How to Properly Store Your Guitar

How to Properly Store Your Guitar for Many Years to Come

No matter how experienced you are with your guitar, even if you’ve only had your instrument for less than a day, you need to take time and learn how to properly store your guitar.

Keeping your guitar in the best shape possible is not only going to help save you time, effort, and frustration, but it’s also going to save you money in the long run.

This is also especially important if you are someone who doesn’t play your instrument frequently and your guitar ends up spending a whole lot of time in storage.

Often, when a person gets their hands on a guitar, they believe that the hard part is over- you’ve figured out what type of instrument you want and the rest will come easy. However, maintaining upkeep on your instrument is the next hardest learning experience that a lot of musicians think they can gloss over or completely ignore.

At the end of the day, the most important lesson that you should take away from this article is that you need to maintain a certain humidity and temerpature level in the room that you’re storing your guitar in.

If you really want to make sure that you’re keeping your guitar in the best condition possible, you need to ensure that you’re properly storing your guitar away when you’re not using it. Properly storing your guitar isn’t a difficult task, but it does take a bit of work and knowledge to understand what you’re doing.

Whether you happen to playing a morn or vintage guitar, acoustic or electric guitar or classical guitar, you’re more than likely playing on an instrument that’s comprised of wood.

Wood is an organic material that’s extremely prone to swelling while in damp conditions and drying out when exposed to heat; both of these situations can ruin the appearance of your instrument and completely alter the sound of your instrument.

The good news for you is that most guitars are made to last a long period of time. While it may not seem like it, guitars are extremely tough instruments and it really isn’t all that uncommon to find guitars that are 20 to 30 years old.

Get yourself a quality case

While you may believe that the biggest purge is going to be a guitar, a guitar case or a gig bag is also an incredibly important investment to make on your guitar journey.

If you’re not someone who is going to be using your guitar on a weekly or a bi-weekly basis, keeping your guitar stored away in a hard case will help to ensure that your guitar is playable for decades to come.

A case not only protects your guitar against any scratches, but it also helps to keep your guitar safe from dirt, dust, and sunlight exposure, which can damage the finish and the color of your guitar.

Some people store their guitars on hooks on a wall, as this holds their guitar in place on a wall that allows your instrument to be placed in a safe and secure place.

There are also guitar stands that are commonly used to display the instrument out in the open. However, if you plan on storing your guitar for a long period of time, a guitar case will be your best bet. A guitar case is portable, practical, and a great way to securely store your guitar.

Keep your guitar away from extreme temperature and humidity

Think of your guitar the same way that you would think of a bottle of fine wine because both fine wine and your guitar are extremely susceptible to humidity and temperature levels. Ensure that you’re not only keeping your guitar away from extreme changes in humidity but also extreme changes in temperature.

The ideal temperature to store your guitar it should be between 70 to 75 degrees. Also, ensure that you’re keeping your guitar away from extreme changes in humidity, so you’re going to want to keep your guitar in a room that has an average humidity of 45 percent to 50 percent.

If you don’t have the ability to control the environment of the room down to specifics, use a dehumidifier.

Heat is literally the biggest enemy for your instrument. You should never keep your guitar, whether it be acoustic, classical, bass, or electric, never store your guitar in an environment that may get extremely hot; heat will damage the wood of your instrument, melt glue, ruin electronics, and will ruin other aspects of your instrument.

However, also ensure that you’re not storing your guitar in anywhere that gets too cold, as cold can do even more damage to your guitar than heat can! This means that you shouldn’t store your guitar in any unfinished basements, attics, garages, or sheds, as these are the types of environments that have extreme fluctuating temperatures.

If you happen to accidentally store your guitar in a room that does get cold, don’t worry! You can take your guitar and put it in a room that’s slightly warm for a few hours before you start playing it!

Excessive dryness or moisture can also destroy your guitar, so you’re going to want to store your instrument in a non-humid place that isn’t too dry.

In order to protect your guitar against any damage that can be caused by leaving your guitar in a dry environment, you can use lemon oil to polish the axe of your guitar and on the rest of the wood on your guitar before going ahead and storing your guitar.

Make sure that if you’re planning on storing your guitar for a long period of time, store your guitar in a hard shell case.

While most guitars are sealed with either a nitrocellulose or a polyurethane finish, the wood can still absorb moisture from the surrounding environment. If you’re storing your guitar in an environment that is too humid, use a dehumidifier for your guitar.

However, if your instrument isn’t in a room that’s humid enough, use a humidifier! There are plenty dehumidifier and humidifiers on the market that is custom made for specific guitar types (acoustic, electric, etc) to ensure the longevity of your instrument.

Keep strings in mind

The amount of tension that is placed on the neck of the guitar actually play a huge part when it comes to properly storing your guitar for a long period of time. When storing your guitar, the neck of the guitar is the most likely to get damaged, because of the amount of pressure that the strings place on the neck of the guitar.

