Can Guitars Get Wet? Play In The Rain?

Can guitars get wet? This is a question that many guitarists have pondered in terror when rain or another source of water gets on their guitar. But the answer isn’t cut and dry. See what I did there.

A guitar can handle some water as long as it doesn’t come into contact with unfinished surfaces. For example, if it begins to rain on your electric guitar while you play it, this will be fine as long as it doesn’t get into the control cavities and electronics. You must dry it off as soon as possible.

In this article, we are going to discuss the possibilities of water damage, when to worry, and how to protect your guitar

Can Guitars Get Wet?

Just like any other musical instrument, guitars are made of different materials that each have their own sensitivity to water. For example, guitars with a solid body can handle more moisture than those with a laminate wood body.

An acoustic guitar can get wet as long as it isn’t a lot of water and the outer surfaces are finished and sealed. If the water gets into the body, however, the unfinished wood will begin to absorb it and could be damaged.

An electric guitar can also get wet, but you have to be more careful. The electronics in an electric guitar are susceptible to water. If water gets into them, it could cause shorting or premature failure of parts, which would require replacement.

Some finishes are also sensitive to water. It’s not guaranteed that the water won’t leave stains or marks if it sits long enough. What’s worse is if a lot of water sits on the wood of the guitar for long enough, slowly being absorbed into the fretboard or neck. This can cause it to warp, swell and blister to a point that is unrepairable.

Can You Play Guitar In The Rain?

The best answer is: it depends. If it’s a light rain, and you have an electric guitar with a solid wood body, then you should be fine as long as you don’t let the water get into the electronics and don’t overexpose it to the moisture.

However, if it’s a downpour or the rain is coming at you sideways, then it’s probably best to take cover and wait it out. Heavy rain can soak an electric guitar to the point that not only could it be damaged, but it may become dangerous to the player as a shock potential could be created.

An acoustic guitar will possibly take on a lot of water in a downpour, which could be damaging quite quickly. If you are supposed to perform and the weather looks poor, it’s best to try and plan to cover your instrument if it starts to rain when possible.

Electric guitar in the rain

What To Do if Your Guitar Gets Wet

If your guitar gets wet, the best thing you can do is take it inside and dry it off as soon as possible. If it was exposed to a lot of water, then there are different methods of drying them off.

Electric Guitars

If your electric guitar was soaked by water, then there are a few areas of concern that need to be addressed right away. In most cases, the solid wood body will be protected by the finish, try and dry off the finished parts with a towel or rag quickly.

If the guitar has a bolt-on neck and the water got into the cavity, then it’s best to remove it from the body. The neck cavity is not normally finished and might have wood that can soak up the water, which could then swell and deform the surface. Remove the strings, unbolt the neck and dry the cavity the best you can.

If the electronics get wet, then you will need to remove the pickguard or other covers that will allow you to access them. Dry the components the best you can, using rags and even a hair dryer in order to speed up evaporation. You can also use contact cleaner to help deal with any moisture.

If metal parts were exposed to water, then there is a good chance they could rust. Pickups and the parts they are made of will rust, so drying them thoroughly is critical. You may even need to inspect your strings for rust.

wet acoustic guitar

Acoustic Guitars

Acoustic guitars are a little more difficult to deal with if they get wet, as water can damage the wood. Begin by using a towel to soak up any wood on the finish as quickly as you can. If spots are left behind, you may be able to buff them out.

The biggest concern is if water gets inside the acoustic guitar. If it does, stuff the guitar with towels and rags to soak up as much as you can. If you are quick enough, you can prevent damage from occurring.

Once you have soaked up as much water as you can with towels, then you can use a hair dryer to heat the moisture and try and have it dry faster. Just be very careful not to heat the glue used to assemble the guitar.

Apply heat liberally, moving around the instrument, so you don’t overheat any one area and cause damage. If the guitar has a sound hole, then you can insert a fan to help circulate air and dry the inside of the acoustic.

If your acoustic has built-in electronics, it’s very important to try and dry them as well as soon as you can. A room with a dehumidifier can also help remove any additional moisture from a guitar if left for a day or two after getting wet.

Learn what to watch for if the guitar is too dry here!

Is Water Damage Repairable?

The good news is that in most cases, water damage to a guitar is repairable. The key is to act quickly and not let the water soak in too much. It’s also important to be very careful when you are drying off and cleaning the guitar, as you can cause more damage if you’re not careful.

If your guitar has been damaged by water, the best thing to do is take it to a professional technician or luthier and have them inspect it. They will be able to tell you what needs to be done in order to repair the damage and get your guitar back in playing condition.

Conclusion

Guitars and water don’t mix, but if your instrument does get wet, then there are steps you can take to try and dry it off and prevent further damage. Be very careful when you are handling a wet guitar, as you can easily cause more damage. If possible, take it to a professional to have them act quickly and make any necessary repairs.

FAQs

Are some guitars waterproof?

No, there are no waterproof guitars. While some finishes can resist water better than others, all guitars are susceptible to damage if they get wet.

Can you wash a guitar with soap and water?

No, you shouldn’t wash a guitar with soap and water. Soap can leave behind a residue that can damage the finish of the guitar. Water can also damage the wood and glue used to make the guitar.

How do I protect my guitar from the rain?

The best way to protect your guitar from the rain is to keep it in a case when you’re not playing it. If it needs to be outside temporarily for a gig, then cover the case as well with a plastic tarp to keep water out. Otherwise, keep it indoors away from the weather.

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Don East

My name is Don East, I'm the editor for Killer Rig. I've been playing guitar for over 20 years and have designed and manufactured products like guitar amps, effects pedals, and more. Over the years I have played in many bands and have a deep love for quality gear. I am an electrical engineer and have a passion for music gear, and now want to share what I know with the community!