How to Maintain a Les Paul Guitar

Written by robert russell
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The Gibson Les Paul is one of the classic electric guitars. The Les Paul, like any guitar, needs routine cleaning and maintenance to keep it in good condition. Electric guitars take a lot of abuse from sweat, dirt, fingerprints and so forth. Electric guitars also are damaged or injured if they are transported improperly. Extra caution needs to be taken to reserve and protect the colour and finish of a Les Paul guitar. Les Pauls use a lacquer finish that is somewhat fragile.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Guitar polish
  • Polishing cloth
  • Fretboard polish
  • Contact spray
  • Steel wool

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    Cleaning Tips

  1. 1

    Purchase Gibson guitar maintenance products for the Les Paul. Gibson sells guitar polish and polishing cloths specifically designed to clean the lacquer finish. Gibson also sells fretboard cleaner and string lubricants. In addition to these cleaning products, purchase contact cleaner to clean the volume and tone pots on the guitar.

  2. 2

    Remove the strings and clean the fretboard once or twice a year. The Gibson fretboard conditioner is applied with a clean cloth. It cleans the fretboard and replenishes the natural oils in the wood. The frets may be cleaned with fine grade steel wool.

  3. 3

    Remove the tone and volume knobs to clean the pots. Sweat, dirt and grime work their way into the pots. This causes scratchy and hissing sounds when you turn the knobs. Slide a credit card under the edge of the knob for leverage. Push the knobs up and pull them off of the guitar. Spray contact cleaner into the tone and volume pots. Turn the pots back and forth several times to help work the contact cleaner in. Replace the knobs.

  4. 4

    Clean the Les Paul with guitar polish and a clean cloth. Wipe and buff the guitar until it is clean and shiny.

    Safety Tips

  1. 1

    Wipe water off of the Les Paul immediately. The Les Paul Owner's Manual warns that water spots will damage the lacquer finish of a Les Paul.

  2. 2

    Avoid direct exposure to sunlight. Sometimes this is difficult if you are playing an outdoor day gig, however, limit the exposure to sunlight as much as possible. Direct sunlight can cause the lacquer finish to become blistered and discoloured.

  3. 3

    Avoid extreme temperatures. Extreme cold and heat have the potential for causing cracks in the lacquer finish of the Les Paul.

Tips and warnings

  • Wipe the Les Paul with a clean cloth after every gig.
  • Use good quality guitar stands at the gig. Avoid laying the guitar on the floor or propping it against the wall or amplifier.
  • Store the guitar in a guitar case when it is not being played.

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