ADVICE AND CARE
HUMIDITY AND TEMPERATURE
ADVICE AND CARE OF THE GUITAR
Painstaking and loving care of your guitar will lengthen the life of the instrument, whose “sound personality” stabilizes with the passage of time.
When the guitar is not being played it should be kept in its case, which should always be of rigid construction, since those made of canvas or synthetic rubber do not provide sufficient protection.
Be careful to avoid damage to the guitar caused by the lid of the case falling onto it. Always keep one hand on the lid of the case when taking the guitar out.
Always keep the guitar covered with a cloth when it is in its case.
Be careful with buttons, belt buckles, etc. These can damage the varnish on the soundboard, sides or back of the guitar.
HUMIDITY AND TEMPERATURE
It is especially important to monitor the atmospheric conditions in which the guitar is normally kept. Even though the case always provides some protection, never forget that excessive heat, variable humidity, or sudden changes of temperature and humidity are damaging to the guitar.
Although the woods used are seasoned naturally over many years, wood remains a living material with hygroscopic properties (in general terms, it absorbs or expels humidity from or into the atmosphere, depending on the conditions).
Excess of humidity can permanently deform the wood and result in cracks and fissures. The soundboard, neck and fretboard are the most vulnerable parts of the guitar since they are subjected to most pressure. Optimal humidity a handmade guitar should be maintained at ranges between 40 and 60%.
Always keep the guitar in conditions that are as little subject to change as possible. A hygrometer and humidifier will help with this.
Never hang the guitar from a wall by its head or by the slots in the head. Excessive humidity may soften glues.
An excessively dry atmosphere may bring about changes in the wood of the fingerboard that can cause the frets to protrude more than normal. The process is normally reversible and when the guitar is returned to its usual levels of humidity, the frets resume their original height. Nevertheless, if the exposure to dryness is very prolonged, this may cause damage which will require the attention of the luthier.
TRAVELLING WITH THE GUITAR
When travelling by air, try to ensure that the guitar travels with you in the aircraft cabin. Where this is not possible and the guitar has to travel in the hold, bear in mind the low temperatures and sudden changes of air pressure to which it will be subject. In this situation, lock the case, loosen the strings and cover the guitar with some insulating material.
As far as car travel is concerned, never leave the guitar in a car parked in the sun, still less in the trunk. Very high temperatures are reached inside the vehicle.
Because of their importance, I have carried out research in order to secure strings of high quality
Strings should be replaced one by one, remembering never to remove all of the old strings at the same time (this will ensure that the tensile stress on the structure of the guitar does not change suddenly and will also help to keep the instrument in tune). When changing strings be careful not to scratch the soundboard and back of the guitar. To that end, it is useful to rest the guitar on a flat surface covered with fabric or felt and to place a piece of cardboard or cloth behind the bridge where the strings usually rest.
Bear in mind that new strings are very elastic and need a period of stabilization until they finally cease to stretch. During this time, it will be necessary repeatedly to re-tune the strings, which always tend to de-tune themselves. For this reason, the tuning should be checked for a few days. Bass strings require the shortest period of adjustment.
As to how frequently strings should be changed, this obviously depends on the use made of the guitar (although lack of use oxidizes them). Nevertheless, bass strings have a very limited lifespan compared to trebles. Remember that the good condition of the strings is vital in order to obtain good sound quality, depth, quality and quantity of harmonics, etc. Bear in mind that many harmonics are produced by the trebles vibrating in sympathy with the bass strings.
Be careful not to force the tuning buttons on the machine-head. They may break. Tuning should be accomplished smoothly and increasing the tension on the strings should never require a superhuman effort on the part of the guitarist. As soon as there is the slightest sensation of a need for excessive force, stop, loosen the string, and apply a small amount of non-corrosive lubricant (never of the ‘three-in-one’ type), some very refined oil, to the worm gear (the metallic spiral) that turns the string. You can also use powdered graphite, but be careful, since it stains a lot. If the problem persists, the guitar should be taken to the luthier’s workshop for inspection and solution of the problem.
Once the strings are in place, use pliers to cut off the ends. Too much string can be the cause of vibration and unwanted sounds.
Take great care to ensure that nylon strings are fixed properly to the bridge, since these have a tendency to slip free and may cause damage.
Give the top string three turns to ensure that it does not slip free.
DAMAGE TO THE GUITAR
Although we try to ensure that this never occurs, it may nevertheless happen. A crack may not matter if the instrument is taken straight to the workshop.
If the soundboard suffers a crack near the bridge, it is advisable to loosen the strings until the luthier has assessed the damage.
It is important to discuss any problem with the guitar with the luthier, since attempts to fix the problem without the appropriate tools and requisite expertise and knowledge can often make the problem much worse.
The guitar should be cleaned with a soft, dry cloth, which may be dampened slightly for stubborn marks. Never use solvents, alcohol or other chemical products habitually used for cleaning, even if these are designed for use on wood. We advise that you clean your guitar with the cloth provided after each use in order to eliminate sweat or other residues that could in the long run damage the varnish.