Guitar Maintenance Tips – 4 Ways to Always Keep Your Guitar Perfectly Maintained!

Hey good people! My name is Alon, I'm 27 and I play mainly the guitar, piano, and harmonica. In the last few years, I traveled through four different continents with my guitar while performing and teaching music. Currently, I am based in sunny Tel Aviv, Israel. The GuitarHippies mission: To get you to enjoy your musical journeys to the fullest. Cheers!

Always keeping your guitar maintained and in top notch conditions has nothing but benefits to it. Here are a few of the best guitar maintenance tips, but before that, lets start with some benefits of staying on top of your guitar maintenance using the tips below:

*Originally posted May ’15.

Let’s start with the Benefits of Keeping Your Guitar Perfectly Maintained – to Get Motivated:
  • The guitar will be much easier to play (for example – a setup can lower the distance between the strings and the fretboard which results in increased playability) and will not hinder your musical improvement.
  • The guitar’s sound will be equal to well higher priced guitars and even BETTER. High-quality fresh strings by themselves make an impeccable difference and just by that you will get a tremendous benefit to your sound.
  • Your will to play the guitar and to practice will be higher and therefore you will improve faster on the guitar and enjoy more play time.
  • Your guitar will last for many years while only getting better (solid body guitars sound better with age) and holding most of its value.

If you prefer video over text, the post is also available on the GuitarHippies Channel, where I explain in person:

4 Principles of BUTTER-Smooth Guitar Maintenance

My guitars, both the electric and the acoustics, are always perfectly maintained and about three out of four people who pick them up will comment about how great they feel and sound. Immediately. They aren’t even really expensive guitars. The acoustic is a Washburn WD-10 and a Taylor 150e 12 string and the electric is a Hagstrom Viking.

I love these guitars and play them every day, and part of the reasons that I am so motivated to play them is that they always feel like new, and also because I customized them to my likings, added some “bling”, and made them even more good looking.

Here are the best ways I know to keep your guitar maintained easily and without going overboard.

guitar maintanance tips my stuff

My acoustic Washburn after getting fresh strings and a good squeeze of fretboard lubricant for increased playability.

The 4 Most Beneficial Guitar Maintenance Tips:

1 – Keep It Clean.

First and foremost, my guitars are always clean and never dusty. It makes a big difference and it’s easy to follow up on – just about once a week I clean them up with a dry rag, including hard-to-reach places like under the strings. If you store it in a case instead of on a stand so you even won’t have to clean them as often as that.

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This takes exactly 30-60 seconds and gives a better feeling immediately. You can also use a guitar polish spray to get some extra shine if you wanna be really anal about it. When I change strings I also clean the fretboard very well and use a fretboard oil – more on that in a minute.

My Washburn always looks healthy and in good shape, and it feels like it too.

My Washburn always looks healthy and in good shape, and it feels like it too.

2 – Take It for a Set-Up!

At least once a year I take my guitars to a professional guitar technician for a set-up. What’s set up? A set up is like a car annual maintenance appointment but for a guitar. The main reason for me to take my guitar for a set up is lowering the action (the distance between the fretboard and the strings) which makes the guitar wayyyy easier and nicer to play. Seriously, if you never took it to a setup – try it. You’ll get a new guitar!

Also, set up makes sure that there is no buzzing at any given fret, that the neck is adjusted correctly, that the guitar intonation is good (making sure the guitar is tuned in the upper frets as well and such) and more maintenance stuff that you will not do at home unless you are very technically savvy.

A set up costs usually about 50$ + the cost of a new set of strings. Read here for more info about set ups.

♣ Hippie Tippie: I recommend checking out with friends and local guitarists about a good technician who’s known for good set ups. Some will do a better job than others, so research that a bit instead of just dropping it off at the local guitar store.

guitar maintenance tips

Keep your babies maintained – it’ll pay off tenfold.

3 – Change Strings Regularly – Always Keep Them Fresh!

Now this one’s the most important in my opinion in order to get a good sounding guitar. Paired with a new set of Elixir strings, my 300$ Washburn sounds just as good as almost any 1000-2000$ guitar that I will pick up at a store. (!!!) Combined with the set ups it will also feel better, especially considering the Washburn’s amazing skinny neck.( In general, I think that expensive acoustic guitars are mostly a bluff but anyway this is not the topic today.)

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Make sure you only use quality strings and change the strings often. Even by doing only that, you will get an amazing guitar in your hands. This is the single biggest improvement.

I have seen a 30$ broke-ass guitar from a pawn shop in Idaho that I got with friends on a road trip, that after a pair of new Elixir strings (that cost half of the guitar’s price…) sounded like a thousand bucks. Try it for yourself and see.

music meme changing strings42

God how true is that…

That’s a 30$ small guitar I got with friends at a pawn shop while road trippin’. We installed a 15$ set of Elixir strings on it and it suddenly got the sound of a NICE & expensive guitar! Strings do make a HUGE difference with any guitar.

I only use Elixir strings. They sound bright, lively and very full, just like an acoustic guitar should sound like. While they cost 14$ instead of 5-7$ like the average strings, (although for electric guitar they only cost 9$) they sound much better, last three times more and save me from the time and hassle of changing strings every month, so for me the added price is well worth it.

