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Care of your Guitar

Your New Guitar from Classical Guitars PLUS

  • When you receive your guitar put the guitar still in its hard case (or box if there is no case supplied) in the room in which you intend to keep it and use it.
  • Do not open the case for a few hours to let the temperature inside the case adjust to that of the room.
  • The guitar case opens enough to allow the guitar to be removed and replaced. Always hold the top of the case when lifting the guitar in or out to prevent it from falling and damaging the instrument.
  • When lifting or carrying the guitar, it should be held around the neck, as close to the body as possible, as this prevents excessive leverage on the neck joint.
  • When you first open the case, please examine the guitar carefully. It was thoroughly checked before it was packed and dispatched and any damage which has occurred during transit needs to be reported to the couriers and to ourselves without delay.
  • Guitars are usually shipped with loose strings to avoid additional strain on the bridge during travel. As soon as possible after you open the case, tune the guitar in order to bring the strings to the correct tension. 
  • Prepare a guitar humidifier according to the manufacturer’s instructions and place it in the guitar case ready for when you replace the guitar. It is absolutely essential that the guitar is kept correctly humidified; if it is not then there is a very high chance that the wood will crack over time. This is particularly important in the first year of the instrument’s life. Remember that humidifiers need re-wetting periodically so check yours at least once a week or in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Take great care to ensure that your humidifier does not leak water onto the body of the guitar as this could cause serious damage. 
  • If you play with short sleeves, place a cloth between your arm and the body to prevent your sweat from damaging the finish.. 
  • It may be obvious, but make sure you are not wearing anything which can scratch the instrument – belt buckles, shirt or jacket buttons, zips, even rings and watch straps have all done damage at some time.
  • Always return the guitar to its hard case when not in use.
  • If you need to move your guitar between surroundings with different temperature and humidities, make every effort to have a gradual rather than an abrupt transition. Leave the guitar in its case for a few hours in the new surroundings before opening it.
  • The best place to keep an instrument is one which is neither too hot nor too cold and one which is relatively humid. Central heating is a great enemy of high quality musical instruments. The principal reason is that it reduces the humidity of the air as it increases its temperature. The most unsuitable place is therefore next to a radiator. Also to be avoided are open fires, gas fires and all types of room heater. If you play your guitar in a centrally heated room – and most of us do – consider placing humidifiers on the radiators. Excessive heat can also affect the glues used to hold the guitar together. Never leave your guitar in a car parked in sunlight.
  • Play your guitar regularly; the more it is played the better it will sound. Expect the sound to develop noticeably over the first year. This is particularly true of spruce soundboards.
  • Always clean your guitar after you have finished playing using a standard instrument cleaning cloth. Remove grease from the finish or it will discolour it over time. Pay attention to the strings as grease from your fingers if left on them will cause them to deteriorate more rapidly than otherwise.
  • Never use an abrasive cleaning product or abrasive cloth to clean your guitar. Normally rubbing it over with a standard instrument cleaning cloth is all it needs. If you want to polish your instrument it is best to use a silicone-free preservation polish obtainable from specialist instrument maker/luthier suppliers. IF YOU HAVE A FRENCH POLISHED GUITAR – do NOT use any polish at all, not even one specifically sold for guitars – Please read our article on Caring for French Polished Guitars .
  • If you do not play your guitar for extended periods of time, take it out of the case to “breathe” at least once a month. It is also important to “air” the case as the still, damp air inside can cause mould in the lining of the case if left undisturbed for extended periods.
  • The action on the guitar can be adjusted to suit your personal playing style. Please do not attempt any adjustments until you have had the guitar for at least 2 weeks and do not attempt adjustments at all unless you are completely confident in your skills and knowledge. Adjustments are made by raising or lowering the saddle in the bridge. The saddle is usually only loosely fitted and can be removed once the strings have been removed, or even when they have simply been loosened. The saddle is lowered by filing and can be raised by inserting packing underneath (thin card such as that used for business cards can be used although there are better materials) . The filing must be done in such a way as to maintain a straight line across the bottom of the saddle; failure to do so will reduce the quality of the instrument’s tone. Advanced players may also want to adjust the height of the nut too. This kind of work is routine to experienced classical guitar builders and repairers and they will have a wealth of advice to offer too. Remember to check you technique before you attempt changes in string height.
  • If you experience buzzing from the strings, you can raise either the nut or the saddle or both using thin card (see previous paragraph). 
  • Experiment with different strings, though strings of high quality are strongly recommended. The lower the action, the higher the string tension should be.
  • If your guitar has electronics (tuner, pick up, tone/volume adjusters) you may need to replace the battery from time to time. Please make sure to use a battery of the correct type and observe the correct polarity when fitting. It is very easy to exhaust a battery if you leave the electronics switched on all the time.
  • Some instruments use nitro-cellulose finishes. Such finishes can be damaged when placed in contact with polymeric (plastic) materials. As a safety precaution, please avoid keeping your guitar in close proximity to plastics.