Matte Finish Guitar Cleaning [7 Effective Ways]

Matte finish guitars have gained immense popularity for their unique aesthetic appeal and smooth feel. However, they require specific care and cleaning methods to maintain their elegance and sound quality.

Matte Finish Guitar Cleaning

Within this all-encompassing guide, we shall explore the mastery of efficiently cleaning matte finish guitars, safeguarding the impeccable state of your treasured instrument. With an array of appropriate tools and systematic cleaning directives, we have your needs comprehensively addressed.

Understanding Matte Finish Guitars:

Matte finish, also known as satin finish, is a type of guitar finish that lacks the glossy shine found in traditional glossy finishes. This non-reflective surface not only contributes to a distinct visual charm but also offers a more natural feel under the fingers. However, due to its porous nature, matte finish guitars tend to absorb dirt, oil, and sweat more readily. Hence, regular and proper cleaning is crucial.

Essential Tools for Cleaning –

Before diving into the cleaning process, gather the following tools:

a) Microfiber Cloth:

Microfiber Cloth

A microfiber cloth proves indispensable in the cleaning of matte finish guitars, thanks to its gentle and lint-resistant attributes. Crafted from synthetic fibers, microfiber cloths boast a finely woven texture that excels at capturing and eliminating dirt, dust, and oils. All of this is accomplished without posing a risk to the delicate matte finish, as they avoid scratching or causing damage.

Prior to utilizing a microfiber cloth, it’s essential to ascertain its cleanliness and absence of any abrasive particles that might jeopardize the guitar’s surface.

b) Guitar Polish/Cleaner:

A high-quality guitar polish or cleaner formulated specifically for matte finishes is crucial for maintaining the appearance and longevity of your instrument. Unlike glossy finishes, matte finishes don’t respond well to traditional polishes, as they can leave behind residue or alter the finish’s texture.

c) Soft Bristle Brush:

Soft Bristle Brush

For effectively tidying up hard-to-reach spots on your guitar, a soft bristle brush serves as an invaluable tool. This brush could be a makeup brush or a specialized guitar cleaning brush. It proves particularly handy for addressing areas like those encircling the bridge, tuners, knobs, and various hardware components.

The soft bristles effectively dislodge dust and debris that may have accumulated in these crevices. The bristles should be gentle enough not to scratch the finish or harm delicate parts.

d) Distilled Water:

Distilled water can be used in small amounts for stubborn grime or buildup on your matte finish guitar. It is recommended to use distilled water because it lacks impurities and minerals that tap water might contain.

However, caution should be exercised when using water on any musical instrument, including matte finish guitars. Only use distilled water sparingly and ensure that excess moisture doesn’t come into contact with sensitive parts like the sound-hole or electronics. Always dry the area thoroughly after using water.

e) Guitar Stand or Cushioned Surface:

Guitar Stand or Cushioned Surface

When cleaning your matte finish guitar, it’s essential to have a stable and secure platform to work on. A guitar stand is a convenient option, as it keeps the guitar safely in place and at a comfortable height for cleaning.

Ensure the guitar stand has padded surfaces where the guitar’s body and neck rest to prevent any accidental scratches or dings. If using a cushioned surface, such as a clean and soft cloth on a table, make sure the guitar is positioned securely to avoid any mishaps.

Step-by-Step: Matte Finish Guitar Cleaning Process –

Follow these steps to effectively clean your matte finish guitar:

a) Preparing the Guitar:

Preparing the guitar for cleaning involves setting up a safe and convenient workspace. Follow these steps:

Find a stable surface: Choose a flat and stable surface to place your guitar. A dedicated guitar stand is an excellent option as it securely holds the guitar in place.
Loosen the strings: Slightly loosen the tension of the guitar strings. This step provides better access to all parts of the guitar’s body and fretboard for thorough cleaning.

b) Dusting the Guitar:

Dusting the Guitar

Dusting your matte finish guitar helps remove loose particles and debris from the surface.

Soft bristle brush Use: Make sure to brush the entire surface of the guitar with a soft bristle brush. Focus on areas around the bridge, tuners, frets, and other hardware.
Brush in the direction of the grain: Brush following the grain of the wood or the direction of the matte finish to prevent scratching.

c) Applying the Cleaner/Polish:

Applying the Cleaner

Applying the right cleaner or polish is crucial to maintain the matte finish’s integrity:

Use a designated product: Choose a guitar polish or cleaner specifically designed for matte finishes. Avoid products meant for glossy finishes, as they may contain ingredients that affect the matte surface.
Apply to a cloth: Put a small amount of the cleaner or polish onto a microfiber cloth. Avoid applying directly to the guitar’s surface to prevent excessive product buildup.

d) Cleaning the Body:

Cleaning the guitar body involves careful application of the cleaner or polish:

Circular motions: Gently rub the cloth over the guitar body in circular motions. Ensure even coverage across the entire surface.
Avoid excessive pressure: Use light pressure to prevent any potential damage to the matte finish.

e) Cleaning the Fretboard:

The fretboard, if made of wood, requires special attention during cleaning:

Use lemon oil (if applicable): If your fretboard is made of wood, apply a small amount of lemon oil to a different section of the cloth.
Wipe the fretboard: Gently wipe down the fretboard, being cautious around the frets. Lemon oil helps clean and condition the wood.

f) Cleaning the Hardware:

Cleaning the hardware components keeps your guitar in top shape: Same cloth, different section: Use the same microfiber cloth with the cleaner/polish to clean the hardware components such as the bridge, tuners, and knobs.
Avoid excess moisture: Ensure the cloth is not overly damp to prevent moisture from seeping into the hardware.

g) Drying and Buffing:

Drying and Buffing

Drying the guitar after cleaning prevents moisture-related issues and enhances the finish’s appearance:

Air drying: Allow the guitar to air dry for a few minutes to ensure any residual cleaner evaporates.
Buffing: Use a clean, dry microfiber cloth to gently buff the guitar’s surface. This action enhances the matte finish’s luster.

h) Re-stringing the Guitar:

Re stringing the Guitar

Re-stringing is the final step to complete the cleaning process:

Tune the guitar: If you loosened the strings, re-tune the guitar to its proper pitch.
Re-string: If the strings are old or worn, consider replacing them with a fresh set. Stringing your guitar properly maintains its optimal sound quality.

