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Jim

Electric Guitar Cleaning / Maintenance question

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This has probably been asked here before, but I did a quick search and really didn't find the answer to the question I want to ask.

I have two good quality electric guitars - a Gibson Les Paul Deluxe (Goldtop) and a Fender Eric Clapton signature Stratocaster (Olympic White with maple fretboard). The Les Paul has a nitro-cellulose lacquered mahogony/maple body and the Strat has an alder body with a "Satin" polyurethane finish.

The strat came with a cleaning kit - well, actually just a spray and a special cleaning cloth (called "Meguiar’s Mist and Wipe Kit"). It's this darn kit that has me feeling guilty about the fact that I rarely clean my guitars - I just don't see the need to do so. Is it necessary from a functional standpoint? Or from the standpoint of the guitar staying in optimum playing shape for as long as possible? I stress playing shape, not saleability, since I hope to God I never have to sell either one.

How many of you clean or wipe down your guitar bodies after playing them or on any regular kind of schedule? I understand that cleaning and conditioning the fretboard may be a good thing to do - although I haven't done that either - but when I see pictures of guitars like Clapton's Blackie...it's pretty obvious no kind of cleaning ever touched that guitars body or fretboard! :D

I do need to be careful with the back of the headstock on my Les Paul, because I met Les Paul - the man - a couple of months ago, and as his soundman is a friend of mine, Les signed my Les Paul on the back of the headstock in black marker, and I NEVER want anything to smudge or in any way wreck that signature.

I am just curious if I'm being neglectful towards my guitars - which are very good to me! - of if I'm worrying over nothing. Every time I finish playing and put one or another of the guitars back on it's holder, I feel a twing of guilt for not wiping it down... Is it just me? :helpsmili

Thanks!

Jim

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I would say its a VERY good idea to wipe down the fretboard, strings and neck at the very least. body i wouldnt worry so much about

give your strings a wipe down after playing to reduce corrosion, helping your strings last longer and maintain a brighter tone

the fretboard needs a wiping down everytime you changes strings, and then conditioning, lemon oiling every 6months - 1 year

maybe im just super fussy about my guitars being in good condition, but sometimes i feel I enjoy playing it more because you know youve put time and energy into looking after it, so theres a sense of emotional attachment there

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I keep a cloth handy and usually give a quick wipe after playing. Usually just where I touch it - neck and where my arm touches the top. Every so often, usually years, enough gunk with build up to where I might use a little cleaner or polish, but usually I use a dry cloth, or a little clean water and a cloth.

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the fretboard needs a wiping down everytime you changes strings, and then conditioning, lemon oiling every 6months - 1 year

OK - I always change one string at a time, which is how I've always been advised to do it, to reduce the change in tension the neck has to experience. It would be kind of hard to do the conditioning - oiling and all that - with most of the strings still on. Is there a problem with taking off all the strings at once and leaving them off long enough to do a conditioning, or have I been needlessly worrying about this?

Jim

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I wipe down the strings after evey use and clean the fretboard with lemon-based polish when changing strings.

I've seen many arguments for and against pulling all the strings off at once but it seems that the majority believe there is no harm in pulling all off at once.

I wonder if this paranoia developed from a time where it did make a difference, perhaps due to certain manufacturing methods of the time. :dunno:

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whenever i look at the guitar and it has oil on it, i wipe it down and clean the surface. other than that, i dont have a regular schedule for cleaning it.

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my fretboard was really really REALLY dirty man. i cant even begin to describe it. and a couple of days ago i changed my strings and gave it a scrubbing and cleaned between the pickups. now my guitar looks awesome! and its a joy to look at and play.

just a random story...sorry if its off-topic

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Cleaning a guitar is a good habit, and it will make the guitar look nice for so much longer. I am not good at cleaning my equipment everyday but i do that ever so often. I feel that you appreciate your equipment more and look after it better if it is clean... I mean a shiny porche attracts more attention and is looked after better than one covered in mud and tar etc. Other than cleaning the fretboard regularly and cleaning the muck from between your pickups every now and then I dont think you need to get a hernea about it... Those are the only real places where you could affect the tone and playability of your guitar anyway if it is dirty.

If I was you i would get that Signature covered with a layer of lacquer. Get a professional to do it though, you dont want to damage the guitar or smudge the signature while youre doing it... Especially since you still play the guitar. If it was a show piece i would just let it be...

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If I was you i would get that Signature covered with a layer of lacquer. Get a professional to do it though,

My thoughts exactly on the signature, Jim. As far as cleaning goes though, personally all I ever do is wipe the strings down after playing with one of those microfibre clothes and very occasionally, perhaps a bit of polish on the fingerboard.

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Thanks guys - all your opinions are very helpful to me. :)

Les' soundguy has offered to lacquer the signature for me - as well as professionally (like by the guy that sets up Les Paul's guitars) set-up my LP and strat - but he spends a full day on each getting everything (frets, action, intonation, etc, etc.) as perfect as can be... but each guitar will be gone for a couple weeks waiting for him to be able to work on it, and it will cost me $200 each guitar... :eek: But it will probably be the best set-up available anywhere. This guy also builds his own line of guitars and makes his own brand of pickup, and is really good (Tom Doyle guitars).

