The Do's and Don'ts of Instrument Care
Musical instruments are a strange dichotomy. While guitars can withstand decades of hard playing, they’re also quite fragile, so today we’re going to run down a short list of things that you can do (or not do) to prolong the life of your instrument. Remember – a guitar is for life, not just for NAMM.
A Question of Moisture
One of the most common ailments that we see coming into the workshop is that of bellying. A predominantly acoustic disease, this is the term describing an instance when the body of an acoustic rises at the bridge. Immediately identifiable through a lump behind the bridge, in extreme cases it can result in the body collapsing into the soundhole. The most common cause of this phenomenon is excess humidity, which can in the less severe cases be solved by placing the guitar in a dehumidifying, hydrometer-equipped case, and in the most worrying instances by following a dry box treatment with a setup.
Guitars are very susceptible to moisture and humidity – they are wood after all – so how you store your instrument makes all the difference. We’re not suggesting you keep it in a hermetically-sealed chamber and only bring it out on special occasions, but not storing it next to your radiator, in a garage, or in the boot of your car without a case will decrease the likelihood of your neck becoming a pretzel. Don’t store your guitar next to the window either, as this is the highest and lowest point of temperature in the house, and the fluctuations will make your beloved instrument do silly things. This in turn will preserve anything that might be glued in place (binding, neck joins etc), and you’ll spend less time coming to the workshop with your guitar in two bits.
Fix It Fix It Fix It Fix It
Like a car or human teeth an instrument requires servicing. Wood moves about depending on how it’s handled, how rough you are with it, where it’s stored, what countries it’s been to, what it’s made from and many other permutations, so bringing it in for your local shop to cast an eye over is more than worth doing. Regular servicing doesn’t just allow your instrument to feel consistent, it prolongs its life, allows you to play with more confidence, and, like a butler, takes care of little things so you don’t have to think about them.
This is the case for everything from the lowliest starter classical to the highest-end golden sculpture, and irrespective of how much a piece can cost, it – like a car – needs looking after. Any guitar shop worth their salt should be able to diagnose the variety of problems that instruments can present, and if you’re not sure what you’re looking at or you can’t put your finger on what’s wrong, come in and ask.
More importantly – and this really can’t be stressed enough – if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t do it. The amount of botched DIY repairs guitar shops take on would blow your mind; everything from soldering your strings to the tuners, wiring your cable to a 3-pin plug and connecting it to the mains, or tightening the truss rod until it doesn’t move (all very real things). These can all be avoided if you bring your instrument to a proper guitar tech to get the work done. If you have by some chance glued your strings to your fingerboard don’t fret, or re-fret or do any work on the frets; pop your instrument down to the shop and our world class experts can give you the best advice and service to help resolve your dilemma.