Introduction: How to Clean/Maintain a Guitar

This instructable is for any level guitar player who wants to learn how to clean and properly maintain their guitar.

You will need to maintain your guitar to extend the life and appearance of the guitar. Once you can spot dirt and grime on the fretboard, you should consider cleaning it. The process is not particularly hard, but there are some steps you need follow, so you don't damage your guitar.

Materials Needed:

  • Guitar (Acoustic or Electric)
  • Microfiber cloth
  • String winder/cutter (optional)
  • Fret polishing cloth
  • A guitar cleaning kit
  • Guitar strings of choice

Step 1: Removing Strings

With the headstock pointing to your left and the tuning knobs facing you, remove existing strings from guitar by rotating the tuner knob clockwise.

Step 2: Removing Strings

Once string is loose enough, pull the string through the hole to free it from the head.

For many guitars, you will need to flip the guitar over and pull the strings through. However, on other guitars, you will be able to see where the strings enter right behind the bridge.

Step 3: Beginning of Cleaning Process

After removing the strings, take the microfiber cloth and wipe off any dust on the guitar. Always remove the strings before cleaning the bridge and headstock, as these components collect noticeable dust that is hard to reach with the strings still on.

Step 4: Polishing Frets

Once the strings are off, take fret polishing cloth and rub each metal fret until shiny. (This will take a little more pressure than cleaning the fretboard, as this material is metal.)

Step 5: Cleaning/Prep to the Fretboard

Once the frets are clean, take the cleaner/prep bottle from your cleaning kit, and apply/spray to the fretboard.

After applying, work in the prep by going up and down the fretboard with the microfiber cloth to saturate the entire fretboard. After rubbing the fretboard with the cloth, wait until the fretboard is no longer saturated.

Step 6: Deep Conditioner

After removing the dirt and grime from the fretboard with the cleaner, apply deep conditioner to the fretboard, then wipe up and down the fretboard with the microfiber cloth to apply the conditioner across the entire fretboard. After using the microfiber cloth, wait until the conditioner has completely soaked into the fretboard and no longer saturated.

Step 7: Guitar Polish

After applying the conditioner, spray 2-3 pumps of the guitar polish onto a clean microfiber towel and apply across the body of the guitar. Not the fretboard, or any hardware. Once you have applied the polish, take your microfiber towel, flip it over, and buff the finish across your guitar. This will leave the guitar looking shiny and new.

Step 8: Guitar Wax

After applying the polish, take a guitar wax and apply about a dime sized drop onto a clean microfiber towel and apply to the body of the guitar. Apply only to the body, do not get this on any hardware. Rub the wax onto the guitar until wax is absorbed into the guitar. The wax will fill up any minor scratches, or any other damage done to the guitar.

Step 9: New Strings

Next, we will apply new strings to the guitar. I am using .010-gauge strings. This means that the thinnest string (high e string) is .010 inches in diameter.

First, start with the low E string (the thickest string)

Feed the string into the bridge and make sure that when you are tightening the tuning knobs, that the string sits in the groove on the saddle properly.

Feed the guitar string through the hole in the tuning knob. Also, it is important to make sure that the string is sitting in the groove on the nut.

Be sure to leave some slack in your guitar string. Doing this results in more winding on the tuning machine head, which further results into string durability. Additionally, having 2-3 winds on the machine head is ideal to make sure the string is secured on the guitar.

Step 10: Winding the String

Tighten the tuning knob to start winding the string. For the first wind, you will want to make sure the excess string goes under the attached portion of the string. After this, you will make winds above the excess string. Also, it is important that the string is being wound correctly. COUNTER CLOCKWISE. Make sure all your strings begin like the string shown above.

After tightening your string, making sure there are about 2-3 winds on the tuning machine head. Cut the remaining string off with a string cutter, or wire cutter.

After following the previous steps, this will be the result of the low e string. Repeat the process until you reach the B string.

Step 11: B and E String Tree

Once you have reached the B string, make sure the string sits under the string tree (metal piece in middle of headstock). The same process will be done for the high e string.

Step 12: Complete / Tune Guitar

After putting all the strings on, tune your guitar. Guitar maintenance is important to keep your guitar looking and sounding new. Changing strings and cleaning your guitar is based on how much you play. If you play a lot, you the strings will become more worn and more grime will be added to the fretboard, therefore you will end up having to maintain the guitar more frequently.