A Comprehensive Guide to Cleaning an Electric Guitar

Cleaning is typically not a pleasant activity. Cleaning the car, vacuuming the house, and doing the dishes are all tedious tasks. Cleaning electric guitar, however, is crucial if you’re a musician and want to ensure they last a lifetime!

Table of content:

1. Why do you need to clean an electric guitar?
2. A Summary Guide for Cleaning an electric guitar 
3. How to get ready to clean your electric guitar
3.1. How to clean fretboard
3.2. How to clean guitar body
3.3. How to clean guitar hardware
4. What to clean the guitar with?
5. Frequently Asked Questions.

1. Why do you need to clean an electric guitar?

The atmosphere and length of time you play in will significantly make your guitar dirty. For instance, if you do shows every weekend, you’re probably used to standing on stages that are 1000 degrees and being illuminated by enough lights to guide an airplane in for a landing. Sweating while performing an hour-long concert under bright stage illumination is bad for your guitar.

Sweating profusely while playing in this situation is like kryptonite for your instrument. In addition to being unsightly, sweat and grease on your guitar’s surface can permanently harm the fretboard by wearing away the lacquer. Additionally, it can damage your instrument’s hardware and electronic parts, resulting in corrosion and other issues.

That’s why you need to consider cleaning your electric guitar frequently to maintain the best quality and look.

2. A Summary Guide for Cleaning an electric guitar 

To make your guitar shine like it’s brand new, follow these simple instructions if you want to get right to the point.

  • Hands-off: Although it is obvious, it is also the most crucial factor!
  • Removing strings: leaning the body and fretboard will be much simpler if the strings are removed.
  • Cleaning guitar fretboard: Use fine steel wool to remove the tenacious crud. Then, rehydrate the wood with lemon oil. Maple fretboards may be cleaned with a wet cloth.
  • Polishing the guitar’s body: Spraying guitar polish onto a soft cloth and wiping off poly-finished (gloss) instruments. Polish should be buffed out using a dry area. Only use a dry towel to clean guitars with matte, satin, or nitro finishes.
  • Cleaning guitar hardware: To make your hardware shine, clean any dirt or dried sweat with a soft cloth and a small quantity of guitar polish. 

3. How to Get Ready to Clean Your Guitar

Even if you abide by the advice mentioned above, your instrument will eventually require cleaning. Although it’s possible to clean your guitar without taking the strings off, a thorough clean may make this essential and much more straightforward! 

Wash your hands first, then prepare a spot to put up your instrument. We would strongly advise cleaning it in a well-lit area so you can quickly identify all the flaws that need the most outstanding care. The guitar may be set up on a workbench, table, or desk, or, if you’d want, it can just sit in your lap.

3.1. How to clean fretboard

The most crucial guitar component to maintain regular cleaning is likely this one. The fretboard of your guitar is the area that experiences the most excellent wear and abuse. If you’re not cautious, excessive perspiration and dust buildup might result in irreversible damage.

Sweat dehydrates the wood as it dries and evaporates, which can cause cracks to form or permanent markings to appear. The primary fretboard components that are present on the majority of guitars are cleaned in the manner that is listed below.

  • Pau Ferro, Ebony, and Rosewood Fretboards

Many of Jim Dunlop’s products are excellent for cleaning Rosewood/Ebony fretboards. Steel wool, though, may be necessary to use if you’ve been very sluggish and a lot of filth has accumulated. If so, be sure to use just 0000 steel wool. Its delicate steel fibers remove any undesired dirt without harming or wearing out the frets. It will somewhat polish them!

Cover your electric guitar picks with masking tape before using steel wool to prevent the tiny metal particles from adhering to their magnets. After doing so, put on some latex gloves and, for maximum efficiency, gently rub the wool into the fingerboard in a circular motion. Once you’ve finished, clean the surface by sweeping or wiping away any dirt.

The fretboard may now be treated, which rehydrates the wood and thoroughly cleans it to make it seem brand-new. Lemon Oil and Jim Dunlop’s Guitar Fingerboard Kit are excellent cleaning and conditioning products. You may do this by rubbing it on the board with steel wool after applying the previous step with a moist cloth or toothbrush. However, don’t skimp on the quantity you apply. You don’t want to entirely submerge the fretboard since that might cause it to deform. Little is often enough!

  • Maple fretboards

Due to their softer wood tone, maple fingerboards are more likely to reveal stains and markings than Rosewood or Ebony boards. The fact that conditioner products cannot be used on Maple just makes matters worse. So, how should a Maple board be cleaned?

Using 0000 steel wool, which is incredibly fine, is one of the most acceptable ways to clean an untreated Maple fretboard. This gets rid of grime without harming the frets. You may also use a bit of moist cloth, especially on Maple with a satin finish, but typically stay away from doing anything else.

Only a moist (or dry) towel should be used to clean a lacquered maple fingerboard. Lemon oil will dull the surface and similarly remove the gloss, while steel wool will remove the sheen and leave a matte-like finish. Use a dry or barely wet cloth only. If the lacquer is thick, you could even want to add a tiny dab of Jim Dunlop Formula 65 Guitar Polish.

3.2. How to clean guitar body

No matter how careful you are, the body of your guitar may eventually accumulate some stains and oil. Fortunately for you, cleaning the body is less scary and effortless than cleaning the fretboard. The body finish of your guitar must also be taken into account. So before you start cleaning it, be careful to know what kind of finish it has.

Use a soft towel to wipe down the body for each finish listed below. The Jim Dunlop Polish Cloth is a lovely lightweight cotton cloth that you can stow in your guitar case or gig bag.

