How to clean an electric guitar?

The idea of cleaning an electric guitar may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually not as difficult as you might think. Sure, some people will tell you that the best way to clean your guitar is with distilled water and Windex- they’re wrong!

This blog post will teach you how to properly clean your electric guitar for optimal performance and longevity.

Tools You Need To Clean The Guitar

To properly clean your guitar, you’ll need the following:

-Masking Tape

-Q-tips (or cleaning sticks)

-Cotton Swabs (2)

-Paper Towel or Microfiber Cloth

-Lint Free Cotton Cloth (optional)

-Hex Key Wrench (for nut and tremolo)

Warning: -Never clean inside the pickups or pickup cavities! This can cause damage to your pickups. Also, always disconnect your guitar from all power sources (amps, keyboard) before attempting to clean it.

-Don’t use solvents other than those mentioned in this tutorial. The chemicals in some cleaners may interact badly with your guitar finish.

  1. Removing The Pickguard & Neck Plate

The first step is to remove the pickguard and neck plate from the body of the guitar. To do this you’ll need a strong, thin piece of masking tape (long edges work better). Place one long edge of the tape under one of the pickguard screws and gently slide the screw off the tape. Then, do the same with all the other screws until you can lift one corner of the pickguard (see photo below).

The neck plate will require a hex key wrench to unscrew. If you don’t have a hex key wrench for your specific guitar, use an adjustable one. Once the neck plate is removed, place it somewhere that it won’t get scratched.

2. Cleaning The Guitar Body

A good cleaner will remove dirt and grime from your guitar’s body while being safe to use on most paints (note: always do a test run in an inconspicuous spot before applying any chemical to your guitar). We’ve tested our Satin Finish Cleaner on 3 different types of finishes and have had no problems with durability or color fading. 

We suggest spraying a small amount onto the paper towel/microfiber cloth and wiping down the entire surface of your guitar. For particularly dirty areas, gently apply more cleaner using either Q-tips or one of our cleaning sticks. After finished, wipe off any excess cleaner with a dry paper towel/microfiber cloth. Allow the guitar body to air-dry before moving on to the next step.

3. Cleaning The Pickups

You should clean your pickups at least once a month! Metal and plastic dust from your hands and strings will slowly build up and wear away the magnetism in your pickups over time. Regular cleaning prevents this buildup of grime from degrading tone, output level, and sustain.

To clean your pickups, gently dab them with a cotton swab moistened with our Satin Finish Cleaner. If necessary, you can remove a pickup for easier access by using our 8mm Hex Key Wrench. heavier dirt or corrosion, use a toothbrush or cotton swab moistened with the cleaner to scrub out debris. After you’ve finished, allow the pickup to air dry before moving on to the next step.

4. Tremolo Maintenance

You should clean your tremolo system every time you clean your guitar (i.e., after each wash). This will prevent corrosion and ensure smooth operation for years to come. To do this, just apply a small amount of our Satin Finish Cleaner onto either a paper towel or piece of microfiber cloth and wipe down both sides of the tremolo base plate (when applicable) as well as any exposed metal hardware- don’t forget to grab the spring claw and springs! Wipe off any excess cleaner using another piece of microfiber cloth or a paper towel.

5. Cleaning The Nut and Fretboard

This is perhaps the most important step of all, as it will prevent grime from being transferred into your guitar’s pickups by the strings ( read more about cleaning electric guitar nuts ). Start by lightly dampening a piece of lint-free cotton cloth with our Satin Finish Cleaner. Then use slow, gentle circular motions to wipe away any dirt on your fretboard.

We suggest buying a pack of Vitamin String Cleaners – they’re easily stored in your case for quick access between songs! These safe, non-abrasive cleaners help remove oil and dirt while sounding completely different compared to their treated counterparts (Vitamin & Vitamin E). For particularly dirty areas, use one of our cleaner-moistened swabs to wipe away debris. Once you’ve finished, be sure to wipe down the surface of your fretboard and wait until it is fully dry before moving on to the next step.

