The Importance of Stringed Instrument Maintenance

Everyone understands maintenance.  Without it the products we buy, slowly deteriorate and begin to work at a  frustrating level.  If every time we go to use  a product and it needs to be coaxed into operation, our enjoyment of the product goes down.   Stringed instruments are no different.  If every time you take it off the stand or out of the case, and you find it hard to play, constantly out of tune or just doesn’t sound as pleasant, you won’t enjoy the time you spend playing.  Musical instruments need periodic maintenance just like a lawn mower or your toaster.  Occasionally you have to at least knock the crumbs out of it or check the oil, to keep it performing at an enjoyable level.  Performing upkeep tasks keeps the products we buy for our convenience and pleasure in good working order.

As a minimum, you guitar, mandolin, or hurdy gurdy, needs a fresh set of strings.  New strings from time to time, not only bring out the best sound quality, but they also stay in tune better and buzz less.

Most modern instruments come with an adjustable truss rod.  This device helps adjust the playability to seasonal changes and keeps the action at its best.  Normally the action moves slowly and we don’t notice until one day it’s WOW!  This is getting hard to play and is no longer enjoyable.  Having the truss rod adjusted keeps the action playable.

Cleaning the instrument may not require a luthier, but helps both in looks and playability.  Excessive dirt and sweat, dead skin (think DNA) on the strings,  fingerboard, and body, makes subtle changes in how the instrument looks, plays, and sounds.  Through playing, screws and other moving parts loosen which can cause buzzing or worse yet fall out and make the instrument unplayable.  Taking the time yourself or bringing the instrument to a luthier for care will keep your axe in top form.  These are just a few items that regular maintenance will help keep your instrument in top playing condition and most importantly keep you enjoying making music.

Till the music fades,

Anton

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