How to Store a Guitar
Although it may not seem like a necessary skill to have as a guitarist, knowing how to store your guitar properly can help ensure the longevity of your instrument. This knowledge, depending on its application, can also help to prompt creativity when used in a certain way.
Whether you want to know how to store a guitar at home for short-term storage, or for long-term storage, there are certain things you need to know in order to maintain the integrity of your instrument.
Believe it or not, improperly stored guitars can suffer a wide range of problems that could have been prevented with a little extra care and know-how. Some of the issues that may arise due to improperly stored guitars include:
- Rust and oxidation
- Neck issues
- Fret buzz
- Electronics issues
Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can store your guitar (whether it be for a short-term or long-term duration) to avoid having to face these issues with your beloved instrument.
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Short-Term Duration for the Every Day Player
If you are a guitarist that plays every day (or would like to), then having your guitar stored in a way that you can conveniently access it is essential. You’ve likely heard the adage “Keep your guitar within arm’s reach.”
Having your guitar conveniently accessible helps to guarantee that you will be more likely to play the instrument when you have the time. Although, it may not always be possible due to the setup of your living arrangement.
Still, there are solutions that can aid you in this process and it doesn’t have to take a whole lot of work or effort to achieve.
For a quick and easy way to store your guitar in the most accessible way, a guitar stand is a great choice. When placed in the right area of your home, you will likely always see the guitar and be near the instrument, which can prompt you to play more often than you would if the guitar was closed up inside of a case or gig bag.
However, there are some issues with this. Because your guitar is out in the open, it will be subjected to all of the elements in the room including temperature, humidity (or lack thereof), as well as the possibility that it may get knocked over due to unfortunate and unforeseen accidents.
This is something you need to weigh in your mind, especially if you not only play the guitar frequently but also travel with the instrument on a regular basis (such as to band rehearsals or gigs). It might make more sense to leave it on a stand in this instance, due to its frequent use.
Guitar stands also have the added benefit of mobility, allowing you to place the guitar anywhere you may desire. You might want your guitar in one place one week, but need to have it in another location in your house during another week.
Some guitarists like to mount their guitars to the walls of their homes, which not only displays their instruments but allows easy access as well. In fact, some guitar owners use this method to proudly display their guitars as works of art that they are.
Wall mounts can save more space in a room than a guitar stand, but they may not be as convenient due to the fact that you will have to drill the mount into your wall. Your guitar will also be prone to the same environmental factors as seen on the guitar stand, although the chances of the guitar getting knocked over are pretty small.
While a wall mount can save space within a room, the wall mount is more of a permanent fixture. Wall mounts do not allow for the mobility that a guitar stand has.
Also, if you are in a different room than the room with the wall mount, you will need to make sure that the guitar always goes back to the room with the wall mount. Because of this, a wall mount might not necessarily be the most ideal or convenient solution for storage.
While gig bags are often used for travel situations due to their weight and storage capabilities, these can also make a viable solution for storing a guitar, especially for short-term storage.
Due to the fact that many gig bags feature protective padding, gig bags can provide a level of protection against physical damages due to accidents.
However, gig bags do not entirely protect guitars from natural elements such as weather and humidity. For the best protection, a hardshell guitar case is highly recommended. Read on to learn about how to properly store a guitar in a hardshell guitar case.
Long-Term Duration Guitar Storage
If you know that you are going to be storing your guitar for an extended amount of time, there are several things you can do to help maintain the longevity of your guitar. These practices are essential for every guitarist to know.
There is some overlap here, as these long-term solutions can also be viable short-term solutions as well. In general, this is information that every guitarist needs to know to ensure the safety of their guitar.
In the Guitar Case
Storing your guitar in a hardshell case is perhaps the safest thing you can do to maintain the life of your guitar, especially during long-term storage. By storing the guitar in a hardshell case, the guitar will be protected from any physical and environmental factors that may be present in the room.