6. Cleaning The Electronics

Every guitar comes with a small tube of our Anti-Corrosion Gel. Simply apply this product to your volume and tone control potentiometers (pots) using a cotton swab. This will help prevent any corrosion from forming as well as protect against dust that can cause scratchy/static sound when pots are rotated. Wipe off any excess product with a clean piece of paper towel or microfiber cloth before moving on.

Now it’s time to apply your favorite lubricant to the nut and bridge. We suggest using our Nut Sauce for all of your stringed instrument needs ( read more about maintaining acoustic guitar nuts ).

For tremolo systems, we recommend applying a small amount of ToneRite Tremolo Lubricant to the spring claw. This will help reduce friction and ensure that your tremolo springs feel like the first day. Then, apply a small amount of ToneRite Tremolo Lubricant to the spring claw as well as the springs.

Doing this will ensure that your tremolo system is kept in tip-top shape for years to come and greatly extends tuning stability by reducing friction against spring coils caused by repeated movement over time.

What Types Of Products You Can Use

To Clean Your Guitar?

One of the most important things in keeping your guitar clean is to use safe products. Using certain types of household chemicals and cleaners can damage your guitar’s finishes. We recommend using our Satin Finish Cleaner to remove grime, fingerprints, oils, and smudges without any adverse effects on your instrument’s finish or hardware.

Guitar cleaning products are not one size fits all. Each guitar is unique and should be maintained according to how it’s made and what the manufacturer recommends. Using the wrong kinds of cleaners can lead to damage over time, which could end up costing you a lot more money in repairs down the road.

Re-stringing the Guitar

The most common type of setup on electric guitars is called an “open” string pitch, which means each string has a different tension when played open (without being pressed down onto the fretboard). Each guitar has its preferred amount of “relief” or curvature in the neck.

Strings that are too high can cause intonation problems and make it difficult to play chords – strings that are too low can dig into your frets and damage them over time. After about every ten hours of playing, we recommend re-stringing your guitar due to the changing environment; if you’re constantly playing shows at venues with poor quality equipment or high humidity, this interval will be shortened dramatically.

Guitar Maintenance Tips

If you’ve ever purchased a guitar, the odds are that you’ve noticed at least one ding in it. The truth is, dents can occur even if you’re careful with your instrument.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to fix them!

All you need is a leather strap and some sandpaper from a hardware store – just apply the sandpaper onto the area of the strap corresponding to where your dent is along with some elbow grease and voila – no more dings!

A quick and dirty way to tidy up your frets or pickguard is to use acetone (also known as nail polish remover). Just be sure not to let any get into open cavities to long-term damage.

What about Guitar Strings?

A great way to ensure that your guitar wants for nothing is to make sure you’re always using the right strings.

For instance, if you’ve got an electric guitar with a rosewood fret-board that’s not getting enough love, try thinking about an upgrade to some nickel or bronze wound strings.

Electric guitars are usually strung with either nickel or steel; acoustic guitars are usually strung with either bronze or phosphor-bronze wire, and classical guitars typically have nylon strings. By selecting the right type of string for your instrument, it can drastically improve its tone and play-ability.

What causes your guitar to develop dirt and how to prevent it.

1. Dirt can come from guitar strings and sweat.

2. Make sure you wipe down your guitar after each use to remove the dirt that builds up from playing.

3. You should also wipe down your instrument before putting it back in the case, which will help prevent rusting or oxidation of metal parts and ensure it stays safe during transport.

4. If you have a guitar with alternate tuning, make sure you remove them before putting your instrument back in the case; they can become tangled and cause damage over time.

5. Before wiping down your instrument, be sure to unplug it from any amp or other device first and hang it up securely if you’re not able to put it away immediately.


“Keeping your instrument clean and in good working order will help you get the most out of it, which is why it’s important to use the right materials when cleaning.” Finding the right ways to keep an electric guitar looking and working its best can be the difference between loving it or leaving it. Just take care of your instrument properly, and it will last for years.

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