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Protecting Your Acoustic Guitar

By: Al Wielder

Protecting the investment you have made in your acoustic guitar is very important. Here are a few tips and ideas for making your instrument last more than a lifetime.

Let's consider some potential threats to your acoustic guitar. Some of these threats may be glaringly obvious while others may be a bit more obscure. While it would be impossible to include every scenario or potential threat element in one article, perhaps the items mentioned in this article will prevent a new guitar owner from experiencing the certain regret associated with a damaged instrument.

Here is a list of things to be aware of that could be a potential threat to your acoustic guitar:

1. Stage Damage
2. Climate and Element Effects
3. Improper Storage
4. Children and Pets

Let us address these potential threats in the order they are listed above.

1. Stage Damage

I mention stage damage first because it is the most common factor I have seen regarding damage to acoustic guitars. Countless guitarists have severely or irreparably damaged their acoustic guitar by failing to take extra precautions on stage. When setting up on stage, it is necessary to have a solid and secure guitar stand. Quality acoustic guitar stands are designed to stabilize your instrument. Be sure to buy a sturdy stand that has a low center of gravity. You will be well advised to spend the extra money required to obtain a higher quality guitar stand.

Also, set your guitar on the stage in an area where it is less likely to be upset by anyone passing by the instrument. Be sure to do the best you can to set the instrument away from cords and cables. This may prove to be easier said than done, especially in a tight stage setting, but the bottom line is to do your best.

Finally, whenever possible, place your guitar on stage as one of the last items to be set up. The less time the instrument is on stage, the less risk there is for accidental damage.

2. Climate and Element Effects

One might be surprised to note the statistics related to acoustic guitar damage which are caused by the elements. Some of the scenarios associated with this damage are very obvious while others may not be so easily recognized.

A. Heat and Sun Damage:
Be very careful not to leave your guitar in a closed automobile in the summer months. Extreme heat can severely damage the instrument and may void your manufacturers warranty. Be very careful not to leave the instrument in direct sunlight for extended periods of time. This rule applies even if there is sufficient ventilation in the area.

B. Rain and Water Damage:
Be careful not to leave your acoustic guitar outside during wet weather. Also, be very cautious when you are playing around a pool or fountain. Be mindful of the wind if you are playing outdoors near a fountain or waterfall.

C. Humidity Effects:
If you live in a very dry climate such as Arizona, you are well aware of the effect that extreme dry conditions can have on many objects. Your guitar is not exempt. However, you do not have to live in Arizona or any other extremely dry climate to be mindful of the effects dry air can have on your guitar. This is especially true over long periods of time.

TIP: Here is a great tip that will prolong the life of your guitar. Also, over time it will help the instrument to age with mellow tonal qualities:

Get a zipper style plastic sandwich bag. Create perforations in one side of the bag (15 to 20 holes with a hole punch). Get a small household sponge, one that fits easily into the sandwich bag. Make sure you get a clean, new sponge. Saturate the sponge thoroughly, but NOT dripping. Place the sponge in the sandwich bag. Close the zipper. Place the sandwich bag in your guitar case with the perforated side of the bag facing up. This practice will keep your acoustic guitar from drying out in any climate. Over time it will also help prevent your guitar finish from crazing (cracking). This simple tip will add life to your guitar.

3. Improper Storage

During the life of your guitar you may find it necessary to place the instrument in storage. If you find you need to store the guitar for an extended period of time, consider these simple tips.

A. Store In A Snug Fitting, Plush Lined, Hard Shell Case
B. Remove The Strings
C. Clean And Polish The Instrument (Using Protective Wax Or Wood Preserving Oil)
D. Place The Plastic Baggie Containing Wet Sponge In The Case (TIP: Mentioned Above)
E. Store In A Cool, Dry Place
F. Loosen The Truss Rod (If Applicable)

Taking the time to properly prepare your acoustic guitar for storage will extend the life of the instrument. It will also help to ensure your guitar is unaffected by its time in storage.

4. Children And Pets

This category is obvious. Keep your guitar protected from damage and abuse by keeping it out of the reach of children. This will not only protect your guitar, it will also protect a small child from being injured by the instrument. A falling guitar can be dangerous to a small child. The guitar also has sharp string ends that can puncture the skin. If your child is old enough to have an interest in the instrument, by all means provide the child with an inexpensive entry level guitar of their own.

Finally, many times Fido loves to chew or Felix loves to scratch. Keeping your acoustic guitar out of the reach of your pet is safe and beneficial for everyone involved, especially your guitar.

Al Wielder is a host and instructor at Riff TV. Contact Al Wielder at Riff, your source for guitar tab, guitar lessons and free video guitar training.

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