However, just storing it in its case is not enough, and there are some guidelines to know, especially for long-term solutions.
- If storing a guitar in a guitar case, the guitar case should always be stored in an upright position, as opposed to laying on the ground; always ensure that the case will not have any chance of falling over
- If a guitar case is not able to be securely stored in an upright position, the case should always be laid in such a manner that the face of the guitar is facing upright
- Always store guitar cases in an area that does not have contact with an outside wall, as this will help maintain an equal temperature over the duration of the storage time
- A closet or small enclosure can be an excellent storage space, especially if the guitar case can be stood upright within the storage space
- Especially during extended storage durations, loosen the tension on the strings about a step and a half down from where you normally tune; guitars with no string tension at all will likely experience neck issues during storage
- If your guitar has a vibrato, detach the vibrato arm during storage (unless you have a Bigsby, which can be folded up against the guitar)
- A case humidifier is important, especially if storing guitars in cold climates and winter seasons; this will help maintain the ideal humidity level within the case
Things to Avoid
It can be a nightmare come true when you go to get your guitar out of storage and find that your guitar is in terrible condition and completely unplayable. This is a scenario that no guitarist wants to face.
If you want to properly store your guitar and maintain the integrity of your beloved instrument, there are a few things you should avoid when storing your guitar. By avoiding these actions, you can have peace of mind in knowing that you will have done everything you can to maintain your guitar’s life.
Storage units can be great for the long-term storage of many personal items, especially if you know that you will not be using the items for a long period of time. However, storage units are not ideal for guitars.
Many storage units are not climate-controlled in any manner, and placing your guitar in a storage unit will expose your guitar to extreme climate conditions that will cause major issues with your instrument. This is almost the same as leaving the guitar outside.
While there are climate-controlled storage units, you cannot guarantee that the climate within the storage unit will be ideal for a guitar. Temperature and humidity levels will be out of your control. For this reason, it is best to store a guitar in a room that has a climate you can completely control.
Leaning the Guitar
Every guitarist is guilty at one time or another of leaning their instrument up against a wall, an amplifier, or some other object. This is a major thing to avoid.
Without being in a stand, mount, case, or gig bag, your guitar has no line of defense against physical damage that will likely happen should your guitar happen to fall over.
For instance, if you leave a guitar against a wall or an amplifier, the guitar could easily slide to the side, causing the guitar to fall over. If there is anything in the way during the guitar’s descent, it will have an impact on the guitar, such as a chipped neck, broken tuner, or even a broken headstock.
Leaning a guitar against anything is essentially gambling that you have the exact amount of balance to maintain the guitar in an upright position. However, long-term storage in this manner can have consequences outside of the possible physical accidents that can happen.
Leaning a guitar against a wall requires you to place the guitar at an angle to ensure the guitar maintains a correct balance. Over time, this can have an effect on the neck, causing it to possibly warp.
Storing your guitar in direct sunlight should be avoided at all costs. This is true whether you store your guitar in the open, or within a case or gig bag.
The reason for this is the fact that sunlight can affect the finish of your guitar, causing it to fade over time. When a case or gig bag has direct contact with sunlight, the climate conditions within the case or gigbag change due to the warming effect that sunlight has.
The warmth of sunlight can be highly underestimated, especially on cold wintry days. Take extra care and precautions to ensure that you store your guitar out of direct sunlight to avoid any unforeseen issues.
Do This Before Storage
If you know that you are going to be storing your guitar for an extended period of time, it is beneficial for the guitar to clean your guitar prior to storage. It may not be obvious, but there is a good reason why you may want to do this.
Guitars are subjected to oils and sweat every time you pick up your guitar and play. After some time, this can cause a build-up of oils that can cause serious damage to a guitar during storage.
Oils will likely corrode your components and cause oxidation in places that you wouldn’t normally think of. Cleaning the body of your guitar with a guitar cleaner and polish will help to defend against this type of damage.
