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After a guitar has been well-maintained for four or five years, it tends to have ‘matured’ and becomes more resistant to mild changes in humidity, heat, etc. Mind you, if you’ve been taking good care of your Boucher guitar for that long, you’ve probably developed some great life-long habits anyway!
Treat your guitar well, and it will be your companion for countless musical voyages for decades, and even generations. While there seem to be a lot of rules for guitar care, it all boils down to one simple thing: moderation is key. Avoid extremes like extreme heat, cold, humidity, dryness, changes of temperature, etc., and you’re 90% of the way to perfect guitar maintenance.
As far as repairing your guitar, we have one piece of advice: don’t. We don’t mean to sound harsh, but your guitar is as well-crafted and well-tuned as any other delicate piece of machinery, and guitar repair is best left to professional luthiers. It may look straightforward, but think of your guitar as a masterpiece: if the paint on the Mona Lisa chipped, would you attack it with a brush yourself, or trust the job to trained restorers?
Tuning is important, of course, but try not to over-tune. Loosening the strings on a guitar for storage – unless you’re storing it for months or more – just results in a lot of tightening and loosening, which will erode the strings’ sound over time.
While it’s important to keep your guitar looking good, remember that polishing means removing a little bit of finish. Too much polishing can make an impact in the guitar’s finish in the long run. Cleaning is also of the utmost importance – wipe off your perspiration and fingerprints with a chamois or a dampened soft rag (like a baby’s cloth diaper), then gently buff it with a dry cloth. Take it easy – if you clean your guitar after every use, you should never reach the point where you have to really scrub it. There are lots of cleaning solutions on the market, many of them very effective, but you can never go wrong with pure clean water.
When it comes to caring for your Boucher guitar, heat and humidity are the watchwords.
Music is mercurial, often changing mood and atmosphere at a heartbeat – but your guitar isn’t that fond of change! Rapid changes in temperature and humidity are one of the main causes for damage, and can result in loosened glue, detached bridges, and opening joints.
At Boucher, we recommend you keep and store your guitar at around 40-60% humidity and room temperature (72-77 degrees Fahrenheit, or 21-23 degrees Celsius). Minor variations in this don’t matter as much as rapid shifts, but long periods of dryness, dampness, heat or cold can cause all sorts of problems, including warping, cracks in the lacquer finish, swelling, and other damage. You’ll notice that humidity, dryness etc. also have a distinct effect on the sound of your guitar – it may get a more thuddy sound when humid, and the fret might lift and buzz if it’s either too dry or too humid.
Why? Because your guitar is made of very thin and finely crafted wood – and humidity will make that wood swell, while dryness will make it shrink. Extremes and imbalances will make these problems even worse, as one part of the guitar changes and another does not. That’s why you should always hang your guitar on an interior wall – if you hang it on an outside wall, the colder temperatures outside can leach through the wall and create an actual temperature difference within your guitar, damaging it over time.
We recommend you invest in a hygrometer and thermometer to keep an eye on your guitar’s surroundings. It’s a small investment to make to safeguard your new treasure! There are also guitar humidifiers available, some of which can fit within your case or inside the guitar itself.
Worst come to worst, a guitar that has been exposed to one extreme will never benefit from rapidly being exposed to another. If your guitar has been in freezing conditions, for instance, it’s better to let it warm up gradually than to try to heat it up fast. Try moving it to “middle ground” like a semi-heated garage for a while before bringing it into a warm environment like your house. If you guitar is wet, let it dry naturally instead of blasting it with a hair dryer.
Humidity is always more consistent in a small space than a large one, so we recommend you keep your guitar in its case when you’re not using it.
When storing your guitar, remember that its case was designed for that precise reason. Try not to put anything else in the case but the guitar, as it can redistribute how the guitar rests in the case and cause damage in the long term. And treat your guitar like you treat yourself – would you ride around in the middle of winter in a car trunk? You’d freeze to death! Would you lie for hours in the blazing sun? You’d fry! If you take care of your Boucher guitar using the same common-sense rules you use for your own health, it will be your musical companion for decades to come.