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William Cumpiano's
Proper Care Guidelines                
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I thought you all might be interested in reading my "Proper Care Guidelines" which I include with all my new-guitar paperwork. I express to my customers that after they buy my guitars and the guitar leaves my shop, I feel that the customer and I remain in a sort of  permanent "partnership" that insures the future and ongoing  well-being of this rather fragile and highly-optimized instrument. My role in the partnership is to cheerfully and promptly repair or refurbish any fault of mine in the construction or design of the instrument,  and the customer’s role is to strictly follow the "Proper Care Guidelines."   If there is evidence that the customer has not kept up his/her role in the partnership, i.e., followed the guidelines, I will charge for the repair. This system works rather well. I’ve made something in the order of 500 instruments during my career, and I’ve had to repair the flaws on barely five or six—not counting the dozen or so  neck resets that I did for free because the instrument required them after a time period that I considered premature.

PROPER CARE GUIDELINES
for your new Cumpiano instrument


KEEP THE INSTRUMENT IN A PROPER CASE WHEN NOT IN USE

The case acts as a "shock absorber" for damaging temperature and humidity shifts, and against physical damage. Repair studios are kept busy by instrument owners who leave their instrument on their bed or leaning up against the wall. Remember, the outside of the instrument is the case. The finish is not: it's just for keeping dirt off the wood, and for making it look pretty. The instrument should only be in two places: in your arms or IN THE CASE. Instruments on stands are ok, until you walk into them. Keep the instrument/case away from heat sources. Storing or transporting the instrument in a soft, padded gig bag voids the warranty.

PROTECT YOUR INSTRUMENT AGAINST EXCESSIVE DRYNESS

As soon as the radiators in your home heat up, the air starts to bake dry. A dry environment for your instrument causes its wood to shrink. The instrument's design and construction allows its plates to "move" to some extent in response to humidity shifts, but prolonged and chronic dryness will cause them to eventually crack. If you can't humidify the air in your house during the heating season with a humidifying machine, then at least keep a moist soundhole humidifier in the instrument throughout the heating season. Protruding fret-ends, dropped action, shrunken glue seams, wood cracks are evidence of excessive dryness. Failure to keep the instrument appropriately humidified during the heating season voids the Warranty. A humidifying machine in your studio is an excellent idea, as long as its humidstat is adjusted and set correctly. Place the instrument across the room from the humidifying machine.

PROTECT YOUR INSTRUMENT FROM TEMPERATURE SHOCKS

Allowing the instrument to freeze and then exposing it to sudden extreme heat WILL crack your instrument. Example: after leaving your instrument in the trunk of the car overnight in the wintertime, the frozen instrument is then brought inside and pulled out of its case to play in front of a raging wood stove...CRACK! If the instrument feels icy to the touch, return it to its' case and place it in a cooler room until it warms slowly.

PROTECT THE INSTRUMENT FROM FREQUENT FREEZING

The instrument can be frozen without damage (see above for exception). However, frequent freezing and thawing will cause unsightly "spider-webbing" to appear in the finish: it's the wood moving under the thin, glass-like finish.

PROTECT THE INSTRUMENT FROM EXCESSIVE HEAT

As long as it's placed in a well-ventilated area, the instrument can withstand heat up to 110 F. (Above that temperature the glue will begin to release). In a closed automobile or in a windowed alcove, the direct rays of the sun can raise the temperature to that level and beyond, seriously damaging your instrument.

 

PROTECT THE INSTRUMENT FROM INCOMPETENT REPAIRS

Entrust the repair and adjustment to only those persons who have long experience working on the finest instruments and who are recommended without qualification. Future problems arising from shoddy repair work done previously may void the Warranty and will not be corrected within its terms.

DO NOT WORRY ABOUT DIRT, or NICKS, BUMPS OR SCRATCHES IN THE FINISH

You'd be surprised at the lengths that instrument owners will go to, to forbid any evidence of use or wear on their instruments. But beware, these lengths may be more harmful than the wear itself. Normally, dirt and scratches will in no way harm or threaten the instrument. The instrument's finish is principally cosmetic. It simply provides a barrier film for dirt and water stains. It is NOT expected to protect the instrument from excessive humidity and dryness, cracking or any other damage (note that all the interior surfaces of the soundbox are unfinished). It is the owner who should protect the instruments from these assaults, not the finish. The finish, however is washable and repairable, but in NO WAY requires waxes, polishes or oils in order to be "replenished" or "fed." If need be, a barely damp sponge can be used to occasionally remove dirt accumulation. Occasionally, a fine abrasive liquid cleaning compound such as Martin or Gurian "cleaner" can be used to remove fine scratches and scuff marks. DO NOT buy or use any aerosol product, no matter what the salesman says. They usually contain silicones which wreak havoc by making future repair work all but impossible. Evidence of slick silicone polish voids the Warranty. Fingerboards can be periodically scrubbed clean with 000 steel wool and a bit of naphtha, xylol or turpentine, followed by the application of fingerboard oil. Buff excess off with a soft rag before re-stringing.

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