An electric guitar is not only a pricey investment, but likely a cherished possession as well. In good hands, an electric guitar can last decades upon decades with just common sense care and some regular maintenance. While accidents will happen, some that are almost unavoidable, several of the most common types of damage seen in electric guitars are completely avoidable. With the following tips, you can help ensure that you and your guitar will have many years of happy shredding ahead!
While this might seem obvious, not everyone takes the necessary steps to ensure their ax doesn't end up decapitated. Even though gig bags are inexpensive and convenient, they offer very little protection from hard surfaces. Accidental drops and falls are virtually inevitable and are going to happen, especially if you regularly gig. Do yourself a favor and invest in a hardshell case. This is especially true if you happen to have a guitar with an angled headstock (such as several Gibson models) as they are several times more likely to break with a good fall. While a few dents and chipped paint might not be the worst thing in the world, a broken headstock will require a pricey repair. With that said, the cost of a good case is well worth the added security.
Although many players out there know of the problems that humidity can cause to an electric guitar, few have any idea in how to prevent them. Unless you have some sort of exotic all metal model, you guitar is mainly comprised of wood and thus affected by moisture and heat. And that goes double for acoustic guitars which are much more sensitive to humidity issues. In essence, too much moisture and wood expands; too dry and it shrinks. While it might not be obviously visible, its enough to cause your guitar's finish to crack or your frets to start poking out. Ideally, you want to store your guitar in a room with 47% humidity and at 70 degrees. The best thing to do to regulate humidity for your instrument is investing in a guitar humidifier, a device that evenly distributes moisture in order to keep your ax from drying out. You can also try adding several plants to boost the overall moisture level in your room.
I can't tell you how many times I just shake my head as I see a player leave his guitar in the trunk of his car on a hot day. Just as with humidity, extreme heat will also cause plenty of problems. In temperatures of over 80 degrees, the polyvinyl glue used in most modern guitars can begin to melt. In temperatures of 100 degrees, the glue joints can begin to come apart. Repairs for these easily preventable problems tend to be pricey and complicated. Aside from never leaving your guitar inside your car on a hot day, you can invest in a hygrometer with a temperature gauge on it so that you can ensure that your guitar is being stored in a safe location.
Knobs / Pots
We have all had guitars with crackly knobs, or have pots that will freeze up or short out. If you have more than a few guitars, we all have a few that we play much less than the rest. Sealed guitar pots have internal lubrication, but can dry out when they are not used. The advice is simple: once a month, turn the knobs on all of your guitars. You can use some of the electrical component cleaning supplies out there, but be careful, some will do more harm than good, and can damage your finish. If you do need the knobs lubed, taking it to a tech is the best option, and with good care and knob-wiggling, you should only need the knobs lubed once every few years.
Your Turn to Sound Off!
What's steps do you take to prevent damage to your guitar?
Sound off in the comment section below!