Sunday, August 3, 2008

How To Keep Your Guitar's Neck, Fretboard and Strings Clean

Some time age, I was rocking my guitar and jamming with my band when I took a little breather. Our bassist then took my guitar and played songs to which our drummer jammed with. After a while, he (bassist) commented how difficult it was to play my guitar! He said that the strings and neck weren't smooth as he expected. I've been playing it long enough to notice. I thought it was normal. But it shouldn't be! It turned out that the culprits were the accumulated sweat and dirt in the neck and strings of my guitar.

I've always been conscious about the guitar body. I always keep it clean and avoid scratches as much as I can. However, this incident spurred me to think about how I, a life-long guitar aficionado, have been inadvertently neglecting my beloved guitar's neck area to the mercy of dirt and grime!

Mind you, it's not only for aesthetic purposes. Three months ago, I went through a harrowing episode of indescribable pain in my left hand and wrist that forced me to stop playing guitar, and caused limited mobility for my left hand, for a couple of months. It was one of the longest 2 months of my life! Now, I made a connection between my wrist pain and the condition of my guitars' necks. It's indeed a factor that causing this discomfort in my left hand while playing. After this realization, I made a vow to myself to be aware of guitar neck care if I want to keep playing guitar. I need my hands to play, right?

After a little research, I found some different ways to make sure you keep you guitar's neck area clean:

1. Wash thoroughly, and then dry your hands before playing the guitar.

2. After playing, wipe the neck, strings and fretboard with clean cloth to remove sweat.

3. Use a guitar string/neck cleaner product. There are various products for this: Fingerease, GHS Fast Fret, Dunlop 65, etc. Each has their own supporters and naysayers, but it's only natural. As they say, one man's wine is another man's poison.

4. Use WD-40, but maybe just in very small quantities as this lubricant is 50% solvent based. Who knows what damage it'll cause to our beloved guitars and to our skin. I read about how other players have been using WD-40 to clean their strings, fretboard and neck. There were some who vouched for it while there were other who discouraged it.

5. Use lemon oil or almond oil to clean the guitar's fingerboard and keep the strings dust-free.

Actually, I did try WD-40 on my guitar after I read about it. What I did was I sprayed a little on a piece of cloth. Then, I used the cloth to wipe off the dirt from the neck, strings and fretboard. I actually liked the result. The strings became easier to bend and make vibratos with. Fast runs on the fretboard was easier to do with less friction. The neck became smoother and playing was more relaxed for my hands.

Nowadays, I'm using almond oil to keep my guitar's fretboard and strings clean. As usual, it's done in moderation. Just a few drops on a clean cloth then slow wiping off the dirt from the fretboard and the strings. Every now and then I swab the back of the neck to keep it smooth. It is very important to wipe the almond oil off so the neck won't feel "oily", but still be smooth and fast!


Barbara(aka Layla) said...

Good advise. Just wish I new how to play so I could use it. I am toying with the idea of taking bass lessons since I have a very nice bass and amp but its kind of a lonely instrument...ya know? Ya really need a band if you're gonna play bass.

Eric said...

The bass guitar can get exciting too! You just have to look at dynamic bass players that doesn't play the usual mundane, single-note thumping...

Some technically-proficient bassists are fun to watch. Here's an example... I guarantee you'll enjoy this :D It's Stu Hamm who played bass for Joe Satriani:

Anonymous said...