I always make my instruments with longevity in mind as I want my guitars and mandolins to stand up well to the rigours of gigging and touring. I don’t make structural compromises when it comes to voicing and build all my instruments in a humidity controlled environment to mitigate for wood movement in different environments here in the UK and across the world. I select the best materials I can get my hands on, make sure they are seasoned and acclimatised and have the time to check each piece thoroughly before and during construction. I build with common sense measures to mitigate for cracks and distortion. I finish my instruments in a musical instrument specific lacquer designed for the job. I supply all instruments with Hiscox flight cases.
In most cases, my instruments will stand up very well to most environments as long as they are not too extreme. However, they will always be vulnerable to damage when in the real world. Don’t forget they are made of a natural material which expands and contracts with humidity (hygroscopic) and they are constantly under high tension. They get hauled around from venue to venue and sometimes from country to country and with various modes of transport. Here are some helpful tips:
I always recommend insuring your instrument.
Use stands and/or cases whenever possible at gigs and at home. A case is always the best guard against fast humidity/temperature changes. Never stand an instrument upright against a wall. If you must then a corner is best! Good quality wall hangers are a reasonable solution. Some stands can still use rubberised/vinyl padding. This can react with some finishes including mine. Check with supplier.
Monitor the environment it is stored in and invest in a humidity gauge for the room. This is especially pertinent in upper floor flats which can be very dry in winter. Avoid close proximity to heat sources such as radiators. This can cause shrinkage cracks. Some guitar humidity regulators are worth looking at if you are worried.
Guitars will move about a little over time due to temperature/humidity changes and string tension. My necks are generally reinforced with carbon fibre and the sound hole adjustable truss rod shouldn’t need much adjusting. Beware of adjusting yourself as the truss rod setting is crucial to the setup and small changes can affect the playability. Consult a professional regarding adjustments to the truss rod and the bone nut and saddle to adjust the action (height of strings above the fingerboard).
Avoid fast temperature and humidity changes. This usually happens after travelling. Don’t leave your instrument in a car overnight as this can mean a cold night followed by a hot car in the morning when the sun comes up.
Always use a flight case. It also helps guard against humidity damage.
Loosen strings before flying and support the head in the case to protect from whiplash type head breaks when cases are dropped.
Avoid if possible flying between extreme damp to extreme dry. This can cause lacquer and/or wood cracks due to rapid shrinkage.
Other causes of damage
Some people have corrosive sweat which can affect lacquer and strings. My lacquer is usually OK with this issue. Use coated strings if this is the case.
Bad repair/setup work. If you can’t get the guitar back to me, always seek a reputable and experienced repairer.
Care and cleaning
Use a damp soft cloth free from dirt or an instrument specific silicone free cleaning product and fingerboard oil like those produced by Dunlop or D’addario. Fingerboards need a little oil about once a year.
My instruments have a lifetime Warranty for the original purchaser against faulty workmanship and materials which is not transferable. They are not covered for damage caused by general wear and tear, misuse, bad repair work, humidity or for reasons other than stated.
If you suspect any damage please don’t hesitate to get in contact. Most damage is repairable.