  • Guitars with gloss and poly finishes

Most mass-produced guitars have a polyester or polyurethane finish, providing your instrument with a glossy protective covering. This prevents the wood from becoming porous or absorbent, making it the most straightforward finish to maintain. To make your guitar appear as if it belongs in a showroom, you may apply several polishes or waxes.

The accepted practice Uses Jim Dunlop Formula 65 Guitar Polish as a fantastic cleaning to remove any accumulated sweat or oil. Spray it a few times onto a towel instead, then wash the guitar down because it’s preferable to avoid getting it on the instrument directly. Here is how it works:

If you desire, you may add some Jim Dunlop Platinum 65 Spray Wax to give it a polished, “good-as-new” appearance. The beautiful thing about wax is that it offers a dirt-resistant layer of protection for a while, allowing your instrument to remain clean for a more extended period.

Never use lemon oil or other common home cleaners on a guitar since they contain ingredients that will dull and damage the finish. When it comes to your pride and joy, it’s nearly always better to stick with specialized items, so browse our complete selection of upkeep and cleaning supplies.

  • Guitars with matte and satin finishes

Only a dry cloth should be used to clean a matte guitar finish. If you’ve ever had a guitar with a matte finish, you know that the finish will deteriorate with time, and glossy areas may appear where your hands have had the most touch with the instrument (such as above the bridge where your picking hand rests). This implies that applying a polish or wax won’t help the situation; instead, it’s better to gently wipe the guitar’s surface with a dry cloth while avoiding cleaning agents.

Satin-finished guitars have a smoother feel than matte-finished ones but have a more semi-glossy appearance. The same procedure is used to clean guitars with a satin finish; only a dry cloth should be used. A lightly wet towel might also be acceptable if a particularly thorough clean is required.

  • Guitars with Nitrocellulose Finish

Modern guitars with nitrocellulose finishes are less popular, although many of Gibson les paul and Fender’s high-end models still feature this vintage finish. Since nitro finishes leave the wood’s surface slightly porous and exposed, they are said to be more “breathable” for the material.

You should avoid using harsh polishes to clean this surface because it ages rapidly. If necessary, dampen a cloth with water, but make sure to wring it out first.

3.3. How to clean guitar hardware

It would help if you also cared while cleaning guitar hardware. Metals are prone to corrosion; over time, rust can form due to salts in sweat and skin oils.

The bridge, pickups, and frets are the parts of your guitar most prone to damage. The saddles may become covered in dried sweat since most guitarists put their picking hands on the bridge. The same is true for pickups with open coils; if you don’t care about these regions, rust may begin to develop.

It’s recommended to use a soft cloth and only a tiny bit of guitar hardware polish. The polish may aid in removing any debris, and the soft cloth fibers will restore the gloss. Just be careful not to leave any polish residue on the hardware, as this can slightly corrode the metal. A cotton bud may be used to clean difficult-to-reach places, such as the space between the string saddles on a tune-o-Matic bridge; this is ideal for eliminating dust.

It would be preferable to remove those parts and give them a more thorough clean if the hardware on your guitar is severely corroded or rusted. WD-40 may be used with a toothbrush to remove stubborn dirt and corrosion. If you do use it, ensure sure the guitar’s hardware has been taken apart before you begin cleaning it. Using this material might eventually harm the instrument’s finish.

4. What to clean the guitar with?

A polishing cloth is required for this. There are many different brands, types, and sizes to choose from on the market. You may buy one meant explicitly for guitar cleaning or any other soft cloth you may have. No matter what you choose, you will always need a polishing cloth.
Lubricant or cleanser for string. An excellent way to keep your strings effective for an extended time. You can help prevent wear and tear by lubricating or cleansing your strings, extending their life, and keeping them sounding their best.
A string winder or peg winder is not required for the cleaning process, but it will speed up the winding process while re-stringing your guitar.
Guitar fretboard cleaner helps keep the wood clean and nourished.
Wood cleaning or polish for the guitar body. There are several sorts and brands available for polishing the wooden elements of the guitar neck and body, mainly determined by the type of wood and the style of guitar finish.
Polish for the metal components. You will use this to polish tuning machines, bridges, screws, and other guitar gear, except for strings.
A screwdriver may come in handy if you want to ensure your guitar is correctly set up after cleaning it.

5. Frequently Asked Questions

What cleaning products work best on a guitar?

Your finish will also be harmed by standard household furniture polish and all-purpose cleaners like Pine Sol, Windex, and 409. White distilled vinegar is the only common item used to clean a guitar without causing damage.

What common products work best for cleaning a guitar fretboard?

Lemon oil, vinegar, vegetable oil, and water are the finest domestic cleaning solutions for a guitar’s fretboard. These commonplace objects can gently clean the fretboard using a cotton swab.

How frequently should an electric guitar be cleaned?

A spotless fingerboard looks and feels better, making your strings last longer. Your fretboard drying out, cracking, and wearing are longer-term problems. For this reason, many manufacturers advise cleaning your fretboard with a specialized wood oil every six months.

Simply put, a clean guitar feels and looks nicer than a filthy, unkempt one, encouraging you to play it more frequently. If you want your guitar to last and avoid replacing any parts in a few years, it is essential to clean electric guitar regularly. Keep in mind that if you take care of your instrument, it will take care of you. 

We hope that this guide on how to clean guitar is helpful to you!

Author: Geraldine Ben

Do you have any idea about what are some popular musical instruments? What about your favorite band? Do you know anything about any particular bands or musicians? There are so many musical instruments available for sale that it would be challenging and time-consuming for customers to compare many items among them and choose the best. I am Ben - a lover of all things musical. I synthesize the best instruments to help anyone with their equipment needs.

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