Overall Rating: 4.3 (of 5)
Before You Practice
Now, before you even pick up your guitar, there are several issues that you should be aware in order to make your playing not only sound better but will also make it easier to play. Am I kidding? No, if you follow this lesson you will find it easier to play guarenteed.
First and most important- Wash you hands before you play. You don't need to be ready for brain surgery but simply washing your hands with a common dishwashing detergent will rid your hands of excess oils and dirt that WILL contaminate your strings, frets, fingerboard as well as everything your fingers come in contact with. Like that Twinkie your holding right now.
Second- keep your guitar clean! This means leave it in the case whenever your not playing it. If you don't have a case and just use a stand, you can cover your guitar with a spare sheet to keep dust down. When your finished practicing or playing, completly wipe down your guitar including fretboard, frets and all strings. You should keep your fretboard well cleaned and polished, I suggest linseed oil but any fretboard cleaner/finisher will probably do this just fine. This can be done during a string change and won't need recleaning till the next change as long as you follow the other advice.
Third- Strings wear out, CHANGE THEM OFTEN!! If you wash your hands and keep your guitar clean, your strings will benifit but they will still wear out. As a rule of thumb, when you notice your strings are starting to tarnish (only if your keeping your guitar clean) change them. When you store your guitar in it's case, your strings don't collect dust and don't tarnish as quickly. When you play, your fingers leave trace oils that do tarnish the strings, so when your strings start looking bad, they're probably starting to sound bad also.
Fourth- Beg, borrow or steal a quality tuner and keep spare batteries and keep your guitar in tune!!
Well, that's it. My first lesson. Basically common sense but they took me a couple of years to figure out by myself.
Enjoy and Rock on!!