Cleaning an electric guitar is similar to cleaning a guitar but there are a few more things you need to take note of. Some of these factors are that an electric guitar has many metal parts and lots of the hardware detaches so that you can clean it better. I will go over these in more detail later on in this post but for now let me tell you why you need to clean your guitar and keep it looking good.
Dust and all sorts of particles will build up on your guitar over time and you will need to clean it on a regular basis. I recommend that every time you change your strings on your guitar that you clean it at the same time. The reason I say this is because once your strings are off of your guitar you will be able to take it apart and get into those hard to reach places much more easily.
This way you can do both of these tasks at the same time and not have to worry about them later on. Just clean your guitar when you restring it and your guitar will be in good shape for sure.
Clean Your Guitar Strings
It is very important that when cleaning your electric guitar you take special care of your strings at the same time. Make sure they don’t build up on dirt and look gross. This will wreak the wood on your guitar and your strings will not nearly sound as good. You will also need to restring your guitar often as a result and this will be a pain. I’ve written an article on taking care of your guitar strings which you can read if you help in this area.
How To Clean Your Guitar Strings
Just remember to wash your strings and clean them once you are done playing. This will help you increase the life of your strings drastically. Learning how to take care of your guitar strings is an important part of learning how to play guitar.
Check your pickups and volume knobs
A very common place for rust and dirt to build up on your guitar is your pickups and your volume knobs. They get dirty pretty quickly and any guitarist will notice this as well. You can always take a cloth and wipe down the areas but sometimes it’s hard to reach the small places.
You can use a can of air which might help you reach these tiny places. A can of air is great for removing dust but it doesn’t really clean anything.
If you are having trouble you can always take an Allen Wrench or screwdriver and unscrew the bridge and pickups. These pieces come off pretty easily so you don’t have to worry about not being able to put them back on or anything. Just don’t lose your screws as it’s hard to find replacements later on.
If your guitar is really old and there is rust on your metal parts, you can always polish them. Use a toothbrush or something similar to scrub away the dirt and rust that can build up on your bridge and pickups overtime.
However, if you take care of your guitar you shouldn’t have to worry too much about it. Your volume knobs also unscrew so you can clean those as well at the same time.
Clean the Body
Over time the oil and dirt on your fingers will leave fingerprints on your guitar. If you have a black paint job on the body of your guitar you will especially know what I am talking about here. This attracts fingerprints and after awhile it can make nice guitars look old really fast.
A simple cloth and water is what I usually use at first. Just damp the cloth so that it is enough to scrub away any finger prints. You don’t have to soak the cloth just make sure it is damp.
After you wipe away all the finger prints and dry it you can add a wax or guitar product to make it look shiny and new. You can get these at your local guitar shop so stop by and buy a bottle. It will probably last you for years to come.
Clean the Fret board
At the same time that you are restringing your guitar, you will want to check your fret board and keep it clean. There are many different types of fret boards and each kind should be cleaned slightly differently. The wood will react differently depending on the quality of the wood itself. Most necks will consist of ether Maple, Rosewood, or Ebony.
Each type of wood requires different levels of care involved. For instance, guitars with Maple necks don’t require as much cleaning as they are usually coated to protect them. This means that you don’t have to clean them as much.
Rosewood and Ebony will usually be protected by the natural oils that are in the wood. However, overtime this may wear down so they might require more cleaning then a maple neck. It all depends on the guitar and how it was made, so it will vary from guitar to guitar.
Usually higher end guitars will have coats on them to protect them longer while lower priced guitars won’t look as good. You will need to look after and clean a cheaper guitar better then a more expensive one.
Just stick to using water based substances and a little bit of oil. Stay away from waxes and other types of cleaners as these will destroy the wood on your fret board over time.
If you are unsure and want to do the right thing without messing up just buy a cleaner from a guitar shop. These are usually a little bit more expensive but this way you know that you are doing the right thing. You will also more than likely only need to buy one bottle every couple of years.
Clean Your Guitar on a Regular Basis
The biggest piece of advice I can give anyone who is trying to clean their guitar is to just do it on a monthly basis or so. Every time you change the strings on your guitar, you might as well give it a quick wipe and make sure everything is in place.
In order to keep your guitar clean and healthy you will need to prevent it from getting dirty in the first place.
These are just a few tips and I may go into more detail in each area later on but for a beginner guitar player, this should be good enough.
I’ve written a few other articles on guitar maintenance and I will include a link to them at the bottom of this post for reference.
If you follow these simple tips, you will learn how to clean your guitar in no time. It’s not rocket science or anything; you just need to know how to do it. Like usual, if you have any question about learning how to play guitar or about how to clean an electric guitar, just e-mail me and I would love to help you out.