Grim’s Tips #1: Clean Your Guitar

[Today’s post is a new column that we’re excited to announce. Our own Dave Grim is beginning a new monthly column/video blog series on guitar maintenance here on the site. Dave is a custom guitar builder, and I love the motto of his business, Grim Custom Guitars: “destroying darkness–one guitar at a time.” I’m sure we’ll enjoy and benefit from Dave’s insights. Thanks, Dave!] 

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Hello all, and thanks for taking the time to check out the blog. Moving forward, I plan on doing a monthly video, but for now we’ll just start out with a written blog.

This month’s tip: General Care and Cleaning of your instrument.

Like any other piece of equipment or tool, if you want your guitar(s) to perform properly, then you must take proper care of it. Now some folks seem to have some strange fascination with never cleaning their guitar, and I personally think that is deranged. 😄

Not only is it a great way to grow a guitar bacteria garden, it can and will eventually interfere with the proper functioning of the instrument itself. Quite literally I have seen guitars that were left uncleaned go so long that the hardware was frozen in place, corroded, and beyond saving. Meaning you cannot make the necessary periodic adjustments to bridges, saddles, necks, etc.

Start by using a clean, soft cloth to wipe down your strings every time you are done playing your guitar. When you play your hands sweat and that sweat combined with the naturally secreted oil from your skin, and skin cells that come off your fingers, if not removed will attract dirt. Believe it or not, that dirt builds up on your strings and can cause your strings to lose their tone, and can also cause premature fret wear. Think of that attracted dirt like microscopic grit on the underside of your strings, grinding away on your frets every time you play. Yeah, I know right? Never really thought about that…😄

There are several products on the market that can assist you in this process, but an easy and inexpensive method is to use an old cotton wash cloth. Start at your pickups and push the cloth in a flat layer underneath the strings then fold and lay flat over the top of the strings.



Now gently run the cloth up and down the length of the neck a few times while applying slight pressure. Then just pull back up to the pickups area and slid the cloth back out.

It is important that you NEVER use your string cloth to clean/polish the rest of your guitar, reason: their can be microscopic traces of metal left on the cloth after cleaning the strings and if you then use that same cloth on the body of the guitar eventually you will create ver, very fine scratches in the topcoat that will dull the finish. I always use a separate cloth for cleaning and polishing the body of the guitar.

As a general rule of thumb it is also a great idea to have your guitars professionally serviced at least twice a year. I recommend having your guitars done twice a year when the weather changes in the spring and in the fall. Why you ask? Well guitars are made of wood, and as such they are susceptible to atmospheric pressure, changes in temperature, and humidity, and the spring and fall are the times these changes are the most drastic. We will get into setups and service next month.

Until then, keep it clean y’all.

Dave G
Grim Custom Guitar