Unless you take away some more or less experimental models, guitars are all made out of wood. Sure, you might think this is just dead wood. But you’d be surprised how susceptible it is to long-term exposure to outside factors. Wood actually degrades over time, even if it’s accompanied by layers of (more or less) protective materials. But one question comes to mind here: Should I wax my guitar neck?
Yes, you should absolutely wax your guitar neck. Waxing, as well as proper instrument hygiene, prolongs the life of your instrument. And not just that – it ultimately keeps it away from both aesthetic and functional damages.
After all, who wants to deal with an old guitar with a warped neck, right?
But the process is far from being that simple. This is why we decided to come up with a guide on how to keep your guitar safe in the long run. This includes proper cleaning and waxing, which also includes waxing your guitar’s neck. Read on to learn more about guitars and how to maintain them.
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Guitar Maintenance: How to Clean Your Guitar
When someone mentions “guitar maintenance,” we all immediately think of setting up the hardware. You know, intonation, moving the bridge saddles, setting up the action, all that jazz. However, the cleanliness of your guitar comes first.
So cleaning your guitar, be it an acoustic or an electric one, is a must. Well, if you want to keep your guitar both clean and functional in the long run. We’ll look into a more detailed cleaning process in order to get all territories covered. For this process, you’ll need:
- A microfiber cloth (preferably more than one)
- Paint-cleaning clay
- Guitar polish
- Guitar wax
- Guitar detailer and polish pads are optional
Firstly, you’ll want to apply paint-cleaning clay. Sure, it may sound unusual, but you can simply get it at any auto parts store. Then, you’ll want to use a detailer, either those intended for guitars or cars. You’ll apply the detailer spray and then move clay over the guitar’s body. The clay will remove all the dirt and residue that you don’t want to have on the instrument’s body and neck.
After you’re done, take a microfiber cloth and remove the clay and other residues. As a result, your guitar will get that much-appreciated shine and gloss. Some prefer to use regular cloths, even old clothing. However, I’d strongly advise you to use a microfiber cloth.
Up next, we have the polishing part. Using a proper polish and applying it thoroughly will actually help you “even out” light scratches on your guitar. Even if you think you don’t see them, these light scratches completely ruin your guitar’s look. So take a small polish pad and go in a circular motion, applying the polish in the process. After you’re done, just remove the residue with a microfiber cloth.
And now we get to the waxing part! The whole point of using wax is not just the cleanliness, but also keeping your guitar safe. It protects the finish from oxidation (it’s super important for some finishes), some light scratches, and it seals small cracks. It’s these small cracks that can sometimes do long-term damage, mostly due to moisture.
In order to apply the wax, I’d recommend using a microfiber cloth. If you apply too much wax, it may get a bit hard to remove. In case this happens, just use some detailing spray to remove it.
In my opinion, the best way is to apply it in smaller coatings. Add a little bit of wax and then distribute it over the body. Then do that again and again, until you notice that there’s some excess wax. It’s only then that you should apply the detailer and remove the excess stuff.
Now, a detailer is sometimes marketed as a polishing spray and guitar players use it for cleaning. But you won’t do much cleaning with it. Aside from some adjustments in the previously explained processes, detailers are used for finishing touches after cleaning. Additionally, you’ll want to use a detailer for day-to-day purposes. It’s really good at removing fingerprints and smudges, especially from glossy finishes.
Should I Wax My Guitar Neck?
So we get to the main question: Should I wax my guitar neck? Yes, absolutely. Firstly, it will look and feel better. Secondly, you’ll protect the wood from long-term damages. And honestly, the neck is the most important part of your guitar that you’ll want to protect.
In fact, your fretboard might have some small barely visible cracks. These can even come by default and even those highly-prized guitar brands can have poor-quality fretboards sometimes. (Looking at you, Gibson.)
Additionally, a lot, if not the most, of guitar necks don’t have those complete finishes. Smooth lacquered or matte finishing touches usually make them less sensitive. But instead, a lot of necks out there have that “grainy” feel to them. While it may be more comfortable to play and easier to grip (though it’s a bit of a personal preference), you’d need to think of protection.
In simple terms, wax keeps all the small invisible cracks sealed. It will prevent moisture from coming in. And long-term moisture protection will keep your neck healthy. Honestly, you don’t want to know how awful long-term damages from moisture can get.
How to Apply Wax on Your Guitar Neck
Well, the process of putting the wax on your guitar’s neck is pretty much the same as with the body. There are, however, a few things to consider. Firstly, you’ll need to make sure that you covered each part of the neck properly with every application of the wax. Secondly, you’ll see that some of the wax goes over to the fretboard, even when you’re waxing the back of the neck. Make sure to remove it. Leaving it for too long will leave smudges.
If you’re waxing the fretboard, you’d best do it while you’re restringing your guitar. After all, it makes no sense to wax it over the strings, and restringing is the perfect occasion. The application goes pretty much the same, you’ll just have to be extra careful with removing the excess wax. A lot of it will stay next to the fret wire, so make sure you’re using the detailing spray and a microfiber cloth to remove it.
Can You Use Car Wax on Your Guitar?
Now, here’s a bit of a controversial question. There are guitar players out there wondering whether you can use car wax on your guitar. Just like with the polishing clay, you can use car-oriented products for this. In fact, some of the more prestigious guitar manufacturers even encourage car wax use.
However, there’s a catch. Do not apply car wax to your neck and fretboard. Additionally, car wax is recommended only for regular glossy finishes. So if your guitar has a lighter finish, I’d not recommend car wax.
In the end, it all comes down to safety, and you don’t want to risk doing any unwanted damage to your guitar. As I’ve mentioned, necks are more sensitive, especially the fretboard. Sure, you can use car wax, but I’d rather recommend getting guitar-focused products for this purpose. After all, they’re easily obtainable and are not expensive at all.
Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness: The Importance of Keeping Your Guitar Clean
Sure, you might be wondering whether keeping your guitar clean is worth it. Cleaning might seem not only like a time-consuming task but also like something that’s just not as important. However, cleaning your instrument is more than just about the looks. Even if you’re trying to leave that image of a cool-looking punk rock musician who doesn’t care, cleaning is still a must.
As I’ve mentioned before, it keeps your instrument safe. Firstly, the entire thing is about keeping it safer from the outside factors, like moisture. Accumulated dirt and other residues can eventually lead to mold, ultimately damaging the finish, the wood itself, and even strings and hardware. In the end, the waxing process keeps all of your guitar’s main components safe in the longer run.
Additionally, doing proper polishing will even out those small scratch marks. And these scratches can also be a place where the dirt and unwanted residue accumulate. As time goes by, you’re risking oxidation and even encouraging the growth of these scratches.
Don’t Overdo It
However, you should also bear in mind not to overdo it. This is especially the case with the polishing process as it actually removes a very thin layer of material when you do it. Therefore, think of the short and long-term cleaning processes, depending on how often you use that particular guitar. If it’s an instrument that you play daily or multiple times per week, do some daily minor cleaning with a detailer and a microfiber cloth.
Then there should be some waxing once in a while, probably every few months (which also depends on the air humidity of the place where you live). Clay can be used depending on the needs, mostly if you’re playing that instrument often. Finally, polishing can be done after longer periods, maybe once in a few years or so.