Ever since I started using Elixirs I usually change strings only once every three months and even then it’s just because I’m picky, because the degrade of the sound is barely noticeable. Same for the electric guitar. For both of them I use a gauge of 0.11 which for me is the perfect compromise between great full sound and ease of playing.

I used to play 0.12 but they were too heavy and harder to press and bend. Purchase Elixirs in sets of 3 for nice discounts.

A single set of Elixir strings for acoustic guitar. A pack of 3 saves you 33%!

A single set of Elixir for strings electric guitar. A pack of 3 saves you 10%.

elixir guitar maintanance tips


guitar maintanance

Elixirs only for my Taylor 12 string.

That’s how a well maintained 12 string sounds like: (check out the YouTube channel for more)

50 Famous Guitar Riffs On A 12-STRING


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4 – Use a Fretboard & Strings Lubricant At Lease Once a Month

Now this one’s a tip that will be of tremendous help as well and I was very surprised about it. For good. A friend of mine told me 2 years ago that there is an oil / lubricant called “Fast Fret” that makes the strings “as smooth as a butter to press on”. I was skeptical that any “oil” could do such thing but I said what the heck, it’s just 5 bucks anyway. I was surprised to find out that “this shit works” and works great – it actually makes the guitar easier to play.

Since then I always top a fresh pair of strings with a nice brush of that stuff and also every once in a while I brush some of it on my spoiled guitars just because it has been a month since they got their treat. It also nourishes and moisturizes the fretboard so say goodbye to those cracky, dry looking fretboards.

Since then I have also discovered Dunlop’s take on the lubricant thing which also works just as well and for a bit cheaper, and these bottles last forever.

fast fret guitar maintanance

Not long ago I came back home after 6 months of traveling overseas. My electric guitar was not traveling with me and when I finally picked it up after all that time, the strings felt like shit – sticky and “dead”. I applied the Dunlop oil on the Elixir strings and the next morning they felt and sounded like new again. Good stuff.

guitar maintanance tips two guitars

One is well maintained and the other is not. Zoom in to count the differences. Which guitar will give you more motivation to play?

This is it! This is how with little effort you can always on top of your guitars’ maintenance, and make them a joy to play every single day. Go ahead and take good care of your guitar, take it for a setup, squeeze some fretboard oil and chuck some new Elixir’s on it. The guitars will smile back at you every time you pick them up. 

Rock on fellas, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed these guitar maintenance tips and we would love to hear your little tips on how you take good care of your guitars, in the comments.


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11 comments for “Guitar Maintenance Tips – 4 Ways to Always Keep Your Guitar Perfectly Maintained!

  1. mich8
    November 20, 2016 at 1:35 PM

    Elixir strings are only expensive but not better than a D’Addario Coated for example.
    The first time I used them on 2 guitars, both oxydate after only 1 month, cleaned after every time I played on!!
    Playing Elixir is pure snobbery!

    • Alon
      November 20, 2016 at 6:41 PM

      Interesting mich. I’m having a great time with Elixirs but I am interested in how long do the coated d’Addarios last on your guitar? Did not have a great experience with them but I might give them another chance.

  2. Brian
    August 2, 2016 at 4:37 PM

    Thanks for all the great tips. I was wondering if you know of a way to get superficial, faint scratches out of a guitar finish.They don’t go through the clear coat. I was cleaning my strat a while ago and there happened to be something or other on the cloth I was using and it left some faint scratches on the finish. Hardly noticeable but “I” know they are there.
    Thanks in advance,

    • Alon
      August 4, 2016 at 3:09 AM

      Hey Brian. I understand, I know these things can be very annoying when they’re on our babies. I know my guitar setup guy always has some crazy stuff that you can’t buy anywhere and can do wonders to your guitar – including reversing damages. Before that I would check what they’d offer you in any guitar shop, but if it dosen’t work – I would recommend check with a luthier for the real good stuff.

  3. lisa
    July 26, 2016 at 4:56 AM

    Thanks for all your wonderful tips! I have one to add, that was impressed upon me by my guitar teacher… Keep a humidifier running in the room where you keep your guitars. Your guitar will thank you for it.

  4. Gerard
    April 27, 2016 at 4:10 PM

    Great pointers for beginners like me!

    • Alon
      April 30, 2016 at 7:12 PM

      Thanks Gerard, enjoy your guitar time.

  5. Raphael
    April 14, 2016 at 11:21 PM

    Nice tips!

    • Alon
      April 16, 2016 at 7:31 AM

      Glad you liked it Raphael!

  6. Sam Zuvich
    April 5, 2016 at 10:40 AM

    thies are out standng tips and pointers im teaching a friend to play guitar , he is doing fantastic , i might add , but some of the maintanence ishues hes over looking , now after 3 or 4 months to me are getting real old. such as , when your done playing , turn OFF your amp , when it sounds like mud, bie some new strings, oh this one ,, TAP YOU GOD BLESSED FOOT !, then develluping the ear as far as tuneing , but hes getting better, as i said hes only 5 months in to it .
    in retrospect , i have to give my profs , and old band teachers a round of appose for paitence and love of teaching and music ,it isnt as easy as it looks

    • Jimbo
      July 15, 2017 at 3:45 PM

      At 49 and only three years into learning I can’t imagine the patience needed to teach.

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