When you start playing the guitar, you might be aiming towards playing live with a band, or recording your own music in a studio. What you might not think about is cleaning and tinkering with your guitar, however it is an important part of being a guitar player. To keep your pride and joy in the best condition possible, you’ll want to invest in one of the best guitar cleaning kits in your tool bag for regular upkeep and maintenance.
There is a range of tools, cleaning solutions, cloths and all sorts of other paraphernalia out there that can help you keep your guitar looking great, but also playing and sounding as good as it possibly can. The best guitar cleaning kits will mean that when it comes to restringing your guitar, or tweaking the action (that is, the height of the strings from the fingerboard) and intonation, or just giving it a good polish, you’ve got everything you need to do a proper job.
Most decent guitar stores will have a tech on hand to take care of restrings and setups, but over the course of a year, this can get really expensive, plus there’s a certain amount of satisfaction you can gain from doing it all yourself. It also means you can restring or set your guitars up exactly how you like them.
Regardless of how far you want to go with guitar maintenance; whether it’s just being able to do a good restring job, or give your guitar a full setup, or even perform modifications, you’ll want to have some of the best guitar cleaning and maintenance kits on hand.
Best guitar cleaning kits and tools: Our top picks
The best kit out there for guitar maintenance and cleaning could well be the Dunlop System 65 Complete Kit. It offers everything you could possibly need for setting up and restringing guitars to improve feel and playability.
The Ernie Ball Musician’s Toolkit isn’t quite as comprehensive but it does have some wipes for polishing up your guitar, and is quite a bit cheaper. If you don’t want to spend much, but want to dabble in guitar cleaning and maintenance, then look at the CruzTools Guitar & Bass Multi-Tool, or the classic GHS Fast Fret.
Best guitar cleaning kits and tools: Product guide
This really does what it says on the tin – it’s a complete kit for when you want to set up your guitars. It’s got everything you’ll need to tweak the action, adjust the intonation, replace the strings – even tools that will reach all those annoying, hard to reach nuts and screws.
This set has it all – screwdriver, multi-tool, string action gauge, string winder, plus it’s got some more unique accessories too. It comes with fret collars and a fret cloth so you can polish up the frets on your fingerboard to get them as shiny and gleaming as they were when it was new. Guitar techs will love the fact that this set comes with a light too – no more fumbling around the side of a dark stage. You’ve also got some decent body polish, a lubrication gel pen for the nut and an incredibly handy uni-wrench that you can fit underneath volume and tone knobs to loosen or tighten them.
Whether you’re a regular tinkerer, or you just want something that you can rely on a few times a year when it comes to restringing and setting up your guitar, the Dunlop DGT102 set is one of the best guitar maintenance products available, if not the best!
This handy toolkit provides you with everything you need to carry out a restring and make any necessary tweaks to your action. There’s a decent set of string cutters that will be strong enough to use on bass, if you need to, as well as a comprehensive set of Allen keys – whatever you need to adjust, chances are, one of these is going to fit perfectly. You’ve also got a 6-in-1 screwdriver, string height gauge and string winder. All of these tools should be enough for guitar set ups and regular maintenance duties.
On the cleaning side of things, you’re provided with a microfibre cloth (guitarists should always have one of these to hand) as well as some of Ernie Ball’s Wonder Wipes. These are individual wipes that have been specially designed for cleaning dirty strings, the fingerboard and the guitar body – so everything you need for a good clean!
The Ernie Ball Musician’s Toolkit really is one of the best guitar cleaning and maintenance products out there, as it provides players with pretty much everything they’ll need to take care of string changes and setups, plus it all comes in a handy case.
This is something you can leave in your guitar case or gig bag, and take comfort in knowing that it’s there if you need it. Having a wide selection of different tools is great, but sometimes you just want one compact, multi-purpose piece of gear that does the job and doesn’t take up loads of space.
It’s designed a little like a Swiss Army Life, but angling out of the body is a selection of tools that will make your life much easier when it comes to setting up and adjusting your guitar. All contained within it are several Allen keys – handy for adjusting certain truss rods and all manner of saddles and screws, a ruler for setting the string height, and a variety of different screwdrivers. Whether you’re fixing a dodgy input jack, or adjusting your intonation, this is the kind of thing you’ll always want to have to hand.
This is a full and comprehensive collection of polishes and solutions to help keep your guitar looking and feeling fresh. From the body to the fingerboard, to the strings, the Dunlop 6500 System really is one of the best guitar cleaning products out there.
The cream of carnauba body gloss can be used to polish your guitar’s body up, whilst also buffing out light scratches – it also acts as a light barrier against moisture and stains. The polish is ideal for everyday use, helping to clean your guitar and restore it to its original state. Then you’ve got a couple of solutions to help clean and condition your fingerboard, a couple of cotton cloths, plus their Ultraglide string conditioner to keep your strings feeling and sounding fresh.
If you take pride in your guitar, then this is a great kit to have at home. You don’t need to give it the full works every day, but by applying polish fairly regularly, and string conditioner now and again, you’ll help keep your instrument in great shape.
This is a great all-in-one guitar maintenance kit, packaged in a very cleverly designed case. Whilst it’s not cheap, it does offer up everything you’d need when restringing and setting up your guitars to a pro level.
Firstly, you get a non-slip body mat and a neck cradle, so you’ve got somewhere to neatly place your guitar whilst you work on it. You’ve got a handy multi-tool with a variety of hex keys and screwdrivers for making your necessary adjustments, string lubricant for the nut, a ruler and capo for checking string height and neck relief, and a string winder with a cutter on the end – so basically, everything you could need when changing strings and setting your guitar up.
