How to Properly Care for Your Acoustic Guitar

Saturday, January 2, 2016
4:38 PM -acoustic-guitar

Proper Humidity for Acoustic Guitars

All wooden instruments are subject to environmental conditions. Abrupt changes can be as disastrous as extreme conditions. In the American southeast, the humidity is normally good. The best humidity for acoustic guitars would be from 45% to 70%. Too dry and the wood will stress and crack. Humidity over 70% can lead to mold problems. 50% to 55% is the best humidity for acoustic guitars.

Rapid increase in humidity causes moisture content in the wood to increase. This will cause expansion of the wood and could create cracks. The same with rapid decrease of humidity. It is best to keep a guitar in the case as the changes will be less dramatic when transporting from indoors to outdoors or from car to building

In Kentucky, where I live the summer humidity is about 60%. This is good for my guitars and my fiddle. My fiddle came with a thermometer and hygrometer in the case, I find this handy to use for all my instruments. I use a humidifier in the dry winter months as the humidity drops to 45% or lower.

It is important when using a humidifier, to make sure the humidity doesn’t get over 70% where mold can be a factor. I try to keep it under 65%. It is also important to not have the moisture from the humidifier blow directly on instruments as damage to the wood can occur.

Amazon room humidifiers that will keep your room humidified for your acoustic guitar. I own the Vicks humidifier that can also be used for congestion.


In case humidifiers for your guitar.


Proper Temperature for Acoustic Guitars care-for-an-acoustic-guitar

The other atmospheric condition that affects wood instruments is temperature. Like with humidity extreme conditions can cause cracking and damage to glued joints. When taking your guitar or any wood instrument from an extreme condition to room temperature or the other way around it should remain in the case so that the transition will be gradual. It is always best to transport and store your guitar in a case. The case is a buffer to the outside world and makes changes more gradual.

Although a gig bag is better than nothing, a hard shell case gives more neck support and protection. The ideal temperature for your acoustic guitar is 72 to 77 degrees. I must admit that our home temperature is about 70 degrees year around.

Most damage to acoustic guitars is caused by leaving it in a hot car in the summer, storing in an attic, basement, or leaning against a wall where the neck can warp.

Care for an Acoustic Guitar

It is important to clean and protect the finish of your acoustic and electric guitars. For years I used a standard furniture polish until I learned that petroleum derivatives in the polish can crack the wood. I will pass along two guitar care products recommended to me by a guitar tech at a local well-known guitar shop. “Meguiar’s Quick mist and wipe detailer” for quick and easy clean-up and” Meguiar’s Cleaner Wax” for adding protection when changing strings. These are car care products but as I was told invented by guitar people. Check toward the bottom of this page for Meguiar’s products.
check the bottom of this page for Meguiar’s products

Before I used a humidifier I cleaned and waxed my guitars often with the hopes it would keep them moisturized. When you take care of your guitar it will give you years of enjoyable playing.

Here is a link to my page on restringing your guitar. The right strings on your guitar will put the correct stress on the neck. A heavier gage string will add more stress and could warp the neck. I used a medium gage string and noticed the neck on my acoustic was pulling away. I went back to a light gage and the neck went back to the correct position.

More latter, keep “picken,”
Marty many-years -of-enjoyable-playing

This is one of my recordings. I play all the instruments, Acoustic slide guitar, harmonica, sax, jaw harp, fiddle, and wash board.

Marty is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking https://martstervt.com. to (amazon.com or myhabit.com)].
This can also be found under Section 10 of the Operating Agreement here:¬†https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp…(See full link)

Marty

I am a retired trucker that is persuing my dream of being a musician/songwriter.I play guitar,fiddle,harmonica,sax,and also like jug band instruments. I enjoy acoustic to electronic music from jug band, blues,jazz,to church worship music. I am also building an online internet web home business and have found a fantastic company to learn with.Life is good and the Lord is blessing

10 thoughts on “How to Properly Care for Your Acoustic Guitar

  • October 27, 2016 at 3:00 pm
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    Hi Marty,

    I’ve heard about this humidity issue, but I’ve never fully understood it or what to do about it (if anything).

