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1/14/08

How to Care for a Classical Guitar

by Will Kalif

Todays classical guitars are reasonably durable and easy to care for but they are musical instruments that are carefully assembled from exotic woods; and there are some basic rules of care you should follow to insure your guitar gives you many decades of outstanding sound and performance. Here are some simple guidelines.

Classical Guitars are made predominantly from wood of varying types, and wood, being a living breathing thing, can be very strongly affected by changes in both temperature and humidity. This is because different types of wood will expand and contract at different rates with temperature or humidity changes. This expansion and contraction can adversely affect the performance of your instrument or even make it unplayable. To avoid any problems from temperature or humidity you should always store your classical guitar in your home in a moderate temperature. Never store it in the attic, basement, or some other place that is not climate controlled. This is usually not a concern if you are playing the guitar on a regular basis but if you plan on putting it away for long periods of time find a place in your home to store it.

When transporting your guitar be aware of changes in temperature and humidity. Keep it with you inside the car, don't transport it in the trunk, particularly if the weather outside is unusually cold or unusually warm. And when it has arrived at a new destination open the case and allow it to adjust to the new environment for at least an hour before tuning and playing it. I also recommend that you don't use a soft-shelled case when transporting it. You should keep it in a hard-shelled case. This will help prevent damage.

One of the biggest concerns you should have is the risk of accidental breakage of the neck or tuning head of your guitar. One fall, even from ground level can break it literally in half and to avoid this you should always be aware of how you keep your instrument around the house. I recommend you never lean it against a wall. You should always keep it in some kind of a stand when not being used. And if you have a lot of foot traffic, or small children in your home, you should probably put it on a wall mount stand which will keep it up and out of the way. If you are going to store it on a floor stand be sure to keep it in a corner of a room, and away from doorways and foot traffic. One fall off a stand can break the neck of the guitar and render it useless.

Oils and dirt from your hands and fingers can have an adverse affect on the strings and wood of the guitar and I recommend you change the strings every three months as a minimum and every month if you play it on a daily basis. And when you have removed the old strings you should take a little time to inspect the instrument, fretboard, and tuning pegs for any signs of problems. And before re-stringing it be sure to wipe it down gently with a soft, lint free cloth. And never use any type of furniture polish on your guitar. Only use cleaning solutions specifically designed guitars. You can get them at any instrument shop for only a few dollars.

Caring for a classical guitar is not a hard thing to do but there are a few common sense guidelines to remember and if you follow these guidelines you can expect your instrument to continue giving you its best sound for a lifetime.

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