Basic Repairs and Maintenance
The simplest thing to do to maintain your guitar is to keep it clean. Below is a list of basic, important guitar maintenance duties:
• Dust can gather anywhere on the instrument and cause problems. Use a soft cloth or feather duster, which can clean without the danger of scratching.
• Wipe down the guitar after every playing session and before you put the guitar back in its case — front, sides, back, fingerboard, and back of the neck as well.
• Clean each string. The natural oils from your fingers cause the strings to corrode, a process that over time can damage the strings' ability to sound good. These oils can seep into the fingerboard and eventually injure the wood of the instrument. Hold a cloth between your thumb and index fingers and run it along the length of each string.
• If the guitar has not been used for a while, first dust it and then rub down the wood with furniture polish or, better yet, guitar polish. (Some types of furniture polish contain abrasives that can damage the guitar's finish.) Never put polish directly onto the instrument; it can damage the finish. Put your cleaning solution onto a cloth first.
• Use a mild jeweler's or chrome polish for the metal parts, making certain first that it's not abrasive.
• Avoid keeping your guitar in a place that's subjected to direct sunlight for long periods of time or to drastic changes in temperature and humidity. This will help keep the guitar surface from cracking.
• Depending on the weight and your strength, try to carry your guitar in a hard case. If you're just going to a gig and back, then a good padded nylon gig bag will offer some protection, but not much. A leather gig bag, though much more expensive, is a better choice.
If you do accidentally chip the surface of your guitar, take the guitar to a professional guitar repairperson, who will easily fix the problem. If you decide to do it yourself, bear in mind that when you add or remove varnish, you can drastically change the wood's ability to vibrate and thus also alter the guitar's sound.
Be careful! Don't ever touch the pickups of an electric guitar with anything besides a dry brush or cloth. Pickups are electrical, and liquid can cause a short circuit. Also, you run the risk of upsetting the pickup's sensitive magnetic field.
When traveling, keep your guitar inside the vehicle if you can. A guitar in the trunk or luggage compartment can be subjected to extremes of heat and cold. If you have to put your guitar in the trunk, try to put it as close to the passenger compartment as possible. If you're hit from behind, it will stand a better chance of surviving the accident.