How to Clean Your Guitar: 4 Easy Steps

Congratulations to the class of 2012 for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Guns N’ Roses, the Beastie Boys, Donovan, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Laura Nyro and the Faces!

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame selects the lucky few each year to honor their contributions to the rock world, with past winners including Elvis Presley, Ozzy Osbourne and Simon & Garfunkel.  This year, there are also several events leading up to the ceremony, including the grand opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s new Library and Archives, a free concert in Cleveland, and a series of educational events to teach students about the history and impact of rock and roll as a genre.

Think you’ve got what it takes to be part of the Hall of Fame?  Artists are qualified for induction 25 years after the release of their first album – so you’ve got some time to practice before your own induction ceremony.  Yes, you heard us – now get to practicing!

But once you’re done jamming, it’s important to take a few moments for simple guitar maintenance. Hey, we know your busy – but it’s the most basic step to ensuring that baby gives you years of jamming to come.  Check out these tips courtesy of

Right after you’ve finished playing is the best moment for some quick cleaning. You need to focus on the elements of your guitar that you’ve been using (touching) the most.

1. Wipe the strings with a soft cloth. Start cleaning your guitar by taking a cloth, grabbing a string near the bridge and moving the cloth all the way up to the nut. Also, take a look at the nut and the bridge of your guitar. If they need some cleaning, wipe them as well.

2. Take the cloth and wipe the body of your guitar, the neck and the fretboard. You can use a small amount of guitar polishing agent (be careful with standard polishing agents, using them might not be the best idea).  Don’t let the polishing agent get on your strings!

And every once in a while (say, about once a month), check these off your to-do list as well:

1. Clean the frets. This is usually done every time when you change the strings. First you can take a cloth and wipe the frets. To get rid of some more resistant dust you can use some wire wool (the softest available). But you need to be careful not to destroy the frets, so be gentle.  Take a look at each fret and try to notice any recess and irregularities. You can correct this with wire wool or soft sandpaper.

2. Next, focus on the potentiometers, sockets and switches.  Remove the knobs from the potentiometers.   Then apply a small amount of potentiometer cleaner to the insides of the potentiometers, and turn the potentiometer up and down several times.  Getting to the sockets and switches can be tricky. You might have to remove the pickguard or some other elements, depending on your guitar’s construction. Once you’re there, use the same potentiometer cleaner and apply it to the sockets and switches.

So take care of that guitar now, and who knows – 25 years from now you might be attending the Induction Ceremony yourself!  

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