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Paco de Lucia's guitar
I had the privilege of having the stage guitar of Paco de Lucia in my shop for...
You can learn everything important here that you need to enjoy your newly purchased guitar for the longest time possible: storage, care, transport during trips, handling, changing strings, etc.

How do you care for a French polish guitar?
Shellac provides a few advantages compared to other lacquers used in guitar building (nitrocellulose, polyester, etc.) today. It can be applied a lot more thinly and evenly thanks to the French polishing method and is flexible thanks to its components (wax share). As a result, the shellac coating can support the oscillation of the wood without impairing it.

There are unfortunately not only advantages. The resins and waxes, which favor the flexibility of the shellac, cause a higher sensitivity to heat (melting point 60°-100° C depending upon grade), lower hardness and protection against scratches and abrasion, and increased sensitivity to acid (e.g., from human sweat).
A few tips for handling shellac-polished guitars:
Cotton or leather cloths protect against scratches from buttons, zippers and belt buckles.

Avoid direct, continuous contact between bare skin and the shellac. Human sweat is acidic and dulls shellac.
Do not hit or tap (golpes) areas without tap protection when playing.

Avoid continuous heat, e.g., due to exposure of the sun, radiators or even continuous body heat. Temperatures of 70° C can result between instrument and body when the guitar is pressed firmly against your body. This softens the shellac, and – in the worst cases – you can suddenly see your shirt pattern depicted on your guitar after a long session in summer. You can avoid this either by not pressing the guitar against your body and by placing a soft cloth between the guitar and you.

Consequently, the following applies in general to shellac if you sweat a lot:
Wipe the guitar using a soft cloth after you play.
Do not apply care products containing alcohol in any case. Alcohol dissolves shellac!

This sounds very complicated and time-consuming, but it really is not so. I own a few shellac guitars myself and need relatively little time for their care. I do not play them outdoors or directly in the sun's rays, wipe them off after playing and do not tap the soundboard in an undisciplined way. They are already many years old and still look good.

How do you care for a lacquer guitar?
This is certainly the finish most easy to care for in daily use, regardless of whether nitrocellulose or two-component lacquer. But it still makes sense to dry the sweat on it now and then after playing. The disadvantage is the impaired oscillation behavior of the soundboard due to the thicker lacquer. In general, you should not apply care products containing alcohol to this lacquer either.

How do you care for the fretboard?
You should also clean the fretboard and strings with a soft cloth now and then after playing. Then the strings do not corrode as quickly, and the fretboard does not become soiled or oily. Most used guitars, which I get, have an ugly layer of dirt on the ebony, which collects due to sweat over the years. This can be prevented by regular drying after playing.
I clean fretboards and the frets using very fine steel wool. Using it, I clean off the film rust on the frets and the dirt on fretboard, and you feel a lot better later when you play. Film rust on the frets impairs your playing, because the strings do not slip as well during legado and the sidetones can be heard.

Change strings correctly!
You should replace bass strings when they become dark at the contact points at the frets due to corrosion or even start to unwind. You can replace only the bass strings several times. I test the treble strings by taking a string between two fingers and sliding along it from top down. It I feel an irregularity somewhere, the string is defect and must be replaced.

Observe the following when you replace strings:

Change strings individually while the remaining ones stay in tune.

No abrupt applying or releasing tension
Should it be necessary to remove them all at the same time (e.g., during long playing intermissions or transports or cracks occur), it is better for the guitar to string them symmetrically in steps (i.e., first low and high E strings, then A-B and finally D-G).

Secure the treble strings on the bridge side with knots against slipping through. You can also heat the knots, so that they melt a bit before you tune the string.

How do you care for the machine head or wooden pegs?
Apply a drop of normal household oil between worm and pinion gears once or twice per year.

No oil on the finish or wood parts.
Use soap to grease the plastic shafts in the wooden bushes (after removal of pegs)

Occasionally tighten the screws.

When wooden pegs are hard to turn, they need to be treated with peg soap and with peg chalk when they slip. You can get both in a store selling violins.