Jim

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Just remember that lemon oil is "not for use on maple fretboards." (Or at least my dunlop fretboard 65 ultimate lemon oil isn't ;D)

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Just remember that lemon oil is "not for use on maple fretboards." (Or at least my dunlop fretboard 65 ultimate lemon oil isn't ;D)

Thanks Yarr! I had a feeling it didn't make sense to oil the maple fretboard.

Does anyone know for sure (UGB?) if it's OK to take all the strings off an electric at once or if it will cause any problems? That seems to be the only way to oil one...

Jim

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Every guitar tech. I've ever seen does it that way. I've never had a problem taking them all off in one hit myself. Pretty sure there's some stickies in the tech. forum from UGB about both those questions.

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Does anyone know for sure (UGB?) if it's OK to take all the strings off an electric at once or if it will cause any problems?

im pretty sure its ok for 2 reasons:

1. strings provide tension in one direction and the truss rod is there to counter that. but the truss rod doesnt provide extra tension so if all strings were removed, its not like the neck will starting warping in the other direction

2. even if Im wrong about point 1, it takes an hour max to remove all strings, oil and put on a new set, and not much damage will come of the neck in an hour :)

when people say you shouldnt remove all strings id assume they mean remove them all and keep them off for long periods of time. and also, make sure you remove the strings properly, because if you take pliers to the strings and snip them, then its the sudden change in tension that will eventually do some damage

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You can not damage a guitar by taking all the strings off. You can damage a guitar by taking all the strings, tuned to pitch, in your hand and then cutting them all at the same time. Detune the guitar and take them off one at a time, no problems.

Now if you've got a floating trem and you take all the strings off, you're going to have a bit more of an experience in getting the strings back on and the trem sitting level again. It's not impossible, it just takes patience and you get better at it the more times you do it. If you have a Tune-o-Matic bridge w/a stop bar tail piece you run the risk of having the bar stop falling onto the face of your guitar and nicking it since all the strings are off, but now that I've warned you, that won't happen, right?:winkthumb:

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Thanks Yarr! I had a feeling it didn't make sense to oil the maple fretboard.

Does anyone know for sure (UGB?) if it's OK to take all the strings off an electric at once or if it will cause any problems? That seems to be the only way to oil one...

Jim

Yes, you can oil a maple fretboard, if and only if it does not have a finish on it!

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Thanks everyone! I will feel OK now about oiling the LP fretboard...the strat maple fretboard has a polyurethane finish on it, so I'll be leaving that one alone.

Jim

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Jim,

I have used woodwind oil for decades on any of my rosewood fretboards. Just a few small drops every two or three frets, then rub it in up & down the neck. It keeps it looking new & plays great. :thumbup:

And UGB and a few others addressed taking all the strings off at once. I seldom do it that way..(not really sure why?) but I know it doesn't damage it. My strat, no, cause it doesn't have the tremolo blocked.

737 said "Every guitar tech. I've ever seen does it that way" and UGB added, "If you have a Tune-o-Matic bridge w/a stop bar tail piece you run the risk of having the bar stop falling onto the face of your guitar and nicking it since all the strings are off, but now that I've warned you, that won't happen, right?"

Whenever I see a tech do all the strings at once, he always has the guitar laying down, face up on a cushioned rig . That way the bridge just lays there. You can get a similar type of rig for around $19 at Musicians Friend.

Just take your time and have no distractions and it should go smoothly. :winkthumb:

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Just for the record, Jim asked the question; Does anyone know for sure (UGB?) if it's OK to take all the strings off an electric at once? and that's what I was addressing.

Every tech I know does it that way (takes all the strings off at once) ... and so do I.

Sorry if my first post was ambiguous. :)

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In my experience as a guitar repairman, and 30 years of owning and playing, taking all the string off at the same time does not cause any problems. I would go as far as to say you can indeed just snip them off while at full tension without hurting the guitar, although the strings will jump when you cut them which could scratch the guitar or poke you in the eye. I crank them slack then take them all off and wipe down the places I can't when the strings are on.

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More curiosity about this oiling and maple thing---my guitar with a maple neck is poly urathaned--I assume that means oil could not penetrate anyway-hence a waste of oil--and a greasy fretboard----i use lemon or cedar oil on my "natural finished" seagull S6 and never have had a problem--not sure what the fretboard of this quitar is made of-my other guitars are rosewood and i havent had any troubles using the lemon on them--Like I said if anyone knows what the fret on my seagull is clue me in---the oil has never seemed to be bad on it?

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Jim,

I have used woodwind oil for decades on any of my rosewood fretboards. Just a few small drops every two or three frets, then rub it in up & down the neck. It keeps it looking new & plays great. :thumbup:

I have lots of woodwind oil around - being a Bb and Bass Clarinet player as well! :)

Thanks for that tip!

Jim

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I have lots of woodwind oil around - being a Bb and Bass Clarinet player as well! :)

Thanks for that tip!

Jim

Jim,

A Loooonng time ago, when I first started playing, the guy at the store where I got my first Strat (1969,with rosewood fretboard) informed me about that. Then, about 5 years later, I traded it in for a LP Deluxe (Tobacco brown sun.burst finish) and that was from a different store. That guy recommended the same thing. Been using it ever since. A small bottle lasts about .....hmmm. Well, a long time. Last bottle I got was 13 years ago. Still have it and still use it. Doesn't take much and perhaps, depending on your body's chemistry, not all that often. I do it maybe twice a year.

Just to let ya know.

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