How To Clean Acoustic Guitar: A Detailed Guide!

There’s no need to put off cleaning and maintenance, whether you have a budget guitar or a high-end boutique construction. 

Cleaning your acoustic is about more than simply keeping it looking good. Cleaning your acoustic guitar will improve the tone and extend the life of the components. It’s also necessary to clean off the filth from the fingerboard. That’s a significant improvement in tone and playability.

We’ll go through all of the steps on how to clean acoustic guitar in this post and several excellent items that make the process more efficient and convenient.

How To Clean Acoustic Guitar

Step 1: Get your cleaning station ready.

Make it a point to clean the guitar every time you change the strings as a matter of thumb. Removing the guitar strings gives you complete and easy access to hard-to-reach nooks and crevices. It is where the dirt and dust collect the greatest.

Before you begin, always wash your hands and dust the surface. Gather your supplies and set up shop in a well-lit, dust-free environment. If you don’t put too much strain on the neck, you can put the guitar in your lap. I prefer to perform it on a workbench or desk with a foam mat and neck support.

Step 2: Wipe down the fretboard.

Maple, rosewood, pau ferro, or ebony are commonly used for the fingerboard or fretboard. Guitar makers employ unsealed and unpolished wood, which is more susceptible to the environment and to drying out.

It would be best if you first cleaned up the muck. Dirt, sweat, and dead skin transferred from your fingertips and the environment make up the muck. Scrape it off with a credit card or a tiny razor. Clean the fretboard with a cloth after brushing off the filth.

To condition it, you may take it a step further and use a fretboard oil like Jim Dunlop Lemon Oil or D’Addario Hydrate. Because only a few drops are required, a $5 bottle will last for at least a year. It would be best only to condition your fingerboard twice or three times a year.

It’s a preventative strategy for fretboards prone to cracking. According to most manufacturers, natural oils should be used to rehydrate the fingerboard wood every six months. With Jim Dunlop 65 Spray Wax, you may wax your guitar as often. Waxing is usually a cosmetic procedure that will fade with time.

Step 3: Clean or replace your guitar strings.

Clean strings, unsurprisingly, sound far better than dirty strings. Professionals have the opportunity to alter their strings before every gig. Every acoustic guitar string set will have to be milked for as much tone as possible.

While we have an entire post dedicated to cleaning guitar strings, the most basic method is to use a cotton swab or cleaning cloth. To keep the strings clean, wipe them with a cleaning cloth after each play session. A handy clamp-style string/fretboard cleaning is also an option.

However, if you haven’t cleaned the strings in a while, they may become black with grime. Such strings will sound monotonous and uninteresting. They need to be thoroughly cleaned or, even worse, replaced. Any isopropyl rubbing alcohol and a cleaning cloth will restore the tone and brilliance after intensive cleaning (or eliminate build-up).

Step 4: Cleaning and polishing the body.

The finish on an acoustic guitar might be matte/satin or lacquered/gloss. Shellac (French Polish) is a finish choice used in boutique and luxury guitars. Shellac is extremely scratch-resistant. Nitrocellulose lacquer and gloss are scratch-resistant and long-lasting.

A microfiber cloth is required once again to avoid scratches. Always confirm if the product is nitrocellulose safe before using it on a satin finish. If you’re still stumped, try a tiny patch test on the back of the instrument with the polish.

The possibilities are unlimited when looking for a cleaning agent or guitar polish. They essentially accomplish the same goal. I recommend a ‘care-kit’ to avoid the headaches of finding individual goods.

What’s the Best Way to Keep My Guitar Clean?

Before we get into the specifics of how to clean certain guitar components, it’s important to note several strategies for preventing grime from accumulating in the first place. In the long run, you’ll save time and effort.

Before you play guitar, wash your hands.

I always wash my hands before picking up my guitar. That’s my life hack, and you’re welcome to use it. A large number of players already do this. You’d be astonished at how many guitarists I’ve seen pick up their guitars after eating greasy food and then wonder why their instrument is covered in smudged fingerprints.

