Guitar Maintenance

by Kathy Unruh - Date: 2006-12-08 - Word Count: 426 Share This!

Old man winter is here so it might be a good time to rethink your guitar maintenance routine; especially if you own an acoustic. I often tell my students to treat their guitar as they would treat themselves. In other words, if you're comfortable, chances are your guitar is too!

Most musicians realize how important it is to protect their instrument from becoming too hot during the summer months. For instance, it's not a good idea to leave your guitar locked in a hot car all day long while you're at work or school. Heat can dry out a guitar pretty quickly which may cause the wood to shrink and crack. High temperatures combined with high humidity may cause the wood to swell and the joints to separate. One of my students is currently using a borrowed guitar that has a big gaping hole just below the bridge. The face is warped and separating from the side which is probably due to one or all of the reasons mentioned above. It's still playable, but doesn't sound or look very good.

A guitar humidifier placed inside the sound hole can help prevent drying, but it's important not to over-due it. I read about someone who kept a humidifier in their guitar inside a closed case and mold began to grow on the wood. Once mold begins to grow it's very difficult to get rid of. So don't store your guitar in a damp room either. If you must put it in storage however, take it out of the case once in a while to make sure there's no moisture collecting on it.

Winter can be just as hazardous for stinged instruments as summer. If you travel with your guitar when it's freezing cold outside, warm up the car first. In extreme conditions you may even want to put the guitar and case inside a sleeping bag for extra protection. Do not put it in the trunk for any extended period because it will get too cold.

To sum things up, you can protect your guitar by following two simple guidlines:

- Avoid extreme temperatures of heat and cold

- Avoid high humidity (40 - 60% is ideal)

So, if you live in a hot, dry climate, then a guitar humidifier may help prevent drying if it is used correctly. But, if you live in a humid climate then you may want to use activated clay packets called Dessicants to prevent excessive moisture. You can find the Dessicants at a company called ULINE. The address and phone number are:

950 Albrecht Drive
Lake Bluff, IL 60044


Related Tags: guitar maintenance, guitar care, guitar humidifier, protect your guitar, acoustic, instrument

Kathy Unruh is a singer/songwriter and webmaster of ABC Learn Guitar. She has been writing songs and providing guitar lessons to students of all ages for over 20 years.

Each month Kathy publishes the ABC Learn Guitar Newsletter offering free tips and resources for guitar players and indie artists.

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