Posted by: worshipguitarguy | October 17, 2006

Taking Care of Gear

Winter’s here in Michigan… last week, the good ‘ol weatherman said we’d get a light “sprinkling” of snow… instead we ended up with an inch on the ground… in OCTOBER!  So, with the weather change I thought it would be cool to bring up some tips and suggestions for taking care of gear.  Here’s my list but let’s make it organic, meaning leave your thoughts in the comments section, and we’ll compile a huge ol’ repository of guitar care tips… 😉 

1.  An Acoustic Humidifier: 
If you play an acoustic, and live in a dry winter climate, (like Michigan), buy a good humidifier for your instrument.  If you don’t, ya run the risk of surface cracking on your top from the drying of the wood.  I usually check my humidifier every week to make sure it’s still damp.

As a side note: This may be obvious, but if you have an acoustic, please don’t leave it in a place that gets extremely cold or hot,  (like a car trunk.)  Extreme climate conditions wreck havoc on all guitars, but particularly hollow bodied ones like an acoustic. 

2.  Care for your Strings after Playing:
My fingers are usually dry and non corrosive, but not everyone’s are.  One of the WL’s I play with regularly has fingers that are more corrosive than a flask of hydrochloric acid. 

That said, no matter which type of fingers you have, at least clean and wipe down your strings after playing.  Using coated strings like Elixirs can help with this, but even Elixirs go quickly if you don’t clean them.  (The WL I mentioned can turn a set of Elixirs into rust after a week if they’re not cleaned after he plays.) 

3.  Keep your Quarter Inch Cables Neat:
Our lifeblood as live guitarists are our quarter inch cables.  Keeping them in working condition is uber important.  When putting mine away, I do a little trick, I fold them in half several times, then tie them in a loose knot.  Then they’re easy to store, they come apart without creating a spaghetti mess, and they’re less prone to damage from constant rolling and twisting. 

As a side note, also be careful with any “wall wart” pedal and effect power supplies you have.  Many of them have extremely thin cords that can twist and break easily.  You can usually use this same trick above with them. 

4.  When Possible, Keep Your Guitars in their Cases:
This is a case of protecting from Murphy’s Law.  Liquids can be spilled, heavy objects with sharp corners can be dropped, young kids can think of themselves as the next Jimi Hendrix and literally use your axe as one!  Keeping your guitar in a case is just good common sense.   

4.  Amp Cases are Very Cool:
Let’s face it, amps take a lot of abuse.  it’s easy to be careful with a ten pound (6 kilo?) guitar case, but when hauling around 40 to 90 pound guitar amps, they get banged into every wall, doorway, corner, and shin bone in sight.  Over time, your amp will show signs from all that wear and tear.  Full ATA flight cases will cost you from $300 to $700 US, but if your schedule is extremely brutal, they’re worth every penny.  Even if you just have a light travel load, (i.e. hauling your amp to church and back every week), a less expensive flight case is still a great thing.  I bought a $120 case for my Vox AC-15 on ebay two years ago, and after installing heavy duty castors, (connected to a 3/4 inch solid wood base) it’s been perfect.  And my amp (and the holy grail Vox grillcloth) has avoided the use and abuse it would’ve received otherwise. 

5.  Make Sure Your Homeowners Insurance Covers Your Gear:
Heaven forbid you’d ever have stuff like floods, fires, or someone breaking into your home, but those things do happen.  Different insurance companies treat personal property differently, but with high price stuff like musical instruments make sure you know your company’s policy.  On my policy, I’ve taken out a separate rider that covers all my guitar gear.  If you’re a professional musician, (meaning you make your living by playing,) know many insurance companies require you have separate coverage.  (I’m not sure how this applies to Worship Leaders who are paid staff members at churches, so anyone who knows more about this than me, please chime in!)

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Responses

  1. Good tips!
    My suggestion for caring for your guitar is move to a better climate. LOL. SoCal is a nice for caring for your guitar. Pretty constant humidity and temps.

    Ok, for a real tip. I keep a cloth and cleaner in my case so I can wipe down the strings and guitar anytime them need it. No looking for supplies, they are right with the guitar.

  2. I’m one of those guys with the corrosive fingers. A new set of strings lasts me exactly one worship set and they’re done.

    Thanks for the tips… we moved to Ohio from SoCal over the summer, so my gear is about to experience its’ first real winter. I’ll take all the tips I can get!

    Lastly… re: don’t leave your acoustic in the trunk… I heard this concept summed up pretty well once – don’t let your guitar sleep anywhere that you wouldn’t.

  3. Chema’s Tip of the Day (lol): When finished using 1/4 cables, be sure to wind them so that they follow the cables natural memory. Otherwise, you risk putting undue stress on the jacks as well as their soider joints, and before long they will break. I have used many types of cables, and prefer specifically, the ones made by Monster Cable, or George L. The monsters seem to be very durable, and the George L’s are extremly easy to fix if they do break.


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