How Do You Ruin a Guitar? | A Guide to Avoiding Disaster

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Guitars need a lot more care than it may seem. They are sensitive to force, substances and temperatures. When buying a new guitar, the shopkeeper will give you a heads up on its care. But many other things can go wrong with it. If you take proper care of your instrument, it can last you a lifetime. So what can you do that may ruin your guitar?

The most common way people ruin their guitar is by dropping it or applying too much force on the guitar neck. You can also damage the appearance or look of your guitar by accidentally staining it with different substances, like polish or bleach. Humid or wet environmental conditions cause damage to all parts of the guitar.

Before you get a new guitar, you should be familiar with all the possible things that could go wrong. By being aware of the potential threats and how you can fix them, you’ll be able to better maintain your guitar. This article will give you information about what can damage your guitar and some preventive tips.

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How Do You Ruin a Guitar? | A Guide to Avoiding Disaster
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5 Ways You Can Ruin Your Guitar

You may be overwhelmed after hearing how vulnerable your guitar is, but there aren’t too many things you need to look out for. Some situations are worse than others, so you need to be aware of them. Here are 5 of the most common ways people ruin their guitars: 

1. Humid or Wet Conditions

Moisture is your guitar’s biggest nemesis. If there is prolonged exposure, the wood in the guitar will swell up. That will deform it, separating the glued parts and irreversibly changing how your guitar sounds. A few drops of water here and there will only leave marks on the wood, lowering its appeal but that doesn’t mean you stop protecting it from them.

You should always keep your guitars in a guitar case with silica gel packets inside. If you’re keeping them open, you should invest in a dehumidifier for the room. Waterproofing is a great option to protect your guitar if you’re prone to water damage.

2. Using Soap, Polish, or Bleach

Most wet substances will leave marks on your guitar, just like water. Some strong ones, such as bleach or polish, will also corrode the wood’s finishing and damage the look. You could risk ruining the electric components if you get any of these liquids inside the guitar. Replacing those will be an expensive job. 

Oil can also be a problem if you’re not careful while applying it to the strings. But you should keep your guitar as dry as possible and clean only using a microfibre towel. Paper towels and tissues will scratch the surface. 

3. Open Guitar Case or Unsafe Stand

Your guitar case or stand should be secure enough to keep the guitar from receiving physical damage. People often forget to close their guitar cases or the zip breaks, which causes accidents like the guitar falling out. The heavier your guitar is, the more likely it is to sustain damage from the fall.

If you’re using a guitar stand, you should ensure it’s stable. Keep it close to a wall, so it doesn’t fall down even if the guitar slips. If a guitar falls too hard, its sound changes. It can be expensive to figure out such a problem and repair it.

4. Unnecessary Customizations

There is nothing wrong with personalizing your belongings, but when you’re doing it on a guitar, make sure it won’t cause any problems for you. The most common occurrence is people putting stickers on their guitars that they eventually grow out of. During the removal process, they peel off the wood finishing and resort to scraping the adhesive back off.

To get the job done, they also resort to using oils and soaps, all of which will ruin the guitar’s exterior. If you choose to use stickers, ensure they’re reliable and will be removed easily. Ask a professional for tips on removing stickers safely.

5. Excessive Force

The guitar smash is an iconic theatrical part of the guitarist’s performance. However, breaking your guitar doesn’t take that much force. Depending on the make and model, you could easily break off the neck from the body or make a hole in places they’re not supposed to be. You need to be gentle when handling your instrument.

You could permanently damage or break apart your guitar by putting it down forcefully or dropping it from a decent height. That can also happen if it accidentally falls out of a guitar case or the strap splits while hanging from your neck.

How Much Does it Cost to Repair a Ruined Guitar?

For different damages and guitar types, there are various price ranges. You should avoid fixing your guitar by yourself unless you’re a professional. 

If you’re clueless about the cost you’ll have to incur, the table below gives a rough estimate of setup costs based on your guitar type:

Guitar TypeRepair Price
Guitar or Bass (Electric or Acoustic)  $75 and up
Requires neck removal for truss-rod adjustment Add $10
Non-locking tremolo bridge Add $10
Locking tremolo bridge Add $25
12-string Add $25
Resonator Guitar $95
Lap Steel Guitar$55
Mandolin $75
Ukulele $55
Banjo $80
Tune banjo headAdd $30

Source: Long & McQuade


Q. Can You Use Wipes To Clean Your Guitar?

No, it isn’t recommended to use any kind of wet wipes to clean your guitar. You should use a microfiber cloth because it’s gentle and won’t scratch the surface.

Q. What Happens if Your Guitar Gets Water on it?

Water damage depends on the amount of exposure. A few drops won’t cause more than stains on the wood, but leaving a guitar wet for too long could make its wood swell.

Q. What Happens if You Drop Your Guitar?

You could possibly damage the body, neck, or internal parts. There may be physical damage, such as cracks or scratches, but it will also sound different if something else breaks. 

Final Thoughts

There are way too many ways to ruin your guitar. As a buyer, you should know where to keep your guitar and how to keep it clean. Most people end up damaging their guitars through accidents or careless mistakes. However, if you’re careful, you’ll be able to use the same guitar for as long as you want!


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