XNeo```
    Well, thx for spending the time writing these tips, but i think most of the people who care about their guitar know how to maintain it.
    \KALEN/
    Metal_Ibanez_89 wrote: The stand con is false. Your guitar will not get damaged. However if you have it by a wall that is by the outside, than thats where it can warp your neck. If you have your guitar by a wall where on the other side there's a room or inside the house, you will be fine. Dust is not going to harm it.
    your better off storing your guitar in a case because your house changes in temperature and humitity that can cause the wood to swell and contract, after a while when you play you will start to hear a buzz. the only drawback of a case is that it can gostle your guitar a bit and put it out of tune slightly and for your strings, they will last longer if you wash your hands before playing, they will get less dirty cause you are removing some of the sweat and oils off your hands. you can also get string cleaner...
    The Knox
    Wow, this is great, it includes pictures and everything... 5 stars, it helped me out.
    ch3z-zY
    this really helps me...before i was too ignorant on replacing my strings...by the way..can i just use ordinary wood polish,like lysol maybe?
    Metal_Ibanez_89
    The stand con is false. Your guitar will not get damaged. However if you have it by a wall that is by the outside, than thats where it can warp your neck. If you have your guitar by a wall where on the other side there's a room or inside the house, you will be fine. Dust is not going to harm it.
    Carvinlover
    I store mine on a fret rest wall hanger, if you leave it plume it keeps the neck straight even with tempiture change. and keeps it a away from dusty carpet.
    rockinrolo
    I keep mine on a rubber stand and the guitar rests on its back rather then its neck so it doesnt bend. I already new all of that stuff but its good to hear it from someone. 5 stars
    bassmasta123
    hey plz visit my website on bass cheers www.howtoplaybass.co.uk I will be updating it all the time
    Sicking
    Was looking this trough to see if I was taking care of my guitar well and I did almost everything it said here but never knew that removing all the strings would alter my bridge tension that badly. Thanks to this lesson I fixed my problem =].
    deckerbastard69
    Sanitarium91 wrote: This is a really helpful article, I didn't know that strings were supposed be changed so often. I've had my strings since the beginning (over 1.5 years!), but I've always known they were suppose be changed more often than that, but man i've had 'em for a long time. Still, believe me or not but someone told me a few weeks ago that I've got a great sound on my guitar. I'm still not gonna change my strings as often as u said they're supposed to... maybe earlier than every 1.5 years. heheh
    hahaha unless you dont play your guitar every day like i do they will snap long before that
    \KALEN/
    Metal_Ibanez_89 wrote: The stand con is false. Your guitar will not get damaged. However if you have it by a wall that is by the outside, than thats where it can warp your neck. If you have your guitar by a wall where on the other side there's a room or inside the house, you will be fine. Dust is not going to harm it.
    keeping your guitar in a case or bag is better than a stand. not only does some stands bend the neck of a guitar but the guitar being open to the elements of your house is not good. your house changes temperature and humidity which will cause the wood of your guitar to swell and contract. it will cause a buzz when you play. also for your strings, you can clean them with string cleaner. washing your hands before you play can help to reduce them from getting dirty in the first place. if you do that then your strings will last longer. i replace my strings very infrequently and they have never snapped on me, and i do play every day.
    Myrdinn
    Agreed guitar polish is a NO NO on the fretboard. It's made for the guitar body. For the fretboard,a soft cloth and very small dabs of lemon oil rubbed in well. Just make sure its a thin layer else the frets will get gunked up.
    newguitarperson
    Good tips i really didn't know about how to change the strings and as far as how often lol i learned the hard way they snapped on me i play for about three four hours a day finally one day they just snapped
    retka
    Great tips! Even though I have been playing over a year, I often forget the proper method to do this kind of maintenance. As I do not want to damage my guitar, I find myself always looking over this kind of information as to benefit my awesome Evil Edge Mockingbird SE!. Also.....for those that said that this information was already known and was meant for beginners.....ITS IN TEH BEGINNERS SECTION so if you already know this information then do not go to the beginner section!!! Common sense.
    JayKay12
    Great lesson. I usually change my guitar strings only when they break, and sometimes that's about a few months. Should I change them more often?
    x_XIcyReverie
    I thought this was pretty good, although most players probably already know all this, but newbies need help too I personally am a beginner (started playing Christmas 2009), but my family are like pro's at guitar/bass so I know a bit good guide though, I didn't know about the importance of polishing the fretboard.
    tbkh2
    I had never thought of polishing my guitar before I read this. I'll give it a try when I change strings. Great lesson by the way, keep it up
    mazdar
    Err.. so I guess the polih is a no no? ?.? now i'm really confused.. someone help me?
    tazer5000
    unless those people just got a guitar that they care about and then have to learn how to take care of it ... Great article bro... Thanks
    Sanitarium91
    This is a really helpful article, I didn't know that strings were supposed be changed so often. I've had my strings since the beginning (over 1.5 years!), but I've always known they were suppose be changed more often than that, but man i've had 'em for a long time. Still, believe me or not but someone told me a few weeks ago that I've got a great sound on my guitar. I'm still not gonna change my strings as often as u said they're supposed to... maybe earlier than every 1.5 years. heheh
    sg-knight
    great article, brilliantly backed up/researched. i say more articles with this level of backup material/videos. 5 stars!
    Dark-Light1989
    good artical. but i imagine most people already know it. but it can prove quite useful to new guitarists
    bwillis1632
    I already knew the basics of this lesson, but for someone who has no experience, I would agree have to agree with "sg-knight" 5 STARS!!
    roche_dur
    that was great. im just learning to play my guitar, and that was really helpful.
    fabiete
    I knew how to change the chords, but no idea about the importance of cleaning the fretboard..
    9_11_4
    great for beginners.. except if they wanted to print it out.. u cant print videos.. lol well written.. just like you'd explain to someone with a new guitar.. I tend to use mr sheen (or similar products) to polish and clean.. i've been told be countless people its just as good if not better than polish and cheaper too (im a cheapskate)
    Yero
    Thanks bro. New guitarist here, I appreciate the breakdown!
    Billie236
    where it says remove the nut from the bottom of your guitar that's wrong because that's actually a peg but anyways good lesson sure helped me
    iteachguitar
    Wow...I cannot believe that this article tells you to spray guitar polish on your fretboard. That is a BIG NO NO!!! Most guitar polish will ruin your fretboard. Whoever reads this...DO NOT put guitar polish on your fretboard . Go to a Luthier webpage or forum and ask any Luthier...they will tell you DO NOT DO IT!!!
    Billie236
    I'd rather cange my strings every 6 months or so is there a lesson same as this but on an electric guitar??? anyone?
    simonzwaan
    meh pretty good except that first video sucks because he doesn't explain it right
    kn4ck3r
    Assuming an hour a day everyday, you would probably want to change your strings every 4-6 weeks. Professional guitarists who perform daily often change their strings several times a week, or even on a daily basis.
    Well, Eric Clapton only change strings when they break; so as they say, there's an exception to every "rule"...