How should I store my guitar?
The guitar should always be stored in a case or a corresponding container. Do not hang it on a wall or leave it in a stand in your room for days on end. Be careful if you have underfloor heating. Do not put cases directly on the floor; they get too warm.
Keeping guitars outside of cases often exposes them to substantial fluctuations of humidity. This is especially a danger in winter when it gets very cold outside and heating dries the air inside additionally. That is the most dangerous time for guitars.

Which climate is dangerous for my guitar?
A guitar is normally assembled at a controlled humidity of 50%. A guitar starts to dry out at humilities below 45%. You notice that when you run your hand along the side over the frets and feel them. Then the fretboard has contracted due to drying out, and the metal frets stick out. That is the first warning signal for dry air. As a next problem, then the guitar can get shrinkage cracks. They usually occur on the soundboard along the fretboard. The soundboard is generally in danger of developing cracks, because it is very thin. Shrinkage cracks are not covered by guarantee, because they occur due to incorrect storage.

When you take a guitar out of its case, close it immediately again; consequently, the case interior maintains a constant humidity between 50% and 60%. Then you can play for quite some time, even in somewhat drier air, without any worries. When you put the guitar back into the case, it absorbs the lacking moisture from the case interior again.
Purchase a hygrometer. They are available in building materials markets in many countries for the equivalent of approx. 10 euros. Be careful that the humidity does not sink below 45%. In such case, you should use a humidifier or put wet cloths on radiators or even use a special humidifier for the sound hole. These are usually sponges in pipes or rubber tubes, which are moistened at times. But careful! You should not disperse moisten uncontrolled and for longer periods of time. Too much humidity in connection with warmth can cause a guitar to fall apart.

Guitars sound best at approx. 50% humidity. If they are drier, they sound aggressive; it they are moister, they sound weak.

Heat and cold are not a measurement factor for guitars in principle. Beside extreme cold, which is almost always dry, there can be humid and dry heat. Consequently, check the humidity in the summer too, and do not subject the guitar to strong drafts.

What do I have to pay attention to when I transport a guitar?
When I travel with or ship a guitar, I tune down the strings somewhat. Ten turns on the machine head on all strings suffices. This prevents damage to the guitar if I bump into something with the case or the case falls during transport. The strings have a tension load of approximately 40 kilograms when they are tuned. If there is an accident, that's a lot of tension that affects the soundboard and the bridge. Secure the guitar in the case by cushioning it with soft cloths too.

What do I have to pay attention to if my guitar is damaged?
If you discover a crack in your guitar, the way of dealing with it depends on where the crack is. A soundboard crack is dangerous if it is in the area of tension between soundboard and bridge. In this case, you should loosen the strings and show the instrument to a specialist. If the crack is not open, it often suffices to apply a bit of bone glue, so that it does develop further; you might reinforce the inside of the soundboard with a bit of wood or cloth lining. If the crack is open, i.e., you can look through, a wood splint is usually inserted and reinforced with a few small wood blocks (diamonds).
In general, all cracks should be shown to a specialist, so that he can decide whether something must be done to prevent something even worse.

The neck has warped. This can happen in two directions. If it warps forward, then the string position is suddenly too high. If this is in an acceptable range, it can be adjusted by filing the bridge insert. If it is too great, then the frets have to be removed, the neck is planed straight and new frets are inserted. This is actually routine work for a guitar builder. If the neck is warped too much forward, the fretboard must be planed almost completely down; a new fretboard is glued on and new frets inserted. If the neck warped back, it is more complicated. You hear how the strings suddenly hit the fretboard a lot, although you did not change anything concerning the string position. You can try to bend it forward again with heat or plane down the fretboard and – depending on the degree of warping – glue on a new fretboard and insert new frets. Necks warp sometimes after many years. That happens on older guitars time and again. There are not many old guitars, on which work has never been done to the neck.


New Incomings / Novedades

Prices are final prices. Plus shipping costs.
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