She’s awesome! You got that beautiful new guitar for Christmas! She’s so ready to be played. But wait! There are a few things you should do with any new guitar before you play your first “G” chord. Here we go.
Make sure everything is in working order
Confirm that you have all the right pieces of the guitar in place. If your guitar plugs in, make sure that the electronics work properly. Tighten down any loose screws. Make sure the input jack is also tight and does not jiggle. All in all, you have the opportunity in these first few days of ownership to take the guitar back if something needs attention. Don’t miss this opportunity.
Clean, clean, clean
You don’t know how long your guitar has been hanging in the shop. Even an instrument purchased online may have spent some time in a showroom. You cannot be sure. Take time to clean, clean, clean your new guitar. Get rid of everyone else’s fingerprints and leave space for only your own. I recommend using Dunlop Guitar Cleaner on the back and sides and the back of the neck and the headstock. I recommend Dunlop Lemon Oil for the fretboard. This combination keeps your instrument clean, but not slick or oily.
Change the strings
No matter how new the strings look on your guitar, buy a new set and replace them. Again, you do not know who was playing your guitar before you. Changing to new strings helps you know how old your strings are. You will know when to change them. This could be every 3, 6 or 12 months depending on how much you play. I prefer coated Elixir Acoustic Guitar Strings and coated Elixir Electric Guitar Strings. These last two to three times longer than cheaper, non-coated strings.
Tune it once and then tune it again
Your guitar spent time in transit. If you purchased it online then it may have flown halfway around the world. Your guitar neck may not have had string tension on it for several days or even weeks. As you tune it for the first few times you may find that it won’t stay in tune very long. I recommend continuing to tune the guitar, making sure it stays in tune more often than it doesn’t, to help the neck settle back in after transit. This will also be true if you have changed to new guitar strings. They will need time to stretch. If you find that after a week your guitar still will not stay in tune, you may want to go to a guitar store and have it looked over.
Have a plan for when you put it down
If you are playing your guitar in winter then your home is most likely dry and the heater runs quite a bit. This means that your home needs more humidity added to it then in summer when the outside humidity does the job. As you set your guitar down in between jamming sessions you may want to purchase a small made-for-guitar humidifier that helps keep your guitar’s wood stay in tip-top shape. Also, make sure you keep your guitar away from the heating/cooling registers in your home. Those dramatic shifts in temperature can warp your guitar’s neck. Finally, be careful to remove your guitar from your car if it will be hot outside. You may leave your guitar in your car during cooler temperatures. I recommend leaving your guitar in its case when you aren’t playing it. This ensures the kids/cats/dogs/neighbors don’t play it.
These five things are not the only things you should do with your new guitar (besides playing it, of course), but they are an excellent start. If you have questions, I’d be glad to answer them.