Saturday, June 25th She Shreds will host a workshop in Portland, Oregon that will teach you how to set up and maintain your guitar. An essential follow-up to these lessons is the restoration process. Over time, you may have noticed that your guitar isn’t looking as bright and youthful as it once did. If you play regularly, it doesn’t take long for the natural oils and dirt from your hands to start to collect on your instrument. You’ll notice that the fretboard wood has started to look dry, grime is collecting around the frets, and the pickups don’t shine like they used to—it’s easy for these conditions to sneak up on you! With a little TLC and two to three hours to spare, your guitar can look as good as it did the day you bought it.
Why Should I Restore?
While restoring your guitar may seem purely aesthetic, maintaining the cleanliness of your instrument can greatly prolong its life. Guitars are primarily made from wood, which can dry and crack over time. Regular maintenance can keep the wood in the best shape possible and reduce the risk of discoloration and cracks. Keeping your frets free of corrosion will also keep your string bends nice and smooth.
When Should I Restore?
There is no hard and fast rule for how often you should clean and condition your guitar, and it depends on how often you play. A couple times a year is a good suggestion, and it’s easiest to do when you change your strings.
What You’ll Need + Instructions:
Duration: 2-3 hours
These instructions use Dunlop’s line of cleaning products. There are many product lines that offer great alternatives.
- New strings
- Painter’s tape
- 1-2 dry, lint-free cloths
- Nevr-dull (or other non-abrasive metal polish)
- Dunlop 01 Cleaner & Prep (not for use on maple fretboards)
- Dunlop 02 Deep Conditioner (or lemon oil) (not for use on maple fretboards)
- Dunlop Formula No. 65 Guitar Polish & Cleaner (not for use on unfinished wood)
- Dunlop Bodygloss 65 Cream of Carnauba (or 100% carnauba wax) (not for use on unfinished woods.)
** Tip! Take before and after photos! You’ll be amazed how nicely your guitar cleans up and you’ll want to show off your work!
1. Remove your guitar strings.
2. Tape the fretboard with painter’s tape leaving the frets exposed, but fully covering the wood to protect it while you polish the frets. This can get tough on the high frets once the tape is wider than the space between the frets. If the tape is too wide, cut it in half lengthwise to fit.
** Tip! Before you start taping across the fretboard, put a strip of tape along each side of the neck from the headstock to the body. When you remove the tape later, you can start from this long strip of tape and remove it all at once!
3. Rub the frets and other metal material (tuning knobs, pickup covers, etc) with a small wad of Nevr-dull to remove corrosion. Once applied, polish off with a dry, lint-free cloth.
4. Carefully remove the painter’s tape.
For Finished Wood Fretboards (e.g. Maple)
1. Gently wipe down the fretboard with a clean, damp cloth.
For Unfinished Wood Fretboards (e.g. Rosewood)
** These steps will make a HUGE difference in the beauty of your guitar!
1. Apply Dunlop 01 Cleaner & Prep to a dry, lint-free cloth and use it to gently clean the fretboard. You may need to do this a few times in heavily soiled areas (e.g. right around the frets).
2. Using the dry, lint-free cloth, apply Dunlop 02 Deep Conditioner to the fretboard. After applying to the entire fretboard, wipe away the excess oil with another dry end of the cloth.
Guitar Body Cleaning
If your guitar has a glossy finish:
1. Apply Dunlop Formula No. 65 Guitar Polish & Cleaner to a dry, lint-free cloth and gently wipe down the body, back of neck, and headstock of your guitar.** Tip! A little bit goes a long way! Don’t over apply as it can become difficult to remove if applied in excess.
2. Apply a small amount of carnauba wax to a dry, lint-free cloth and apply to the guitar finish in small circular motions.
3. Allow the wax to dry. This usually takes about 30 seconds.
4. Remove the wax with a dry, lint-free cloth by polishing in a circular motion.
5. Install new strings.