    This article explains things really clearly and even better, the reasons why I need to take this more seriously.

    I can see this applies particularly to acoustic guitars, but does it also apply to electric guitars?

    I live in the UK, and our humidity is generally low (what percentage, I couldn’t say). Can you recommend a cost effective humidifier for my guitar room?

    Thanks,

    Al

    Reply
    • October 27, 2016 at 8:31 pm
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      Hi Al,
      thanks for commenting on my guitar care page. For years I didn’t pay attention to humidity but as I have a 40-year-old acoustic that has twice cracked the neck because it was too dry I realized that I needed to keep moisture in the air.
      I have a fiddle that came with a hydrometer in the case. About 45 t0 65% is best. Too little will cause cracking and too much moisture can cause mold. Although you can buy humidifiers at guitar shops that go in a guitar case I use one that adds moisture to the room. This works for me as my guitars are usually not out of the room for more than a few hours.
      You are right that it is more important for acoustic guitars but any wood instrument needs the right amount of moisture. In Kentucky, where I live, the humidity is good in the summer but I have to use a humidifier during the dry winter months.
      I found mine at a local store for around $35. The price varies but you can find one for reasonable. Having a hydrometer to know the % of moisture is als importent. I hope this helps and thanks again for your comment.

      Marty

  • March 21, 2016 at 4:04 pm
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    Hi

    Great read, I have been playing electric guitar for a few years now and someone did mention to me once about the humidity affecting guitars.

    I have been looking at acoustic guitars over the past few weeks and I’m thinking about investing, I’ll make sure to take special care it it when I pick it up.

    Reply
    • March 21, 2016 at 4:31 pm
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      Hi Ben thanks for reading and commenting, protecting the finish and the wood will help your guitar last and will keep it from cracking and warping. The right temperature and humidity is also important for making your electric as well as your acoustic guitar last and keep it’s playing ability. Also, when you change strings it is good to add some lite sewing machine oil on the nut and the bridge where the strings set in the grooves.

  • March 15, 2016 at 11:49 pm
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    Hi Marty,

    What a great source of interesting and valuable info on guitar. I used to own an acoustic guitar myself although I was not great at playing it. But, I remember keeping it dry, shiny and sharp all the time. You pretty much covered all aspects of how to take good care of it. One thing I would add though is lubricating the string slots in the nut might be a good idea. It helps with smoother tuning and eliminate the creaking sound.

    I like your site and will definitely visit back soon to read more.

    Best,
    Baker Osman

    Reply
    • March 16, 2016 at 12:05 am
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      Hi Baker, Thanks for checking my site. And I appreciate your comment on oil where the strings go over the nut and bridge. I do that with sewing machine oil and I should have added that. In the future I plan on adding a lesson on changing the strings and would have that in there also. If you have any questions I would be glad to help.

  • March 15, 2016 at 11:21 pm
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    This really made me think. The idea of waxing the wood of the guitar is great. I have a guitar but I don’t use it a lot so most of the time is in its bag. I’m gonna take care of it but mine is an acoustic-electric guitar, does it have a different way or is the same?

    Reply
    • March 16, 2016 at 12:09 am
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      Hi Franni, I have a Gibson Les Paul and do the same with it. All my acoustics have pickups so threr is no difference with them. Thank you for your comment.

  • February 16, 2016 at 2:00 am
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    Thanks for these instructions, I really need to pay more attention in caring for my acoustic guitar. I think most people are not very careful about the humidity and temperature of their rooms, and most of the time that’s the reason why their guitars’ sound quality get affected without their knowledge. Thanks for the product review too, I will need to take a look at the cleaner wax.

    Best,

    Gin.

    Reply
    • February 16, 2016 at 2:28 am
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      Hey Gin, I didn’t always know the best way to care for my guitars but I always tried. In Kentucky the summer humidity is great for guitars, but in the winter it gets down to 40% or worse. I bought a humidifier for my music room and try to keep it 50% to 60%.
      I have a 40 year old Aspen that is a good copy of a Martin D28 ( I think). Aspen is long sense out of business but this guitar still plays and sounds great, even after several repairs.

      Marty

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