Mayos Music
Guitar Lessons and Instrument Repair

Electric Guitar & Electric Bass
Maintenance & Care


Here at MayosMusic, in addition to offering great guitar, bass, ukulele, banjo and autoharp lessons, plus complete luthier services that include guitar, string instrument and amplifier repair/restorations, we are also a great resource service. The following article covers the care and maintenance special to the electric guitar and electric bass.

Note: See Acoustic Guitar Maintenance & Care article.  Most of it is the same except the use of a guitar humidifier. 

I. Cleaning Metal Parts

For electric guitars and basses which are kept clean and have regular maintenance, you can spray a good guitar polish on a soft, clean, natural fiber cloth or rag and wipe the entire guitar clean.  This applies to the finish and the metal parts.

For dirty and grungy instruments, such as those not stored in their case, played with sweaty and/or dirty hands, or where the guitar's post playing was not wiped clean and dry of sweat, then a deeper more complete cleaning is necessary.  Metal parts may be cleaned with WD-40, or very light cleaning oil, or mineral spirits (paint thinner). 

Extremely grungy parts are best removed from the instrument and disassembled for thorough cleaning, making sure to reassemble in the exact same locations.  Once removed and disassembled, the parts (all metal parts only) can then be cleaned with a stronger solvent (such as lacquer thinner, xylene, denatured alcohol, acetone, etc.) as needed.  If you choose to deep clean with a stronger solvent, always follow it up with spraying the metal parts with a light oil such as WD-40, then wiping dry before reinstalling onto your instrument.  This will help prevent rust and oxidation of the metal parts.  Be careful not to get any solvents or oils onto the finish of your instrument.

Metal parts with rust or corrosion will need a more thorough clean-up.  Removal of metal parts, pre-cleaning, gentle rust removal, polish as needed, then oil, wipe dry, and finally carefully reinstall in the proper places. 

II. Strings

Different styles of playing require different types of strings. Different types of guitars require the correct type of string (for example, never put steel strings on a classical guitar).

A. Electric Guitar

  1. Nickel Wound - Most traditional type, very good response with pickups
  2. Stainless Steel Wound - More corrosion resistance than nickel wound strings, but tone is different (less smooth).
  3. Coated Strings - Designed to last longer against corrosion and wear, but tone is slightly muted and dull.

B. Electric Bass

  1. Round Wound - Most bright in tone, good cut, clarity and presence.  
  2. Half Round (Ground wound, pressure wound, compressed wound)- Less bright and clear than round wound, with more pronounced mid-range tone.
  3. Flat Wound - Very mellow in tone, smooth feel, easy on the fingers, but feel stiff and less flexible.
  4. Tape Wound - Most mellow in sound, minimal highs, thick and muddy.
  5. Coated Strings - Designed to last longer against corrosion and wear, but tone is slightly muted and dull.  

C. Gauges

  1. The larger the diameter of a given string, the tighter (higher tension) that string will require to tune to pitch.
  2. Wound strings have a core (solid or multiple), and an outer string wrap which you feel when playing.  Two strings of equal total (outer) diameter, but with different size cores will feel different and sound different.  Larger inner cores will feel stiffer, and be brighter and snappier in sound when compared to smaller core strings which will sound mellower and smoother feeling. 
  3. Strings with smaller cores and larger outer wraps are easier to bend, than larger core, smaller wrap strings, given the same total diameter, and played on the same scale length and tuned to the same pitch.
  4. Wounds third strings (such as a jazz set) are more flexible and easier to bend than solid third strings.  Though solid thirds are more pronounced, with better snap and bite.

  1. Scale Length and it's Effect on Tension & Sound (when using the same gauge of strings and tuned to the same pitch)

  1. The longer the scale length the higher the tension, and thus the brighter and snappier the sound due to the more spaced apart the harmonic content of the string.
  2. Shorter scale lengths will have more tightly packed harmonics and have more warmth and thickness.

Experience since 1968
Providing Guitar Lessons and Guitar/Amp Repairs in Southern California, South Bay Cities and Greater Los Angeles Area,
Located in Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 and Torrance, CA 90503

(310) 955 - 0246