As you play and handle it often, a guitar gets dirty. Dirt, grime, and oil often gather on the strings, fretboard, pickup, and the main body.
Besides improving its appearance, proper cleaning lengthens a guitar’s lifespan, and improves its sound clarity.
Get your materials ready. That includes soft cloth, guitar polish, and small amount of water. Besides, clean your hands before you begin the cleaning process.
Have a stable place to prop your equipment without fearing it may slide and fall.
Do not use ordinary household cleaners or any silicone-based product as they will adversely affect your guitar.
Body Cleaning Tips
Before cleaning the guitar’s body, take note of its finish. The guitar with a wood finish is somehow porous. And hence don’t employ water or any other liquid when cleaning such guitars.
Although removing the strings is optional, it lightens the task. Wipe off the body with a soft cloth and take note of the area that lies beneath the strings.
Either use a separate clean cloth for each side or rinse the cloth so that you don’t spread dirt all over. For fingerprints or smudges, blowing out warm breath from your mouth followed by wiping with a cloth may do the trick.
If the finish allows, apply polish on the cloth and rub it on the guitar’s body. If you so wish, dirt proof it by waxing the whole body.
Strings Cleaning Tips
After every play, give the strings a quick cleaning using a lint-free cloth. That way you won’t need deep cleaning now and then.
Using a soft, lint-free cloth, pinch a string one at a time and pull it slightly up so that it becomes tense. Then while maintaining the tension rub the cloth on the entire length of the string. Do it a couple of times on the string before proceeding to the next.
Next, slide the soft cloth beneath one string. Fold the cloth to sandwich the string in between it. Then run the cloth on the entire length of the string.
Fretboard and Neck Cleaning Tips
When you remove the strings, cleaning the fretboard is easier. So, try to coincide it with the time when you are changing the guitar strings.
Otherwise, for light cleaning you don’t need to remove the strings.
Dampen the soft cloth lightly with distilled vinegar and use it to wipe off the grime. For extra stubborn dirt, use ultra-fine steel wool.
The pickups have magnets that are likely to attract small pieces of steel wool. So, first, cover the pickups before using the steel wool. Lastly use a revitalizer (fretboard conditioner) to rehydrate the feather board.
However, if you have the lacquered fretboard then wipe it with a soft cloth only. Do not use steel wool or any conditioning product on it lest it becomes dull.
Bridge Cleaning Tips
The bridge supports the guitar strings and is closer to the sound hole. The moisture of the air and sweat from the hands can cause it to rust.
Using a damp cloth wipe off the entire bridge just like you do to the fretboard. However, for otherwise difficult dirt a toothbrush and cleaner come in handy.
But ensure the cleaner doesn’t reach the non-metallic parts of the guitar.
Pickups Cleaning Tips
The pickups are among the most vital parts of your guitar. Besides rusting, the accumulation of rust can cause it to fail. Removing the strings gives you direct access to the pickups.
Use compressed air to blow off the loose dirt that your hand can’t reach. Finally, brush it off with a soft dry cloth.
In case the pickups show signs of rusting, remove them from the guitar and then clean. After that, clear the corrosion using a rust dissolving agent, wipe off the liquid from the pickups, and install it back.
A guitar has different parts that you have to clean differently. That’s why it’s vital to know how to go about every part. Nevertheless, deep cleaning the guitar frequently isn’t a wise move.
One viable opportunity to deep clean the guitar is when changing the strings. Otherwise after every play, carry out a light cleaning exercise on the equipment.