Steel Guitar News September 17. 2012

Hello fellow players,

This is Bob Hempker subbing for Bobbe Seymour today.

It’s a good idea to obviously change your strings periodically. I like to change mine every two to three weeks at the maximum. No matter how often you play, the strings just being stretched up to pitch, over a period of time, they go dead on you.

I recall when I was on the road with Loretta working fairs all summer long and my equipment would get dirty, dusty, absolutely filthy and I didn’t really have time to clean it properly like I wanted to clean it because we were doing one nighters and moving daily from city to city.

I couldn’t setup or tear down without getting filthy myself. My cords and stuff would be grungy if from nothing else but being under the bus, not to mention the dust from the fair grounds. Bear in mind, much of this fine dust gets down into the tuning changer of the guitar, the control pots of your amplifier and other places that can wear on your equipment.

When I’m changing my strings I like to try to lubricate my guitar, clean and polish it and do any general maintenance on it such as if I have a knee lever or pedal that’s not quite feeling right, I try to adjust it to get the guitar playing as good as it can play.

I like to start by running a small bead of 3-in-1 oil on the top of the tuning changer while the old strings are still on the guitar keeping the tension on the tuning changer. I don’t like WD40 or any kind of penetrating oil for this. I will then sit and work the pedals and knee levers for about 5 to 10 minutes so the oil gets worked in well.

I then take the old strings off the guitar and oil the rollers at the left end of the guitar. I like to use a real super light oil for this. Slide trombone side oil is great for this and you can get it at any music store that sells horns.

After I get done with the rollers I use Windex to wipe off the excess oil, especially formica guitars because formica is a form of wax. It works equally well on a lacquer bodied guitar.

Now that I’ve cleaned the top, front and back of the guitar, I use a coat of liquid wax of some sort. It doesn’t matter what brand. Then I polish the end brackets and the metal parts of the guitar with aluminum polish. I use either Mother’s or Simichrome.

Take special care on the top of the tuning changer to really get that polished good because that’s where the strings move backward and forward and that needs the least amount of friction you can get.

After I’ve got the top of my guitar cleaned real good, I then put the new strings on. After I’m tuned up and the pedal stops tuned, I turn the guitar over, take an oil dispenser and oil every place the metal touches metal. Cross rods, bell cranks, where rods go through collars and like I said, anywhere that metal touches metal.

While I’ve got the guitar turned over, I also check my end plate screws and any other screws under the guitar and make sure they are snug. Don’t over tighten them, but they need to be snug. I make sure that there’s lubrication between the floor pedals. I then polish the pedal board with the aluminum polish.

This is all time consuming, but we want our instrument to play as well as it can possibly play and live as long a life as it possibly can. One other thing to never forget is when I do this, I also polish my bar and picks to reduce friction.

This might be psychological, but a nice clean, polished guitar seems to play better to me. A good analogy is a car that has just been cleaned up and detailed seems to drive better. At least it makes me feel better.

Some other things we don’t want to over look are maybe a couple of times a year, dust and clean our effects, amplifiers and whatever else you may carry. Cords lay on the floor, get stepped on and generally get grungy. The same goes for your power cords that go your amplifier and effects.

I personally can’t stand to touch my guitar with my hands dirty, let alone try to play it.

About once or twice a year you may want to check the chassis screws in your amplifier and make sure that they’re tight. If you have a scratchy control on your amp, you may want to try spraying contact cleaner in there. If that doesn’t help, you may want to replace it.

If you play a tube amp, you may want to consider replacing your tubes periodically because tubes do degenerate over time and the older they are, the more likely they are to blow out and it’s most likely going to happen while you’re onstage. I’ve never know a tube to burn out while riding under the bus. I have seen them work their way loose from vibration and fall out and break.

Our equipment takes a beating under those buses. It’s even worse if they’re being hauled in a trailer being pulled behind a station wagon, van or bus. When I was on the road I always tried if I could, to carry my guitar up inside the bus. Much of the time that wasn’t practical but when I could I would, even if I had to sleep with it in my bunk.

Our guitar and our equipment are extensions of ourselves and are what we use to express ourselves in our playing and to make a living. So just like you take care of your own body, you should take care of your equipment.

If you’re not sure exactly what to do to keep your guitar in the good shape, Bobbe has two maintenance DVDs, one for push pull guitars and one for all pull guitars. In light of the cost equipment, these maintenance videos are a good investment.

Check out our monthly specials at and we’ll try to save you a lot of money.

Steel Guitar Nashville
123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
(615) 822-5555
Open 9AM – 4PM Monday – Friday
Closed Saturday and Sunday

Related Posts

Country Music Fair Erfurt

Amanda Heartsong By The Hearthfire

By Phillip Doring for Country Music News International Magazine

The Emergence Of Owen Smith

By Phillip Doring for Country Music News International Magazine

Tamworth Country Music Festival

By Phill Doring for Country Music News International Magazine

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *