Congratulations on acquiring your new baby (I mean your guitar)! If you have not yet, but are on your way there, congratulations in advance to you too. Now that you have (or are about to have) this beautiful instrument in your hands, we are going to look at the best possible ways to take care of it by highlighting what not to do in order to ensure a long and healthy life for your guitar. Whether your guitar is old or new, it still needs to be taken care of properly. Avoid these common mistakes that beginners especially, make with their new guitar (P.S: note that these tips can also be applied when paying mind to an old guitar too, they should be taken care of the same way).
Never ignore the temperature and humidity environment of your guitar
Guitars are very delicate instruments that need to be looked after with special attention, humidity and temperature changes in an environment can adversely or positively affect the well-being of your guitar. There are several ways to store your guitar at home, what to do and what not to do; your guitar is best stored at 45% to 55% relative humidity and a temperature of 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 21 to 24 degrees Celsius. Also, never expose your guitar to dust or direct sunlight.
Never use the wrong type of strings
Guitar strings are of two major types: we have the steel strings and the nylon strings. The nylon strings are specifically meant for classical guitars and the steel strings are meant for other acoustic guitars. If you have a classical guitar, use ONLY nylon strings, using steel strings will damage your guitar because the neck of a classical guitar is not strong enough to bear the tension on the neck caused by steel strings. In other words, you can use nylon strings for a steel-string guitar but you should NEVER use steel-strings for a nylon-string (classical) guitar.
Never leave your strings for too long before changing them
Don’t wait until your strings start rusting before changing them, rusted strings do not sound bright and they are often out of tune and if the rust gets so bad, it may damage your fingers and cause you pain while playing and the rust may damage the frets and fretboard. I wrote an article specifically to guide you as a beginner on how often you should change your guitar strings, go check it out! If you do not also know how to change your acoustic guitar strings, there’s an article that can help you out!
Never sit on your guitar/guitar case or rest heavy objects on it
Some beginners are fond of doing this; never use your guitar as an elbow support to lean on or watch a movie, never use it as a table to place your food, eat, write or do other things. Your guitar should be your cherished instrument and not your working desk. Avoid placing hot stuff like tea, coffee or food on your guitar, avoid placing heavy objects on your guitar and/or guitar case, the weight of the object placed on it may gradually begin to break the guitar/guitar case or form a dent in it.
Never use very heavy strings on your guitar (beginners especially)
If you’re just starting out to play, start with lighter strings, they are easier to bend and gentler on the fingers, they are perfect for beginners who are just starting out. As you progress and as your fingers become tougher, you can try out other string gauges and see which one sounds better and works better for you. No idea what exactly I’m talking about? No worries! There’s an article that talks about string gauge and all you need to know about it.
Never scratch the surface of your guitar
This can be done unintentionally by holding or keeping it carelessly against walls and rough surfaces. Belts, button, jewelries or clothes that are made of rough materials can also act as agents in destroying the finish of your guitar even without you knowing. So, whenever you hold your guitar, be very careful of the kind of objects that are touching or rubbing against the body of your guitar.
Never use “just anything” to clean your guitar
Avoid using other cleaning agents, household cleaning products or furniture polish from stores that may damage the guitar finish or strings, there are recommended cleaning products made specially for your guitar. If you want the DIY option, lemon oil should be your best bet, but be careful not to over oil or use too much products on your guitar. Never use a paper towel, sponge or rough cloth to clean your guitar. Don’t even think of using water to clean the strings or any other part of your guitar, that’s just a horrible thing to do. Read about how to properly clean your guitar here.
Never play the guitar when your hands are dirty or wet
Playing the guitar when your hands are either dusty, wet or greasy may cause the strings to rust and damage the fretboard of the guitar; always clean and dry your hands properly before you play your guitar
Never slam your guitar or hit it out of anger or frustration
Yeah…it can be really frustrating not getting what you want or not being able to play what you just heard, it can be annoying to twist your fingers in a particular pattern and you still cannot get those notes right! Calluses are even forming on your fingers but it still looks like you’re not making any effort. This can be really really hard to endure, I know. But no matter how frustrated you get, never vent out your anger on your guitar; don’t punch it, kick it or slam it against the wall out of anger, you’re only incurring extra expenses for yourself because you’ll either have to foot the bill of repairing the damage or getting another one entirely.
Never leave your guitar laying on the floor or against the wall
This is why you should always use a guitar stand or pack it back in its case when you’re not using it. Frequent falls damage your guitar faster than you can ever think; dislocated necks, broken headstocks, peeled-off bodies and cracked finish are mostly the outcomes of guitars that fall down or are tripped over too often.
Bonus: Never buy a guitar without buying all the essential accessories to go with it. When you buy a guitar, make sure you get tools that can make the maintenance of the guitar easy like cleaners, tuners, extra strings, straps, cables, screwdrivers etc.
Even if you have made one or more of these mistakes, no time is too late to correct it.
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