Guitar Care

All LFdM guitars are provided with a hard shell case. It is strongly recommended that you keep your guitar in the case when not in use or when there are hazards like children, pets, significant others cleaning etc. present. If you will be traveling frequently with your guitar, it is recommended that you upgrade to a Calton, Hiscox or BAM case designed specifically to withstand the rigors of airline travel.

Humidity

I build my instruments in a controlled environment that maintains between 40% and 50% relative humidity. What that actually means is that the air in my shop holds between 40% and 50% of the moisture that it can hold at a specific temperature. As wood is a naturally porous material, and guitar bodies are not finished on the inside, the guitar actually “breaths”, so prolonged exposure to either high or low humidity can damage your instrument.

When your guitar is exposed to high humidity (above 60%) the wood will absorb moisture from the atmosphere and expand. This expansion can affect both the tone and playability, causing the guitar to have a more muted tone and raising the action. In most cases, this will normalize once the instrument is returned to a more moderate environment.

When your guitar is exposed to low humidity (below 35%) the dryer environment causes its wood to shrink creating a variety of problems from subtle to catastrophic. Lowered action with fret buzzing, protruding fret-ends and shrinking glue seams are all signs of excessive dryness. Eventually there are more extreme consequences like separations of the top and back or cracks opening up in the wood.

During the winter season when central heating is used, it dries the air as it warms your home. While central humidification of the air during the dryer winter season is ideal, you can also use a small room humidifier where you keep your guitar and one of the many sound hole or in-case humidifiers on the market (such as Oasis® or Planet Waves™ units). A properly calibrated Hygrometer can be very helpful to monitor the actual humidity in your home. It’s always a good idea though to keep your guitar in its case when not being played.

Temperature

Excessive heat can also cause significant harm to your guitar. Over the years I’ve seen instruments that have been left in parked cars during the summer, in trunks or near heaters and fireplaces. They have cracked, had glue and finish melt, suffered warped soundboards and necks or shrunken warped fingerboards with protruding frets. Nasty stuff you don’t want to have to deal with. Trust me. It is best to avoid exposing your guitar to high temperatures, direct heat sources or even direct sunlight for that matter.

Cold can also be detrimental to your guitar. Finish “checking” – small cracks in the finish – can result if the instrument has been out in below freezing temperatures and is then moved into a warmer environment and immediately removed from its case. It is best to allow the instrument to warm gradually inside a closed case before removing it.

The best thing, of course, is to avoid excessive heat or cold and rapid changes in temperature.

Care of the Finish

One unavoidable by-product of playing your guitar is leaving it with finger smudges, oil from your skin, sweat or other grimy bits. The best thing is to use a soft cloth and a bit of moisture (often your breath is sufficient, but sometimes a soft slightly dampened cloth will be required) to remove most stains.

In addition to bringing out the grain of unfinished wood, lighter fluid is also great to remove those stickier messes. It will not harm the finish but will quickly dissolve the tape residue from your set-list or the peanut butter and jelly your kids left behind.

A good commercial guitar polish will bring that lustrous new look back. Never use abrasive cleansers or polishes on your instrument.

For problematic stains or damage to the finish, please call me so we can discuss the best corrective action.