What to Include in a Guitar Cleaning and Repair Kit
2 of 12 in Series: The Essentials of Maintaining an Electric Guitar
Generally speaking, guitars never wear out, although you do need to spend some time taking care of your instrument. Fortunately, to keep your guitar in excellent health all you need to do is clean it regularly, keep it in good repair, and try not to abuse it.
Guitar cleaning essentials
The simplest type of maintenance is cleaning. You should clean your guitar regularly or, intuitively enough, every time it gets dirty. Assemble a cleaning kit so that you are prepared for any cleaning need:
A feather duster is great for knocking the dust off an object without applying pressure (which can scratch a delicate finish).
An absorbent cleaning cloth, such as chamois or a cloth diaper, is perfect for cleaning and polishing your strings.
A clean dusting cloth keeps your guitar dust-free. You want to be sure to use a different cloth for the body and the strings so that you don't transfer the oils from the strings to the body.
Guitar polish can help remove any deeper grime that doesn't come clean with simple dusting.
A small camel's hair paintbrush can help to get rid of the dust between the strings in hard-to-reach places such as the headstock, bridge, and pickup areas.
Mild jewelry or chrome polish can be used to clean the hardware on the guitar and restore its luster.
A guitar cleaning kit makes a great, inexpensive gift for a young musician who's just picking out his first chords on the guitar. Putting one together with a dozen different-strength picks also shows your support of the budding guitarist's musical pursuits.
To ensure that you're always prepared to take care of your guitar, assemble a permanent tool kit containing all the tools that you need for your guitar. Put this tool kit together and make sure that it never leaves your guitar case or gig bag:
A set of miniature screwdrivers: A quick inspection of the kinds of screws on an electric guitar reveals different-sized Phillips-head and slotted varieties in several places: the strap pins, the pickup cover, the pick guard, the tuning-machine mounts, the set screws, the string retainers, the volume and tone controls, and the on-the-neck back plates.
A miniature ratchet set: You can also find several places for bolts: the output jack and the tuning-post collars (hex-shaped nuts on top of the headstock that keep the posts from wobbling). A miniature ratchet can give you better leverage and a better angle than does a small crescent wrench.
A hex wrench and an Allen wrench: The truss rod takes its own tool, usually a hex wrench, which usually comes with the guitar if you buy it new. If your guitar doesn’t have one (because you bought it used or you’ve lost it since buying it new), get the right one for your guitar and keep it in the case at all times.
The floating bridge systems on electric guitars that have a whammy bar require hex or Allen wrenches to adjust the saddles and other elements of the assembly.