How To Clean A Bass Guitar

person adjusting a guitar on table

How To Clean A Bass Guitar

Cleaning a Bass Guitar


  • You need to clean your bass regularly to maintain good sound quality and appearance.
  • You can perform a basic bass cleaning with a soft cloth and some guitar polish.
  • The same rules for cleaning a standard guitar also apply to bass.

Even if you have the best bass guitar on the market, you need to perform regular bass guitar maintenance to keep it in tip-top shape, cleaning off skin oils, dust, and dirt from practice sessions, performances, or even just hanging around on a guitar stand. Luckily, keeping your bass clean doesn’t take too long, and you’ll appreciate how it looks and plays after a deep cleaning. So, read on to learn how to clean a bass guitar.

Bass Guitar Maintenance

If you know how to build a bass guitar, that should give you an idea of which areas might need special attention. In addition, you should understand how to change bass strings before tackling a deep clean.

Many players might simply clean their bass guitar with a clean cloth, but you need multiple microfiber towels and special supplies, such as fingerboard oil, guitar polish, and non-abrasive brass polish, for a deeper clean. The process is nearly identical for 4-string vs 5-string bass guitars, but you’ll need the correct string set for your model.

You want to ensure that you use the correct cleaning product on the right parts of the bass guitar. Otherwise, you may end up fixing the bass input jack or building a new bass neck thanks to errant cleaning fluid.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time Required: 30 minutes
  • Total Steps: 8
  • Tools Needed: Microfiber cloth, Guitar polish, Brass polish, Bass strings, Cotton swabs.

Step 1 – Remove the strings and place them to the side. Soak the bass strings in denatured alcohol for 12-24 hours.

Step 2 – Grab a spray bottle of guitar polish and apply some to a dry cloth. Massage the polish into the bass body using a circular motion on the front and back.

Step 3 – Take a separate soft cloth, and polish all the metal parts attached to the guitar except for the frets and pickups. You can use a mild bass polish if you want, but it should not touch any wood parts.

Step 4 – Use cotton swabs to clean any dust or dirt on the pickups and in the crevices between the wood and metal. 

Step 5 – Rub the fingerboard with a soft cloth to remove any dirt. Then apply fingerboard oil to a clean cloth and massage it into the wood.

Step 6 – You can polish the frets with an inexpensive jewelry polishing cloth. Avoid using abrasive jewelry polish because it can tarnish the fretboard’s wood and metal components.

Step 7 – Remove the bass strings from the denatured alcohol and dry them with a cloth.

Step 8 – Restring your bass guitar, and it should be clean and ready to play.

How to Clean a Bass Guitar FAQs

Is Boiling Good For Strings?

Many bass players claim to place their bass strings in boiling water when they want to clean their set. Unfortunately, this cleaning method isn’t very effective or efficient for renewing your sound quality.

How do guitar strings get dirty?

When you play your bass guitar, it will inevitably get dirty due to transferred sweat, oil, and dead skin from your hands. If you fail to keep your strings clean, they will eventually become less responsive and might even start to corrode, affecting the sound quality. A good bass player wants their entire instrument to be clean to ensure a smooth bass sound.

When do I need new strings?

If you notice a change in sound quality or the instrument won’t stay in tune, consider changing your strings. If you play regularly, you should change your strings roughly every six to eight weeks or when you have a broken or rusty string. 


According to a 2021 survey from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas is the top U.S. state for professional musical instrument repairers and tuners. (Source)

Tips & Warnings


Keep your bass clean to maintain a high-quality sound for a longer period of time.


Never use furniture polish to clean your bass guitar body or fretboard. It can dry out the wood and damage body components.


Coby McKinley
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