5 Top Tips for Electric Guitar Maintenance
Just like any quality instrument, your new electric guitar is a tool that will last you many years of enjoyment and creativity if cared for properly. Taking good care of your gear and observing a few general upkeep practices is the best way to extend the life of your instrument, plus your guitar will play and feel better.
Neglecting to clean and take care of your gear can cause all instruments to wither away into unplayable dust collectors. Putting some TLC and a little effort into general maintenance can save you the heart ache of having a guitar that feels awful to play as well as time and money in the long run
1. Take care of your strings!
The strings are probably the easiest thing to take care of on your guitar, and they are certainly the most important - you’ll have a hard time playing without them! We all sweat and secrete natural oils from our fingertips, which can build up on the strings and cause breakage sooner, make the strings feel sticky, rusty, or sharp, and eventually dull your tone. The easiest way to mitigate this is to simply wipe down your strings with a soft cloth before and after using the guitar, and try and play with clean, dry hands.
It is best practice to change your strings frequently. The amount of time left between changes will vary depending on your individual needs are as a player, but if there are dirty or rusty spots, kinks or any sharp areas on the string it is definitely time for a restring. We have some fantastic resources to help you change your strings if you need some guidance.
- Rusty or dirty strings are a sign that you need new strings
- Older strings are more likely to break, and don’t sound the same
- Wiping your strings after use can extend their lifespan
- Wash your hands before playing and avoid greasy fingers from food
- We offer a variety of string-cleaning products that make maintenance easy, click here for more info!
2. Fretboard Care and Oiling is a Must!
There are many types of frets and fretboard materials, and learning how to keep these in good shape will make your guitar feel much better under your fingers! Just like with strings, keeping your fretboard clean and free from grime is very important.
Darker exposed wood necks such as Rosewood or Laurel can benefit from occasional oil treatment to help retain some moisture, and if your fretboard is particularly dry or showing signs of cracking consider oiling and conditioning your fretboard. If your fretboard is made of maple, or if it has a lacquer finish, you do not need to ever use oils, just a wipe down with a soft cloth when you’re strings are off will suffice.
Frets shouldn’t need too much upkeep, but they will wear down over time. Keeping clean and fresh strings without rust will ensure that they last longer, and occasionally polishing and buffing your frets can ensure they wear evenly, and will prevent sharp spots building up, which can easily break strings.
- Only use guitar-safe oils, food products and other household oils should not be used on guitar fretboards. We have some great options like this planet waves lemon oil
- Never oil a Maple fretboard, or one that has a lacquer finish
- Avoid dropping your guitar or leaning it against hard surfaces with the fretboard facing downwards. This can cause dents, kinks and damage to your strings and fret wires
- Buffing and polishing your frets will make your bends feel smooth, and help prevent string breakage. We recommend Music Nomad FRINE fret polish
3. Nut Maintenance can make all the difference!
If you ever hear a creaking noise from your strings whilst tuning your guitar, it just means the string is getting caught in the nut. This can make tuning more difficult and will mean your guitar will probably need to be tuned more frequently, it can even cause strings to break.
- Using any normal pencil, gently rub the tip of the pencil graphite in the empty nut slot.
- With graphite flakes in the nut slot, wipe away any excess from around the edge of the nut.
- Re-string and tune your guitar.
- Alternatively, we offer long-lasting, professional nut lubricant here
This will ease the passing of the string through the nut slot, meaning your tuning will be smooth and without any creaking noise. If this does not resolve your issue, the nut slots may be too narrow for your strings and may need to be re-filed; this is a job best left to a professional. This is common if you’ve recently changed which string gauge you’re using, and is easily remedied with any good set-up.
4. Hardware Maintenance (You’ll thank us later)
General cleanliness will go a long way to help your guitar last a long time, but with any normal use the hardware will eventually start to wear from sweat and the natural oils we produce from our hands. Eventually, you’ll notice rust and grime buildup, and this can affect your saddles, bridge, strings and input jack. Isopropyl alcohol and a stiff cotton bud is enough to handle most cleaning for general maintenance, and a gentle, patient hand will keep your hardware sparkling.
- Gently clean metal areas with a soft but firm cotton bud and Ispopropyl alcohol before rust has a chance to take hold and a restoration is in order!
- Clean around the guitar output jack using the same method, you can clean inside too but don’t go digging for gold in there, the wiring shouldn’t be poked at
- Tighten your output jack bolt carefully if it is loose, do not let it twist around as you do so as this can damage the internal wiring. Carefully remove the jack-plate, tighten the nuts, then re-fit the plate
- Clean your cable-tips! If your cables see a lot of use at gigs or practice, they can be the cause of rust and grime buildup in your guitar output jack. Clean these occasionally and they will last longer too
5. Read our other resources!
We have some fantastic resources on our website to help you with set up, adjusting your truss rod, setting your action and intonation, plus string-change info on various bridge types (including correct Floyd Rose setup!). If you’re having issues in any of these areas please feel free to contact our helpful team and we’ll do all we can to assist you.
- Getting a professional set up is recommended at least once. It will show you the true potential of your instrument and reveal issues you may have never noticed before, and can never live with again!
- Set ups are generally quite affordable, but learning a few techniques to get your guitar set up nicely by yourself can save you money, it is quite enjoyable, and it is the best way to get your guitar playing the right way for you, and to your personal specifications.
- Buzzing frets, slipping machine heads, correct intonation, neck relief, action and pickup height can all be fixed with very few tools. Issues such as flat frets with dead-spots, wiring issues, pickup swaps or nut refitting may take more precision tools and know-how.
- If you’re experiencing issues with the set up of your Artist guitar, reach out and we’ll do our best to troubleshoot and advise