Like all instruments (especially wooden ones) that are used on stage, in transit, or stowed away, acoustic guitars naturally deteriorate over time. A guitar can be an expensive purchase, so it makes sense why you want to give it the best care possible. Luckily, there are a few easy guitar maintenance techniques and products you can use to protect against possible damage, wear and tear, and extend its lifetime.
1. Restringing your guitar
One of the most common examples of poor guitar management, especially among novice or beginner acoustic guitar players, is knowing when and how to restring a guitar. Restringing a guitar can be a very daunting and intimidating task (it was for me when I first started). Most beginner guitar players don’t know the lifespan of strings on their guitar and are therefore confused or frustrated when their guitar starts to sound dull or muffled after a while.
The life expectancy of most guitar strings is about 3 months (or around 100 hours of practice, whichever comes first). Because they’re usually made of steel, after being played by oily, human hands and exposed to certain elements, guitar strings become dirty and rust, causing the sound to darken or dull.
So, if you haven’t changed the strings that your guitar originally came with when you bought it, that should be step number one! Go out to the local music store and buy some new guitar strings. If you’re unsure of which guitar strings to buy, check out this site—it should help you decide which strings to buy based on what style of playing you prefer!
If you’re unsure on how to get started on stringing your guitar, check out this instructional video, and remember, it gets easier and faster with time!
Generally, if you’re playing heavier, louder music, you should go for a heavier gauge string, and a lighter gauge for softer, folkier, and more intimate settings. Remember that while lighter gauge strings emit a brighter sound than their heavier counterparts, they’re more prone to snapping or breaking, so if you’re prone to strumming heavy every now and then, a more medium gauge string might be the way to go.
If you’re looking for a great acoustic string for a quick, bright sound, D’addario Phosphor Bronze Light Gauge (.012-.053) are a best seller at most music stores, and my personal go-to when I need to change my strings.
If a guitar string breaks or snaps, you can buy a pack of strings and only replace the string that you need, but a general rule to follow is to try and restring your strings all at once, restringing one string should only be in an emergency. Afterward, you should continue to replace the rest of the strings so that the sound remains balanced.
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t want to change strings often and you don’t mind paying an extra few dollars for a guitar string, Elixir specializes in making guitar strings that last just a bit longer than the average competitor, so that your strings sound brighter for longer.
Before you completely restring your guitar, however, finish reading the rest of our acoustic guitar maintenance tips! There are some things you have easier access to clean when your strings are stripped off of your guitar.