Electric bass maintenance must be done thoroughly and on an ongoing basis, but many bassists only clean the body of the instrument. Therefore, it is important to review the advice of specialists and take care of all parts of the instrument, so that the life of the bass is more durable.
To start with the cleaning tips, you should take into account that it is not mandatory to purchase accessories or special maintenance kits. However, by purchasing and using these tools, you can clean your instrument more easily.
It is also important that before continuing with this maintenance guide you know that, generally, each of the steps will work for both bass and electric guitar. This is because the design of both instruments is similar, since they have the same head, fingerboard, body, strings, electrical system and other parts. The elements that most differentiate these two chordophones are the size, number of strings, microphones and sound. Next, we present the most important aspects that you must take into account to make an optimal maintenance to the bass.
What do you need to clean the electric bass?
After making a comparison of bass and acquiring a specific model, it is best to review this aspect. First of all, you need a soft, totally dry cloth. This inexpensive accessory is typically used for polishing or buffing and dusting. Likewise, it is important that you have an Allen key, screwdriver and cutting pliers, because with these tools you can adjust the core of the bass, remove covers or remove strings more quickly.
On the other hand, it is essential that you have special liquids for each type of material. For example, the strings and body of the instrument use different cleaning fluids, as the former are made of metal, but the other mentioned area is made of wood.
Clean or change the strings
For this phase of maintenance you must look at the state of the metal, that is, if the strings are rusted, you must change them. However, when the strings are still useful for weeks or months, it is best to clean them.
We advise you to clean the strings with a special liquid, which you can find on the Internet without problems. On the other hand, if the bass requires changing the strings, remove tension from all of them and begin to remove them. You can do this by turning the pins. In a few seconds you can remove all the strings. However, when there is a rope stuck you can use the pliers, so that you cut and remove it easily.
Once you have removed the strings, the dirt on the fingerboard will be clearly visible, so it will be easier to clean. There are also various liquids on the market to remove dirt and polish the fingerboard.
For this step, use a dry cloth and remove the dust, then another soft and clean fabric with which you can apply the liquid to the wood of the fingerboard. Of course, you should wait for the area to dry well before mounting the new strings.
Bridge, Pegs, and Outer Body Maintenance
Both the bridge and the pegs are almost always the same material, so you can use the same liquid, for example, one that is special to shine the metal, which is a material widely used in these parts of the electric bass.
In addition, the external body, which also includes the bass handle, can be cleaned with a special liquid for wood, which is very common in maintenance kits for guitars and basses.
Potentiometer preventive cleaning
This is extremely important advice for all bassists and guitarists, because the knobs sometimes deteriorate, getting stuck or emitting annoying distortion when turned.
Therefore, to prevent this inconvenience, we recommend removing the cover of the instrument’s electrical circuit and placing clean spray contacts on each potentiometer. In this way, they will last much longer to live, without making noise when they are turned. It should be noted that to remove the cover of the electrical circuit you can use a screwdriver.
Electric Bass Calibration
The most common problem with basses and electric guitars is that they lose their calibration, because when you have been playing the instrument for a long time you feel that it sounds out of tune. This happens because as long as you use the bass, the wood is affected or the soul bends, creating a curve that the fingerboard and neck of the instrument should not have.
Therefore, even if you play the notes accurately, the tuning of each one will not be correct. In addition, it should be noted that this is also caused by changes in climate or weather. For example, the woods of these instruments are sometimes affected by changes in the weather between winter and summer, causing the fingerboard to tighten or bend a bit.
Although this change in the fretboard is minimal, the sound of instruments can vary considerably in terms of tuning. For that reason, you should calibrate your instrument every 3 or 6 months, depending on the type of use and the places where you play with it.
To calibrate it you will need the allen key that adjusts the soul of the fingerboard. In addition, a digital tuner, for example a clip, is required to check that the notes are in tune at each fret. Of course, if the detune or fretting continues, it is best to take the bass to a specialist.
Kits for the maintenance of basses and electric guitars
Dunlop System 65 Total Maintenance Kit for Guitar is one of the most complete, as it is a set of liquids and tools that can help you to leave the instrument as new. The package includes Carnauba wax, which adds shine to surfaces. Plus, it comes with Ultraglide 65 String Cleaner, Conditioning Oil, Fingerboard Cleaner, Micro Fine Fret Chamois, two extra Chamois, and the Maintenance Guide.
On the other hand, we recommend the Dunlop 65 Guitar Tech Kit, which includes the Ultimate Lemon Oil, a Dunlop crank, the Ultraglide 65 string cleaner, a Micro Fine cloth and two cotton chamois. With the latter you can clean and polish the fingerboard and body of the instrument.