By following these steps meticulously, you can effectively clean your matte finish guitar, ensuring its longevity and maintaining its unique visual appeal and sound quality.

Tips for Maintenance:

a) Regular Cleaning:

Regular cleaning is a cornerstone of matte finish guitar maintenance, ensuring its longevity and aesthetics.

Frequency: Aim to clean your guitar every 1-2 weeks, or as needed, depending on usage. Regular cleaning prevents buildup of dirt, oils, and grime that can affect the finish and sound quality.

Microfiber Cloth: Use a microfiber cloth to gently wipe down the guitar’s surface. This prevents dust and debris from accumulating and maintains the matte finish’s appeal.

Quick Dusting: If you play frequently, a quick dusting after each session can prevent particles from settling and becoming harder to remove.

b) Storage:

Proper storage plays a pivotal role in maintaining your matte finish guitar’s condition and longevity:

Cool, Dry Place: Store your guitar in a room with stable temperature and humidity levels. Extremes in temperature or humidity can damage the wood and finish over time.

Guitar Case: When not in use, keep your guitar in a padded, climate-controlled case. A case shields the guitar from environmental changes and physical damage.

Stand Considerations: If using a guitar stand, ensure it’s placed away from direct sunlight, heating/cooling vents, and areas with high humidity.

c) Humidity Control:

Humidity control is vital to preventing damage caused by fluctuating moisture levels:

Use a Hygrometer: Invest in a hygrometer to monitor the humidity level in your guitar’s storage area. Aim for a consistent humidity level between 40% to 50%.

Guitar Humidifier: If you live in an area with dry climate, consider using a guitar humidifier to prevent the wood from drying out, which could lead to cracks and other structural issues.

Avoid Extreme Changes: Rapid changes in humidity can cause wood to expand and contract, leading to issues like fret buzzing and even warping. Gradual changes are preferable.

d) Avoid Harsh Chemicals:

Steer clear of abrasive or harsh cleaning agents to prevent damage to your matte finish guitar:

Silicone and Wax: Avoid products containing silicone or wax, as they can leave a residue that’s difficult to remove from matte surfaces.

Acids and Alcohol: Stay away from acidic or alcohol-based cleaners, as they can degrade the finish and harm the wood.

Test in Small Area: Before using any new product, test it on a small, inconspicuous area of the guitar to ensure it doesn’t negatively affect the finish.

e) Professional Maintenance:

Professional maintenance ensures your matte finish guitar remains in top condition over the years:

Technician: Consider taking your guitar to a professional guitar technician for deeper cleaning and maintenance. They have the expertise to address any issues and perform adjustments if necessary.

Annual Checkup: Plan for an annual checkup to assess the guitar’s condition, perform any needed adjustments, and ensure optimal play-ability.

Restringing: If you’re not confident restringing your guitar, professionals can restring it properly, preventing potential damage.


In the realm of musical instruments, matte finish guitars possess a distinct allure that demands special care. This guide has unveiled the art of cleaning these instruments, preserving both their aesthetics and sound quality. Understanding the subtleties of matte finishes is the foundation. With microfiber cloths, dedicated cleaners, soft brushes, and cautious use of distilled water, you possess the tools for success.

The cleaning process outlined here is a meticulous journey, from preparing the workspace to delicately dusting, applying cleaners, and restoring the guitar’s luster through drying and buffing. Re-stringing culminates this process, setting the stage for your music’s resonance.

Cleaning goes beyond aesthetics; it’s a tribute to craftsmanship, a commitment to sonic excellence, and a path to an enriched musical connection. Regular care ensures both longevity and elevated musical experiences, letting your melodies harmonize through a well-preserved instrument.

FAQs –

Q1. Can I use regular household cleaners to clean my guitar’s matte finish?

Answer: It’s not recommended to use regular household cleaners on your guitar’s matte finish. These cleaners can contain harsh chemicals that might damage the finish. Stick to mild solutions specifically designed for musical instruments.

Q2. How often should I clean my guitar with a matte finish?

Answer: Light cleaning can be done as often as needed to prevent dirt buildup. However, deep cleaning should be performed every few months or when the guitar appears visibly dirty.

Q3. Can I use a guitar polish on my matte finish to make it shine?

Answer: You can use a specialized matte guitar polish sparingly to restore a slight sheen. Be cautious not to overuse it, as too much polish can create uneven patches on the matte finish.

Q4. What’s the best way to prevent fingerprints on a matte finish?

Answer: To prevent fingerprints, handle your guitar with clean hands and avoid touching the matte surface excessively. If fingerprints do appear, gently wipe them away using a microfiber cloth.

Q5. Can I store my matte-finished guitar in direct sunlight?

Answer: It’s not recommended to store your guitar in direct sunlight, as prolonged exposure can fade the finish and potentially damage the wood. Opt for a cool, shaded area or use a protective case.

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Perry Garner

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