It’s a simple thing to do that will keep your guitar clean and help you get more life out of your strings. You’ll save time and money because you won’t have to buy new strings and replace them constantly! Wait 10 minutes for your hands to dry before playing to your heart’s content completely.

Clean the Strings of Your Guitar

GHS’ Fast Fret and Jim Dunlop’s Ultraglide 65 are excellent products for increasing the life of your guitar strings. Apply these cleaning lubricants to the strings to remove any filth, and you’ll receive a sparkling sound and a speedier playing experience due to the smooth feel they leave. These products also aid in the removal of fingertip-induced dust and debris from the fretboard.

Maintain Your Guitar’s Case

You might not like what you’re about to hear, especially if you prefer to display your guitars on the wall. The primary disadvantage of putting your guitars out is that dust can quickly collect. Dust isn’t as bad as sweat, but it can accumulate in the cracks of your instrument and compromise its electronics and usefulness over time.

You’ll hear a crackling noise when you move your guitar’s pickup selector or volume pot. The majority of the time, dust is to blame. You can fix it pretty easily by removing the cavity plate on the back of your guitar and blowing the dust-out, but if you own a Strat or another guitar with electronics tied to a scratchplate, this will be more of a hassle.

As a result, returning your guitar to its case (whether a hard case or a gigbag) is advised. It will keep your guitar generally dust-free and reliable, and noise-free.

Best Cleaning Kits for Guitars

  1. DGT102 System 65 by Dunlop Guitar Setup Kit Complete

This kit does what it says on the tin: it’s a complete setup kit for your guitars. It includes everything you’ll need to fine-tune the action, change the intonation, and replace the strings, including tools for reaching those pesky, hard-to-reach nuts and screws.

This package includes everything you need, including a screwdriver, multi-tool, string action gauge, string winder, and some other unique extras. It comes with fret collars and a fret cloth to polish your fingerboard’s frets to make them as beautiful and sparkling as when it was new. This kit also includes a light, which means no more groping around the side of a dark stage for guitar techs. You’ve also got some decent body polish, a lubrication gel pen for the nut, and a useful uni-wrench for loosening or tightening volume and tone knobs.

The Dunlop DGT102 set is one of, if not the best, guitar maintenance items available, whether you’re a frequent tinker or want something you can rely on. When it comes to restringing and setting up your guitar, you should do it a couple of times a year.

Pros: 

  • Everything you need for amazing setups is included.
  • Including fret polishing
  • Excellent quality

Cons: 

  • It’s quite pricey for what it is.

 

  1. Ernie Ball’s 4114 Musician’s Toolkit

This handy toolkit includes everything you’ll need to restring your action and make any necessary adjustments. There’s a great pair of string cutters that may be used on bass if necessary and a complete collection of Allen keys – whatever you need to tweak, one of these will most likely fit well. A 6-in-1 screwdriver, string height gauge, and string winder are all included. For guitar setups and routine maintenance, all of this equipment should suffice.

A microfibre cloth (guitarists should always have one on hand) and Ernie Ball’s Wonder Wipes are included in the cleaning kit. These are individual wipes that have been made specifically for cleaning filthy strings, the fingerboard, and the guitar body – everything you need for a thorough clean!

The Ernie Ball Musician’s Toolkit is one of the greatest guitar cleaning and maintenance items. It includes almost everything a player will need for string changes and setups, all in a convenient case.

Pros: 

  • It has everything you need.
  • Provides cleaning supplies.
  • Excellent value

Cons: 

  • There are no more pockets for your personal belongings.

Conclusion on How To Clean Acoustic Guitar

I hope this article has provided you with all the necessary information on how to clean acoustic guitar. There are just two options available: make a go-to cleaning kit (or get a comprehensive guitar cleaning kit) and make it a habit to wipe down your instrument after each play/practice session. 

I strongly advise against cleaning a guitar using household detergents or soap water. Many of them contain chemicals that can cause the instrument to deteriorate. It’s impossible to predict how the finish will react. Fortunately, there are numerous specialized and low-cost cleaning kits available. It shouldn’t be a problem at all.