If you’re serious about maintaining the condition of your precious acoustic guitar, using your sleeve to wipe off fingerprints isn’t going to cut it!

For today’s tutorial, I’ve compiled a shopping list on Amazon so you don’t have to go searching for all the parts individually (they’re not necessarily hard to find but do require trips to multiple stores). The videos below detail the steps I use to maintain my guitars. If it’s good enough for Taylor, it’s good enough for me! Let’s get started.

 

Prep: your work station

An old beach towel and a pillow is all you really need to set up a work station. You’ll be putting the body of the guitar on the towel. The neck will rest on the pillow. Use a pillow that you won’t be using to sleep: the pillow and towel will likely be covered in steel wool fibers and some chemicals. If you’re clumsy like me, you’ll also be spilling linseed oil and car wax. You’ll also want enough table space to have access to the tools and materials. Bridge pins in particular have a tendency to roll around and get lost.

 

Part 1: De-stringing, polishing, and cleaning

 

First, here’s what you need (links open in a separate tab):

String/wire cutter – This multi-tool will cut strings, quickly wind tuning pegs (alternatively, here’s an electric winder), and remove stubborn bridge pins. Must-have for any guitarist!

Microfiber cloth – For polishing the guitar

Clear wax or guitar polish – Protective coating for you guitar

Painter’s tape – For preventing steel wool particles from getting into your guitar

#0000 Super fine steel wool – For cleaning and polishing frets

Paper towel – For cleaning your fretboard

Linseed oil – Conditioning your fretboard

10mm Socket – For tightening down tuning machine heads & pickup jack

Phillips head screwdriver – Adjusting your tuning machine heads

 

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Part 2: Restringing, adjusting neck/action, and properly stretching the strings

Materials Needed:

New strings. I generally use medium gauge strings, so if you prefer a lighter gauge, you’ll want to get the correct gauge (most players prefer lights or medium-lights). You’ll want to try out different strings to see what sounds and feels best on your guitar. My favorites are:

  • D’Addario EJ-17. My go-to strings. I buy in bulk because I change strings before every show and recording session.
  • Elixir Medium Nanoweb 80/20 Bronze. I use these on my teaching/workshop loaner guitars because they last a long time. If you don’t want/need to change strings all that often, these are a great choice.
  • John Pearse 700M Phosphor Bronze. These are my favorite sounding and feeling strings. However, sound quality degrades pretty quickly (for me, within about a week of heavy playing). Fortunately, they’re inexpensive.

String/wire cutter – This multi-tool will cut strings, quickly wind tuning pegs (alternatively, here’s an electric winder), and remove stubborn bridge pins. Must-have for any guitarist!

Digital/Chromatic Tuner – Unless you have perfect pitch, you’ll want one of these

Phillips head screwdriver – Adjusting your tuning machine heads

Truss rod wrench – Some guitars come with it. Others (like Martin) have to be bought separately. Generally, it’s recommended to get a professional to do neck adjustments as it’s very possible to permanently damage your guitar beyond repair if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you want to do it yourself, you’ll want to make sure you have the right size and length wrench. Every guitar has its own dimensions.

 

 

Questions? Did I miss something? Have a hot tip? Let me know in the comments below!