Your new Troublesome Creek instrument has been hand-built with great care, and if looked after properly, should be around for generations to come. Although these heirlooms are certainly built to last, our time-honored, traditional construction methods require that certain cautions be observed.
Wood is hygroscopic in nature
Which means it can absorb and release water from the air fairly quickly. So, it will predictably expand or contract when exposed to extremes of humidity. This is especially true of the woods used in fine stringed instruments. A sudden increase in ambient humidity may result in swelling; a sudden decrease may cause shrinkage to the point of cracking. Try to keep your instrument at right around 50% humidity; try to keep room temperature in the 70s.
Extreme heat can soften the glue that holds your instrument together. Avoid leaving it in the sun, or in a car in the sun. Very bad things can happen very quickly.
Extreme cold presents hazards all its own; too-sudden cooling or warming can damage a gloss finish. Nitrocellulose lacquers “craze” when cold-shocked. So, when coming in from the cold, always pause long enough to allow your cased instrument to come up to room temperature before opening it. Unless you just like that whole “cracked marble” look.
And speaking of traditional nitro finishes, besides avoiding contact with solvent-based lotions and colognes, you should never leave your instrument in prolonged contact with anything made of soft vinyl or imitation leathers. The plasticizers in these modern materials (yes, this includes your favorite vintage guitar vinyl strap) can migrate permanently into your neck, back or top and mar or even imprint the faux hide texture into your finish!
When changing guitar strings, take care not to jam the bridge pins in the slots. Make sure the string ball is clear of the pin tip, seat the pin, and while holding it down, tug the string ball up tight against the bottom of the bridge plate. This will ensure clear tone and a long bridge life. Pins should be a slip-fit; forcing pins can crack a bridge!
Truss Rod Adjustment — Leave it to the pros!
Leave truss rod adjustments to your authorized dealer’s tech. Troublesome Creek uses a two-way truss that can change your neck bow coming and going, so please, leave it to the pros.
Cleaning Your Instrument
To clean your instrument, use a soft, damp cloth. To polish, use a good, name-brand, silicone-free guitar polish (at the factory we are currently using StewMac’s Preservation Polish).
Out of harm’s way
Never randomly lean your instrument against anything or lay it, say, on the couch, because that is an open invitation the have your heirloom knocked over or sat-upon. And never play gigs beneath walnut trees.
It bears mentioning here that our many years of collective repair experience gives us volumes of cautionary tales. Listed above are just a few of the basics to help you keep your instrument well.