Guitar Maintenance – 2 Simple Guidelines to Follow
By Kathy Unruh
Do you have a guitar maintenance routine? If not, it might be a good idea to think establishing one in order to protect your instrument during the extreme temperature changes of winter and summer.
A good way to determine the best temperature for your guitar is to ask whether you are comfortable with it yourself. If it feels right to your own body, chances are, it’s right for your guitar’s body too! In other words, treat your guitar as you would treat yourself.
It’s an important part of your guitar maintenance routine to protect your instrument from becoming too hot during the summer months. So, never make a habit of leaving your guitar locked in a hot car all day long while you’re at school or at work. 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 guitar students took lessons on a guitar with a big gaping hole just below the bridge. The face was warped and separating from the side which was probably due to extreme temperature changes of heat and cold. The guitar was still playable, but it did not sound or look very good. Fortunately, it was a borrowed guitar, so the student didn’t lose any money. However, the owner could have avoided this problem if they had established a good guitar maintenance routine to begin with.
Placing a humidifier inside the sound hole of your guitar 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 it’s probably best to use a humidifier only if you live in a very dry climate, or perhaps during winter months if your wood stove or heater is taking too much moisture out of the air in the room.
Be careful not to store your guitar in a damp room either. If you must put your instrument in storage for some reason, remember to 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 stringed instruments as summer. If you travel with your guitar when it’s freezing cold outside, be sure to warm up the car first. In extreme conditions you may even want to put your guitar in a case inside a sleeping bag for extra protection. Do not put your instrument in the trunk for any extended period of time because it will get too cold.
2 Simple Guidelines For An Easy Guitar Maintenance Routine:
- Avoid extreme temperatures of heat and cold
- Avoid high humidity
Summing things up…
Hot & Dry Climates:
– Use a humidifier to help prevent your guitar from becoming too dry. Be sure to remove it if your guitar feels damp or you see little droplets beginning to appear inside the sound hole. (40 – 60% humidity is ideal)
– Use a guitar case and carry inside heated vehicle when traveling. Keep at room temperature when at home. (65-70 degrees Fahrenheit).
– Use activated clay packets called Dessicants inside your guitar case to help prevent excessive moisture and prevent mold.