It is also beneficial to clean your fretboard and condition it with oil (if possible, not recommended for lacquered maple necks) or a fretboard conditioner suitable for your guitar to prevent the fretboard from cracking or completely drying out.
If you haven’t guessed by now, climate control is everything when it comes to ensuring that your guitar will maintain its ideal condition. Because guitars are mostly made out of wood and electronic components, temperature and humidity will have the greatest effect on a guitar.
Fortunately, there are some methods you can use to ensure that your guitar will be properly stored within an ideal climate to avoid many of the problems and issues that exist with improper climate conditions.
For the most part, the ideal temperature for a guitar, especially during long-term storage, is 65-75 °F. This is usually within the range of a standard room temperature that many people keep within their living spaces.
However, while it sometimes cannot be avoided (particularly during gigging situations), guitars should not be stored in an automobile for any longer than it needs to be. Extreme cold and extreme heat will affect your guitar, especially if left out in these conditions for an extended duration of time.
Ideal Humidity and Humidity Control
Have you ever had a set of barely-played strings rust out? Or maybe you’ve found that the electronic components of your guitar have corroded or are not functioning properly? Humidity is the likely cause of these issues.
Humidity is also known as the level of moisture in the air. Like temperature, water has an extreme effect on the condition of a guitar.
The ideal humidity level for a guitar is around 45-55% within its storage space. Granted, it may be hard to figure out exactly what your humidity level is within a room.
Fortunately, you can purchase a tool called a hygrometer, which measures the level of humidity within a room. Keep in mind that a guitar needs to be kept at a level of humidity that is consistent, as any sudden changes to the humidity level can have an impact on the guitar.
While controlling the humidity within the room that you store your guitar in is important, it is just as important to keep in mind that the guitar case itself will have its own level of humidity. This humidity level is as vitally important as the room humidity.
To properly maintain the humidity level within your guitar case, it is highly recommended that you purchase a guitar case humidifier, especially for those of you storing acoustic guitars.
There are many guitar case humidifiers made especially for acoustic guitars. More often than not, these will sit somewhere within the soundhole of the acoustic guitar, never touching the actual finish of the guitar.
These types of case humidifiers will usually contain an internal sponge that will need to be wetted with water once a month or so. Once the internal sponge is sufficiently moistened, it will release the correct amount of water needed at regular intervals to maintain ideal humidity conditions within the case.
While you are storing your guitar, do take the time to play your guitar and ensure that the condition of your guitar is being properly maintained.
Whether you play your guitar all the time or store your guitar more than you play it, it is essential to remember that no guitar is exempt from needing occasional adjustments.
If you notice that an adjustment needs to be made during storage, take the time to make the proper adjustments, whether it be a simple truss rod adjustment or adjustments to the bridge. This helps to ensure that your guitar will maintain its ideal setup during storage.
If you simply neglect your guitar during the time of storage and do not take the time to play it and make the proper adjustments when needed, the guitar is susceptible to bigger issues that could have been prevented with the proper maintenance.
How to Store a Guitar, Final Thoughts
Guitars are a very personal instrument that many guitarists hold near and dear. Properly maintaining and storing a guitar is essential to providing a long life of companionship with your guitar.
Despite the fact that guitars are largely comprised of wood and electronic components, these instruments breathe and are highly affected by climate conditions. Improper storage can cause a wealth of issues that might not only cost quite a lot of money to repair but could also put your guitar in a permanently unplayable condition.
This possibility often causes anxiety amongst guitarists, especially if they have had incidents in the past where they have opened their case to find that their guitar has degraded. Events like these can indeed cause quite a lot of uncertainty, guilt, and shame, knowing there was likely a better way to store the guitar.
Like any item that is to be depended upon for a long duration of time, proper maintenance is an essential factor to ensuring that your guitar will live a long and playable life.
Fortunately, with the information provided in this article, you can have peace of mind knowing that you have taken the proper precautions in storing your guitar, whether it be for short-term or long-term durations.
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