If you know that your guitar is going to be stored for a long period of time, take some of the tension off of the neck of your guitar by unwinding the tuning pegs a few turns. Just make sure that the strings aren’t completely loose!

If your strings happen to be rust or have developed any sort of puts, you need to change your strings! Take the time and develop a personal regiment with your guitar strings; decide that after playing your guitar after X amount of times to change your strings.

Playing on worn strings can cause problems with tuning your guitar, lose their responsiveness, and can have a very blunt and dull tone. Worn strings are also a lot more likely to break, which is the last thing you want to happen while you’re performing!

Check the instrument out ever so often

Guitars are objects that are meant to be used, if not constantly used. If you ever have to store your guitar, ensure that you’re checking up on the instrument every once in a while. That way, you’ll know if any problems arise immeditaly so that you can stop them from getting any worse!

Checking up on your guitar also includes cleaning the instrument. Maintain the nut of the guitar by cleaning dirt and grime that can build u on the notches of the nut of the guitar, as keeping the dirt built up on the nut can limit the string’s ability to slide without any resistance, which can cause tuning problems for your strings.

Be sure that when you’re cleaning your instrument, clean the interior of the nut with a thin nail file (or dental floss) ever-so-often to avoid having this problem!

During the time that you’re cleaning your instrument, also clean and condition your fretboard! You can use a fretboard conditioner or lemon oil and a cleaning cloth to get the job done. Cleaning the fretboard of your instrument can allow your hands and the strings of your guitar to have the least resistance when playing on a clean guitar.

Having a dirty fretboard will hold back your speed and articulation when playing.

Watch out for sunlight and dust too! 

It’s also extremely important to keep your instrument dust free while you’re keeping it in storage. Dust can not only damage the appearance of your guitar, but it can also alter the sound of your instrument.

Dust can scratch the surface of your instrument while also accumulating inside of the guitar, which will alter the resonation and intonation of your instrument. Keeping your guitar dust free just requires you to wipe the instrument down with a dry cloth before you store it and ensuring that you keep the guitar inside of a hard case to protect the guitar.

Dust mainly accumulates around and in the pickup, which typically leads to poor tone and crackling in acoustic guitars, with corrosion and rust around the pick up for electric guitars.

Also ensure that when you store your guitar, keep your instrument away from direct sunlight to prevent any possibility of damage and fading of the finish and color of the guitar.

Things not to do when storing your guitar

While there is a whole list of things that you should do when going to store your guitar, there is also an equally long list of things that you shouldn’t do when storing your instrument, which includes:

  • Don’t ever store a guitar in an unheated room
  • Don’t ever store a guitar on top or leaning against concrete
  • Don’t ever store a guitar in a car when the outside temperature is lower than 50 degrees or warmer out than 70 degrees, even for a short period of time
  • Never store a guitar in an attic, ever! No matter the period of time, don’t let your guitar go inside of an attic because it can seriously damage your guitar
  • Don’t ever store a guitar in an unheated garage that is exposed to a concrete floor
  • Don’t ever store a guitar near a ceiling, because the temperature near a ceiling rises and falls significantly

Conclusion

If you happen to be someone who lives in a dry environment or you happen to heat your home with a wood stove, it’s a great idea to purchase a hygrometer and keep track of the moisture in the environment that you’re storing your guitar in.

However, you should also be careful of taking your guitar camping with you out in damp woods and playing with it in front of a hot fire for a few hours, while then going and re-exposing the instrument to a high moisture environment all night.

If playing the guitar by a campfire in the woods is something that you’re looking to do often, invest in a lower quality guitar in case it does get damaged- it’ll be less expensive to replace!

Most guitars are resilient to smaller changes. The most damaging things that your guitar is going to face is high levels of humidity or extreme temperature changes.

Doing a bit of research on the internet can help you to figure out what the ideal moisture levels are for your instrument. You can also check out what the manufacturer of your guitar suggests for temperature levels and for humidity levels.

The biggest change that your guitar is going to go through (if you take proper care of the instrument) is when your guitar is being shipped out from the climate controlled environment that it’s manufactured in.

Don’t worry if your guitar ends up needing some adjustments once it’s settled into your home; at the very least, your guitar is going to need some changes in tuning.

However, if you store your guitar in a room that isn’t temperature or humidity controlled, your guitar may crack, have a warped back, warped sides, warped tops, or a cracked face.

Before you begin playing your instrument again, make sure that you have your guitar properly inspected before you go and start playing again! Minor intonation problems and tuning problems are extremely common problems to face after storing your instrument for a long period of times.

Tuning and intonation problems aren’t too costly to fix and won’t permanently damage your guitar, however, you should bring your instrument to a guitar repair center to have it checked out and fixed before you begin to play again!

About the Author Danny Trent

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