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After I finishing playing I usually just stick my acoustic guitar back in the case. Is there anything I should be doing to prolong its life and keep it in good shape?

If my hands get sweaty while playing I will wipe the back of the neck off on whatever t-shirt I happen to be wearing, is this necessary, or bad, or doesn't make a difference? What else should I do before putting it away?

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You could also wipe off the strings which can make them last slightly longer. And probably both hands get sweaty so you might wipe the top and sides as well.

If it's a solid wood acoustic, then it should be kept at the proper humidity. Whenever I put my acoustic away, I check the humidification system and adjust it accordingly. I also check the wetness of my guitar before I play by sighting down the neck and looking for the height of the bridge to line up with the frets. A low bridge means a dry guitar, and a high bridge means a wet one.

Taylor's excellent links on dry and wet guitars (sorry, they have annoying pop-up crap on these sites):

https://www.taylorguitars.com/support/maintenance/symptoms-dry-guitar

https://www.taylorguitars.com/support/maintenance/symptoms-wet-guitar

  • When you've established the humidity of the guitar, what do you do about it? – Tim Jun 27 '18 at 15:44
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    @Tim You make sure the case has the proper humidity and you leave it in the case. Controlling the case humidity is a lot easier and cheaper than controlling the humidity of the room. If you guitar is wet, you can throw some silica gel packets in the case with the guitar. If it's dry, then there are any number of humidification products on the market to put in the case. I've started using the Planet Waves 2-way system that absorbs moisture when the case is above 50% rH and provides moisture when the case is below 50% rH. Just replace the packs every three months or so. – Todd Wilcox Jun 27 '18 at 16:06
  • I believe that the humidity in my cases would be the same as that in my studio. Over here, I'd worry if it were not so. Getting the guitar out of its case, where it's happy in its environment, to play it in a different one would also worry me - enough to take up a different instrument! Sounds like a nightmare! – Tim Jun 28 '18 at 14:25
  • @Tim I don't really understand what you're saying. My answer to the question is that aside from wiping down the guitar, a check of the humidity control system(s) and the current dryness of the guitar are the things I do after I play. You might be suggesting with your comment that I do things differently, but I've had my solid body acoustic for 21 years now, and I can tell when it's too wet and when it's too dry just by playing it, and it sounds and plays best at the right humidity, so I'm pretty set in my ways. – Todd Wilcox Jun 28 '18 at 14:35
  • I'm not being critical! I just don't suffer from those sort of problems - my main acoustic, I've used for 50 yrs, and that was 2nd hand, never feels any different ever. I just questioned the fact that if it's in a controlled climate case, and it comes out to be played into a different climate, what's that like for it? I'm ignorant. – Tim Jun 28 '18 at 14:40
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Sweaty hands, likely sweaty body. Sweaty t-shirt makes it worse! A clean dry handkerchief is pretty good for wiping under and over the strings, and anywhere else that may have salts from sweat deposited. Straight in the case is good if there's kids around, otherwise, leave it out to air for a while. But don't leave it where it could get knocked over. Necks break easily!

  • I've never heard of leaving a guitar out of its case for the good of the guitar. What's the benefit to that? – Todd Wilcox Jun 27 '18 at 15:38
  • @Todd Wilcox - As I said, to air. Just gives any moisture left on it chance to evaporate. In my studio, all guitars are left out. Cases are for gigs - and only hard cases then. – Tim Jun 27 '18 at 15:41
  • Perhaps you live in a place where the relative humidity is normally around 50%. I don't even leave my solid body electrics out of their cases because the fingerboards will dry out so much that the frets start to stick out and cut me. I struggle to keep my guitars as wet as possible. – Todd Wilcox Jun 27 '18 at 16:03
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    @Todd Wilcox - Northern Europe; sorry, don't know what the humidity is, but it sounds like it's kinder to guitars here. That fact alone is of absolute importance to the question, and without knowing where the OP is, there can't be a really useful answer. It has to be subjective, but it could be a good question with relevant information. – Tim Jun 27 '18 at 16:38
  • @tim I'm in western Pennsylvania, US. Very dry in winter. Humid in summer. I do have a humidifier (the sponge in the sound hole type) and I use it in winter. And just leave it out in summer. – b3ko Jun 28 '18 at 13:39
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Cellist dropping in here. Humidity control is a good idea, but overall it's more important to maintain a level than to try to keep the case at some level different from the room or local environment. It's the rapid changes in moisture level that stress the wood (within limits, of course: 0% RH is a bad idea, etc. ) .

Your instrument should definitely be wiped down after every use. Sweat & body oils are not friendly to wood (or the varnishes & stuff on the wood). You should see how many cellos require refinishing on the top of the body where the left hand rests, after 60 or 80 years of use (seriously). Wipe down the strings for the same reason, tho' I'll grant that a good set of guitar strings costs as much as one mixed drink, while a good set of cello strings is slightly more.

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    Guitars are made from different woods than cellos. I can't speak for cellos, but rapid changes in humidity do almost nothing to guitars, because it takes days for guitars to equalize with the surrounding humidity. If the room is generally dry and the guitar is a solid wood acoustic, it will eventually (after months or even years) dry out and most likely crack. Wet guitars just play badly (and weigh more!), dry guitars suffer damage. Where I live a mixed drink costs about twice as much as a set of guitar strings. And the strings provide about ten times as much joy. – Todd Wilcox Jun 28 '18 at 14:54

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