Recommendations for Care and Maintenance of the Guitar
Necessary Material: 1 fine microfibre cloth. 1 small bottle of sewing machine oil –(acid and resin free) , 1 small string cutter, one piece of leather, or a „picker’s cloth“ and one sleeve (T-Shirt), 1 hygrometer, 1 mat of reflecting aluminium foil (like a beach or Hiker’s mat).
For my guitars, which have an easy response , I generally recommend medium tension strings. New strings need an average of 3 days to develop the right tuning, which should be kept in mind when planning concerts.
When a new set of strings are strung, their paper wrapping, a coated cardboard piece or a piece of leather should be affixed temporarily behind the bridge- This will protect the sound table when threading the strings. Take your time with this process! A small string cutter is great for cutting the strings‘ outer ends at the bridge and the head- This helps to avoid unneccessary scratching.
The outer strings E-e will always -(not in full length)- be wound outwardly on the tuning pegs. The remaining ones are wound inwardly, as straight as possible to accommodate their placement in the saddle grooves.
Prior to the final mounting of my guitars, the fretboards are always saturated in oil, giving it an ultimate protection against humidity and clinging dirt particles.
Changing strings on your instrument gives you an excellent opportunity to clean your fret board. If you clean your instrument regularly, it is sufficient to wipe it with a fine cotton cloth (T-Shirt). For thorough cleaning however, I recommend you take sewing machine oil, brush it one the fretboard, and clean fret by fret with a cotton cloth afterwards-
A fine microfibre cloth will do to clean the varnish surface. This also serves to wipe off finger prints by applying light pressure- Do not ever use lacquer/varnish cleaning agents! Should there be a spot that won’t come off or disappear, breathe on it and wipe it – sometimes even spit will do the trick.
A couple of times throughout the year, you can apply a few drops of almond or sewing machine oil on a cotton cloth, thus cleaning and protecting the shellac polish. Shellac is a natural product which is applied to the guitar in many very thin coats. It reacts adversely to heat. In order to avoid over exposure to heat to the greatest extend, it is wise to place the guitar on top of a leather piece or a „picker’s cloth“, spots or dull areas can be thus avoided; they are only visible problems, and do not impair the quality of the instrument. If you do not wear long sleeves, it might be helpful to use a hand made protection such as a cut-off T-Shirt or sweater sleeve for the playing arm.
The mechanical parts of the instrument „deserve“ a drop of sewing machine oil as a reward for „their hard work“ throughout the year.
Belt buckles and shirt buttons can cause scratches on the shellac coat!
When playing flamenco , tapping or other kinds of rhythmic kinds of music, I recommend you use a protective foil cover on your instrument.
Generally, storage places of the guitar should not be near heaters or in an area which has direct exposure to sunlight! If you have floor-heating, you must ensure that your guitar is not directly exposed to excessive heat sources. The case should not stand directly on the floor, but on top of a piece of styrofoam which is an ideal insulation.
The guitar should not be stored in overheated cars. In summer, the temperature in a car can easily reach 60 0 C or more. If you transport your instrument, you can protect it against the sun by using a reflecting aluminium foil as cover for the case. Putting a wool blanket between the guitar case and the foil will be helpful. Upon arrival you should take the guitar out of the car as soon as possible. Just remember, the shellack varnish as well as the glue used in building the guitar resists heat only to a certain degree!
In the cold seasons, you must ensure that the room temperature is not too dry, otherwise you risc occurrance of cracks. Put water containers on the radiators, use humidifying spraying in the room. In larger rooms it may be wise to use a humidifyer. With the help of a hygrometer, room humidity is easier to control, optimum relative humidity should be around 50 %. In extreme climate conditions, the case is still the best protection for the guitar.
© Atelier Traudt 2000-2009