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Electric Guitar Maintenance Tip
Guitar Maintenance can be tricky! Common Questions are: When
do I change my strings? Why doesn't my guitar sound like it did
a month ago? Why are my strings buzzing? I spilled Coke on my
guitar, how do I get it off? These are questions which will probably
cross your mind at some time or another!
There are many parts on the electric guitar which play an
important role in the guitar's tone and playability. In this guitar
repair tip, I will show you how to maintain each guitar part.
These are the knobs on the headstock which you turn to tune each
string. If you have a vintage guitar with old-style
Kluson Tuners, you might have to lubricate them
from time to time. You can check with a qualified guitar repair
man for his lubricant of choice.
A high-quality, well-cut nut is very important for the guitar's
tone and it's ability to stay in tune. Keep the nut slots ( the
groove where the string sits) well lubricated with soap. I do this
every time before I play. Lightly dampen the edge of a bar of soap
and rub it over each groove (pull the string out first).
Frets are the part of the guitar that get the
most wear and tear! Depending on how much you play, you will need
to have your frets dressed from time to time.
Over time, the spot on the fret where the string
touches gets worn from pressing and bending the string on the fret.
This causes buzzing and intonation problems.
When a repairman dresses a fret, he lightly
files it, shaping the fret until it has the proper crown and shape.
Don't try to file the frets yourself unless you have experience
doing so. If you would like to learn how, you should buy
Player Repair Guide.
The Strings and Fingerboard
These two go hand and hand. If you don't wipe down your strings
after you play, the dirt that builds up on the strings, gets on
the fingerboard, especially next to the frets (Click
Here to learn how often to change your strings). After
you wipe down the strings, run the same soft cloth over the fingerboard
(between the strings)moving the strings out of the way a bit so
that you are sure to cover all the spots.
If you don't play the guitar very often, A couple of times per year apply
some lemon oil with a soft cloth to the fingerboard which moisturizes
and prevents cracking.
*If the fingerboard has accumulated grime over a long
period of time, you'll have to carefully scrape
it off. Use a hard piece of cardboard or a plastic radius gauge
(found at Stewart
Macdonald supplies). Be sure to use a scraper that won't scratch
the surface of the fingerboard. First use a q-tip dipped in Naptha
(a solvent you can get at a hardware store) to loosen the dirt.
Keep the bridge slots ( the groove where the
string sits) well lubricated with soap. I do this every time before
I play. Lightly dampen the edge of a bar of soap and rub it over
each groove (pull the string out first).
The body of your guitar does get dirty over
time with dust, sweat, and other various things that fingers put
on it. If your guitar isn't too dirty you can clean it with a clean,
soft cloth (an old sock will work fine). Before you wipe, breathe
on the area first ( fog it ), then wipe gently in small circles
until the dirt is gone.
Volume and Tone Knobs
There shouldn't be too much maintenance needed
for these. However, over time dirt and dust can build up inside
the pot (potentiometer - what the know is connected to). You should
be able to get rid of it by turning the knob very fast back and
forth. If this doesn't work, you can get some tuner cleaner at Radio
Shack and spray it into the pot. *To do this, stick the cleaner's
hose tip into the opening in the side of the pot's case, and spray
it liberally. Tilt the piece, so the cleaner can run back out as
it flushes the pot while you turn the shaft on and off to clean
the contacts. If your guitar has sealed pots with no hole to spray
into, remove the knob and pull up lightly on the shaft. Spray it
Guitar Pickups require little maintenance. Once they are installed
correctly and set to the proper height, the only thing you might
need to do is adjust the pickup height. Most pickups are held in
position by two screws and two small springs which allow you to
raise or lower the pickup. Pickups need to be at the right height
in order to pick up the vibration of the string without adversely
affecting the string vibration. If the pickup is too close to the
string, the strings that are above the pickup might not sound in
If you would like to learn how to set the pickup height
for your guitar, you should buy the Guitar
Player Repair Guide.