The "Basic Care Of Your Guitar" PartYour guitar should be treated with respect. I.e never lay it down, unless in the case/bag or on a padded workbench if you want to do some maintenance on it. But never ever lay it down on the ground when you don't play it or do maintenance on it. The best place for your guitar to be is A) In a case B) In a gig bag C) On a wall hanger D) On a floor stand. Every now and then, pick it up, check for damage and polish it. If you have an electric guitar, try loosening the strings a bit so you can remove the dust that most likely has gathered around the pickups. If you have an acoustic, loosen the strings and remove the dust by the bridge. You don't need to loosen them much, just enough to get a cloth underneath. Also prod the hardware to see if it's loose, and if it is, see if there's a screw you can tighten. If you have a strat-type of guitar, check the nut on the socket. It is probably loose, so tighten it, either just by your fingers (but it's gonna get loose again real soon) or with some pliers (don't tighten to hard, or you are gonna damage the nut). Now your guitar looks real nice and shiny. So let's move on to part 2.
Changing Strings - Help Me! What Do I Do?Calm down. Restringing guitars is not as hard as it may seem. It's actually really easy, when you know how. The thing to remember is: One at a time (when replacing all. If just one string has called it a day, then you don't have to replace all. I recommend you do, though, because one string snapping shows that this set of strings is getting tired). Do not take of all strings before you put on new, because the neck needs to have the tension provided by strings put on and in tune (almost in tune, at least). I start with the low E (6th string), mainly because it's at the top, and because, well, just because I like to do it this way. You might find it easier to start with high E (1st string), but I think it's all the same.
I Think My Guitar Looks A Bit Standard (Boring). What Can I Do With It?Well, there are a couple of things you can do. Go to your local guitar store, or look on the internet for spare parts. Replacing scratchplate or volume knobs are things almost everyone could do with their guitar. I have replaced the standard white knobs on my Strat with some chrome ones, similar to those used on bass guitars. It makes just a little nuance, but it makes it seem a "not stock"-guitar. The scratchplate can be a bit more complicated, since there are screws you have to unscrew, and you probably have to take off the pickups as well, but again, if you just simply notice how it is fastened to the scratchplate you will be very fine. If you are a talented artist (and now I mean "artist" as in painter), you can try to customize your axe by painting it with some paint that will stick on (I'm no painter, I have no clue what paint to use), or you can (as I have done) put on some stickers. Basically, to customize your axe, use your imagination. Almost everyting can be done with it. Do not try to reshape it, neither the body nor the neck nor the headstock, as this can mess up the sound coming from it. "My acoustic has a nice finish, however no scratchplate, and I play with a pick, what should I do" - Either you should go and learn fingerpicking or clenched fist strumming, or you could go to your local music store and ask for acoustic scratchplates. They most likely have some. I think the nicest scratchplates are the ones that are completely black, but this is a matter of your taste. Acoustic scratchplates have a protective sheet at the back that you remove, and then you put it on the guitar where you want it (align it with the soundhole), adhesive side down (obviously).
Protecting Your Instrument For TransportAt one point or another, if you are serious about playing the guitar, you need to go out of your house with your guitar. Just grabbing it by the neck and throw yourselves at the bike could damage your instrument seriously, especially if you like to do a bit BMX or FMX when you go around town, or if you like to drive out in the road in front of large trucks. So, what should you do then? You probably got a cheap bag with the guitar when you bought it, a bag that in most cases is nothing but a piece of woven nylon made into a guitar shaped bag. If you are lucky, it was a bit padded. So head down to your local guitar store and check prices for padded gigbags or even better, cases. Guitar cases have a hard shell that protect your instrument from damage, and I think cases are the best way of protecting your instrument. However, as a young 14 year old guitarist who is gonna ride your bike to band practise, a gigbag would be better, as most bags have straps so you can carry it as a backpack. I will recommend you to check out Ritter Bags, 500 series or better, as they are really good. They are well-padded, they are waterproof (or resistent, at least), and they have lots of pockets for you to put all your gadgets in (notes, cables, tuners, fx boards and pedals, extra strings, you-name-it), Also, they are one of few independent bag companies I've seen that make bags for odd-shaped guitars, like BC Rich or Gibson Explorers. Link to Ritter Bags.
The Ending Of The ArticleNow you've read some tipe on how to take care of your instrument. The most important piece of advice, however, is: Treat your guitar with respect. Treat it almost like a baby, but that doesn't mean you can't play searing solos or play your guitar while having it on your neck or whatever. Just be sure it doesn't fall into the floor or is exposed to hazards, like acid or mean stuff like that. And remember; when you are drinking and playing acoustic, the "one for me, one for the guitar *booze poured into soundhole here*" rule does not apply. Do not pour booze or beer into the soundhole of your guitar. Your guitar doesn't drink.