All your tools are kept neatly in the case, which has been really well designed. When you’re working on your guitar, it’s so easy to misplace a tiny screw or spring or something like that. D’addario has thought ahead and made a small pouch so you can keep all your small bits of hardware in one place safely until they’re ready to go back on your guitar – a simple but elegant solution.
This is a kit for players who want the tools to tweak and set their guitars up, on hand, in a nicely designed, compact case. The Fender Custom Shop toolkit is made with guitar maintenance pioneers, GrooveTech and it has everything you need, and nothing you don’t; plus they’re super high quality.
This snazzy kit has the tools you need to make saddle adjustments, tighten up or loosen those hard to get jack inputs, tweak your truss rod and more. All those parts that are difficult to adjust are made easier with this, making it one of the best guitar maintenance products available. You also get a 4-in-1 screwdriver, string winder (so useful for string changing), feeler gauges and a capo. Now a capo is useful for altering the pitch of your guitar when playing, but it’s also handy for keeping the strings in place if you need to take the neck off, and for checking string and neck relief.
It’s made to a great standard, and for those who care about presentation, this ticks the right boxes.
It’s hardly a kit, but if you’re on a strict budget and you want the best guitar cleaning product, then Fast Fret might be the way to go. It’s an incredibly useful thing to keep in your guitar case for using before and after playing to help lengthen the lifetime of your strings and fingerboard.
Fast Fret is basically a lubricant for your strings and fretboard, so it helps give a slicker feel to your guitar. Regardless of whether you’re more of a rhythm, lead or even bass player, this stuff really helps your fingers glide over the strings, plus you’ll prevent them from sounding dull as quickly. If you’ve just restrung your guitar, you’ll want to preserve that fresh string sound for longer, and using Fast Fret helps do that.
It’s made up of a stick with a handle on one end, and the lubricant/polish on the other. It’s super easy to apply, and you get a cloth with it to wipe away any residue.
This is the ultimate screwdriver set for guitarists that are constantly wanting to make small tweaks and changes to their instrument. If what you’ve got can’t be adjusted with the Music Nomad Guitar Tech Screwdriver and Wrench Set, then it’s not worth adjusting!
There are a total of 18 bits that come with the screwdriver, as well as their premium spanner wrench for getting underneath your volume and tone knobs. These screwdriver and hex bits can adjust pretty much everything on your guitar – the bridge, tuning pegs, scratchplate, pickups, pots, tailpiece, tremolo unit and more. If you need to tighten, loosen or adjust something, then this screwdriver and wrench set will be the first and only thing you look to.
It’s all neatly housed in a sturdy aluminium case too, so it’s fully road-worthy.
The clever folks at D’Addario have created a 3-step system for cleaning your guitar. Each step has its own polish or wax, and is very helpfully numbered on the outside of the bottle, so you know where to start. Using these three steps will mean that you can restore, protect and shine up your favored instrument, bringing it back to its former glory.
You’ve then got a fingerboard conditioner that will clean it and improve the feel under your fretting hand; you’ll also be hydrating the wood. It even comes with a cotton polishing cloth that won’t scratch your guitar and will allow you to buffer it all up – good as new!
This essentials kit can help remove grime, dirt, dead skin, minor scratches and more from all parts of your guitar, helping to breathe a bit of life into your instrument.
Best guitar cleaning kits and tools: Buying advice
Why do I need to clean my guitar?
You might think that if your guitar isn’t broken, then there’s nothing that needs doing. However, over time, the strings on your guitar do gather dead skin and dirt from your fingers, and your guitar – which is primarily made of wood and metal, will shift slightly with changes in temperature and humidity. This is where the best guitar cleaning kits and maintenance products come in.
When things move slightly on a guitar, there’s usually a screw, nut or some other sort of adjustment gadget that can be tweaked to move it back to where it needs to be. Over time, you might notice your guitar’s neck starts to bow a little – a quick adjustment of the truss rod can solve this. You might start hearing that notes aren’t fretting completely in tune, which is likely to be an issue with intonation (this is so important when recording). This can be solved by adjusting the string saddles by the bridge.
What type of kit do you need?
Grabbing yourself one or two things from this list will mean that you’ve got the tools to keep your instrument running at its best. Of course, what you choose will likely depend on how far you want to go with it.
When looking at the best guitar cleaning kits and maintenance products, ask yourself what exactly it is you want to do. If you’re playing guitar fairly infrequently, then you might just want to grab something that keeps the strings feeling fresh, so that you don’t have to change them as much.
If you’re a little more serious about the guitar, and you’re playing a lot, then you might want to look at cleaning and maintenance products that you use relatively often. Every time you change your strings, you could check your action and intonation at the same time. If you’re armed with the right tools, then you can save yourself a trip to your local guitar tech.
For many players, their guitar is their pride and joy. Of course, you want it to sound and feel great when you’re playing it, but you also want it to look good! Hey, you didn’t drop all that cash on a PRS for that flame top to not stand out, did you? The best guitar cleaning products can help keep your guitar looking as it came to you from the store. Some will even help you buffer out light marks and scratches too.
Advice on guitar maintenance
Turning screws and adjusting important parts on your guitar might be daunting at first, but it’s always a good idea to start small. Make small incremental adjustments and check after each one to see if what you’re doing is working as you want it to. There’s also a ton of great resources for learning how to set up and restring your guitars online.