Keep your guitar looking and sounding its best by following these simple steps and observing a few common-sense precautions.
- If you don't already own one, get a good quality case or gig bag for your guitar. It's the least expensive insurance you can buy for a guitar. Also, get a good guitar stand to keep it on between playing sessions.
- Keep your guitar in its case or gig bag when not in continuous use.
- Keep your guitar away from extreme heat, cold, or humidity changes. Avoid placing your guitar on its stand near heaters, air conditioning vents, or windows. Leaving your guitar in a car for even a short time can cause serious damage.
- If your guitar is exposed to cold, dry conditions, invest in a humidifier to protect the wood and finish. Read our stringed instrument humidifier buying guide.
- Use only quality guitar care and maintenance products—not furniture polish or abrasive dust cloths.
- Never detune or remove all the strings at once. The truss rod is designed and adjusted to provide counter tension to the strings— removing that tension suddenly can damage or warp the neck.
- Change your strings regularly, depending on how often you play. Remove, replace, and tune up one string at a time—keeping tension on the neck as you go. And clean your frets and fingerboard while changing strings. In order to thoroughly clean your fingerboard, it is necessary to slowly detune and remove all the strings. However, if your guitar has a floating bridge that's held in place by the strings, your safest bet to avoid altering its setup is to follow the one-string-at-a-time approach.
- Invest in a quality guitar strap—especially if you stand while playing.
- Find a reputable guitar repair person, and take your guitar in for regular checkups. If you're not experienced with truss rod adjustment let a ptofessional professionals do the tweaking. The same goes for fret filing and crowning, bridge and saddle work, nut adjustments, and so on. Many a guitar has been damaged by wannabe luthiers. Either leave it to the pros or get expert hands-on training if you're the do-it-yourself type.
- Play your guitar often. A fine quality instrument made from solid woods just gets better and better the older it gets and the more it's played. It's a win-win for both you and your guitar—the more you enjoy it, the better it sounds—and the more you'll enjoy it in the future.
John Dreyer of Fender University demonstrates additional techniques for keeping your guitar in top condition.