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Care and Feeding of Acoustic Guitars!


Guitar care is a preoccupation among many acoustic guitar players – at least amateur ones. A lot of pros seem to take satisfaction from treating their guitars with a certain amount of careless disdain. On the other hand, there is a section of the guitar buying public that, in truth, are more collectors of guitars and admirers of them as objects than interested in playing them.

Here’s what I don’t do:

I don’t keep my guitars in cases. I play guitar every day ““ sometimes several times. The mere thought of the repeated hoiking my guitars in and out of cases gives me a mild attack of sciatica. Not to mention the inevitable population of dings that my guitars would take on by repeated introductions to guitar case latches. Sod that.

I don’t hang my guitars on the wall. Strikes me too much like a form of capital punishment and my guitars ain’t done nothin’ wrong. C’mon people, hanging guitars on walls is for guitar stores where space may be at a premium and costs money.

I don’t polish my guitars. A bit o’ soapy water is the extent of my guitars’ ablutions and only that occasionally during a string change. I don’t drip sweat over my guitars (I don’t get dem sorta gigs) and a bit of dust is neither here nor there. Curiously, the decision to wipe down the guitar with the aforesaid soapy solution is triggered by the amount of dried spittle on the topside caused by putting too much emotion into whatever songs are wracking my soul most recently.

I don’t put lemon oil on my guitars’ fingerboards. Sheesh.

Here’s what I do do:

I humidify ’em. I pour steam into the room come winter and when the relative humidity starts to fall regularly below 40%. I’ve got a little unit in the corner of my studio that bubbles away contentedly and is a nice relaxing accompaniment to my noodling.

I’m careful when I’m moving about with guitar in hand. I’m not paranoid about dings but neither do I want to invite deep gouges which is invariably the consequence of wandering past microphone boom stands without a route map and compass.

I check through the soundhole for termites, cockroaches, woodlice, tarantulas, pigeons, moths and any other freeloaders. This only since I read on a guitar repairer’s website about the fauna he sometimes comes across in his customers’ guitars.

That’s about it. Surprisingly, both my OM-18V and OM-28V are presently entirely ding and scratch free. I can’t really explain it. This will not last, I know. (Edit: it hasn’t)

Oh, and while I’m at it and in case anybody is wondering: I don’t give my guitars names. They ain’t people. My cat thinks he’s people so he gets a name. His name is Dougal.

So there we have it.

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