5 Steps to Clean Acoustic Guitars / Friday, 14 October 2016

Written by  Alex Mew
5 Steps to Clean Acoustic Guitars

Keeping your acoustic guitar clean should be an essential part of your general guitar maintenance routine. This routine should include cleaning the body, cleaning the fingerboard and even the strings.

Your skin gets oily and sweaty. Not pleasant to talk about, but nonetheless true, and these natural secretions can take their toll on the guitar body, fingerboard, frets and strings. So whether your guitar is a regular pick-up and play instrument or a handcrafted masterpiece, it will doubtless benefit from this most essential of maintenance.

  1. Get a lint-free cloth.  
    Microfibre or lint free cloths are an essential in guitar maintenance. These soft cloths shouldn’t shed any unwanted threads which could leave your guitar looking dustier than it did in the first place. These threads also love getting stuck under fret edges too. So, a microfiber cloth is the way to go.

  2. Use Guitar Polish.  
    If your guitar has a lacquered (gloss) body, using a polish to clean it and bring back the shine is a good idea. (If your guitar has a satin finish, do not polish it!)

    There are lots of types of guitar polish, and most are relatively similar. For a Faith Guitar, you should fine with any of the current brands on the market. We tend to use USA-made ‘Kyser’ polish, but you can try whatever you fancy. But.. you are always advised to try it on a small area first just to be on the safe side. So spray a small amount of polish onto the lacquered parts of the body, and carefully wipe until clean and shiny. Be sure that your cloth does not have any grit on it. If you polish with a gritty cloth, you’ll be sorry!

    NB: However, if you have an older or vintage guitar, you must be very careful. Most modern types of polish will use chemicals and silicon which can sometimes damage the lacquer on historic instruments. So seek professional advice before polishing your 1930s classic!

  3. Take care of your fingerboard.
    The fingerboard on your guitar will most likely be made of Rosewood or Ebony, and unlike the body, it will be unfinished and unsealed. This leaves the wood more susceptible to drying out for one thing, and also leaves the pores open for dirt and grime to become embedded.

    The most common thing to use for cleaning your fingerboard is Lemon Oil, although some people recommend other oils such as Linseed. In our Faith Guitar workshops we use Lemon Oil for cleaning and moisturising both rosewood and ebony boards. Just apply a small amount to a dry, lint-free cloth (not the same cloth you used for the polish!) and rub it into the fingerboard between the frets. Try to ensure you get right up to the edge of the frets as this is the place that you’ll get the most build-up of grime.

  4. Clean your strings.
    Unsurprisingly, the condition of your strings will have a huge effect on the quality of your guitar’s sound. Some people change their strings very frequently, and that’s to be advised if you’re a professional player with a heavy gigging schedule. However, for most of us who aren’t gigging every night, cleaning your strings after each session will ensure they last longer and sound better for longer too.

    Again, there a number of brand choices for string cleaner. In our workshops we tend to use Kyser string cleaner (we’re a fan of Kyser products), but there are others too. All you have to do is spray a little string cleaner onto a clean, lint-free cloth and wipe the strings. It will remove the oils and sweat from the string surface ensuring they sound good for longer.

    If you use coated strings, you will find that they need cleaning less regularly, as they are already coated in a protective layer. However, users of traditional uncoated strings will benefit the most from a regular string wipe.

  5. Put your guitar back in its case!
    We know that guitars look cool on the wall or on a stand in the corner of the room, but they’ll get dusty and dirty much more quickly, and there’s a higher chance of a passing child/dog/careless drunk friend breaking it into tiny pieces. And no one wants that!


So there you go. Our 5 top tips for caring for your acoustic guitar.

We now recommend that you also learn about the effect of humidity. Believe us when we say that your guitar will thank you for it! Humidity can wreak havoc with your pride and joy…

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