Maintaining Your Guitar Part 2: Everyday Tips

Taking your instrument to get set up at least once a year is a great first step in making sure your guitar or bass stays in great shape, but there are also a few things that every guitarist can do on their own to ensure their instrument stays in prime playing condition.

Change Your Strings Regularly

You should change your strings as often as every month—or at least every two months. This is important because old strings can cause your guitar to sound out of tune or dull even after you have tuned it. Here are a few things to keep in mind when changing your strings:

1) Change strings one at a time. Guitar necks want strings on them because they are built to deal with the tension that strings create. By changing your strings one at a time, you keep plenty of tension on the neck.
2) Do not cut the ends of the strings until you have changed all strings and tuned. This is important because we’re humans, and humans make mistakes. If you accidentally wind a string to the wrong tuning peg, you need to be able to take it off and put it where it should be. Cutting the string prematurely might make it impossible to re-use.
3) Re-string the same way every time. It is important to keep things consistent on your guitar. Try to make your string coil in a uniform way as you wind it up. In addition, make sure you are tightening strings in the correct direction: generally, counter-clockwise should tighten, while clockwise should loosen (if you are looking at the tuning peg head-on).

Stay Consistent With Tuning

Guitars are delicate instruments, and small changes in string tension on the neck can have negative effects. If you spend the majority of the time in standard tuning (E-A-D-G-B-e), keep it tuned that way, especially when you are not playing—if you decide to play or practice in drop D, open, or any other tuning, make sure you return to standard tuning once you have stopped playing.

Avoid Temperature Extremes

Changes in temperature and humidity can ruin guitars. Leaving your guitar in a car trunk or on the porch can expose it to rapidly changing temperatures, causing the guitar neck to warp. This is every guitarists worst nightmare because a warped guitar neck ruins intonation and cannot be fully fixed.

Hopefully you are now equipped to take care of your own guitar, and can see the benefits of having professionals set up your instrument at least once a year. That’s all for now—tune up, and rock on!