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When it comes to storing a guitar, it’s important to take certain precautions. This will ensure its longevity and maintain sound quality.
The last thing you want is a damaged instrument due to improper storage. Especially when it’s so easy to learn how to store a guitar!
Hard and soft guitar cases, stands and wall hangers are the most conventional methods. These guitar storage options are effective and affordable. But using them properly and in the right environment is also key.
In this Killer Rig article, we will share the best practices for storing a guitar. Plus, we will offer practical tips to help you protect your instrument.
Is Proper Storage Important?
Proper guitar storage techniques will protect your instrument. But you might be wondering what you are protecting it from? Here is a list of things that can happen if the guitar is not stored correctly.
- Physical damage.
- Lifted bridge or saddle.
- Incorrect action.
- Fret buzz.
- Sharp frets.
- Shrunken wood.
- Cracks and bulges.
- Warped neck.
- Tuning issues.
- Rusted hardware.
- Damaged Finishes.
As you can see, the benefits are numerous! Considering proper storage now will also prevent any expensive repairs later!
How to Store a Guitar
Proper storage of a guitar is crucial for maintaining its condition and longevity. Leaning your guitar against a table or wall is not a safe storage method.
Even when using one of the recommended methods, certain precautions should be taken. Here are some of the safest and most effective ways to store your guitar.
Hard Shell Case
Storing your guitar in a hard case is the best storage option. Not only does it protect from impact! But it can also keep the environment conditioned.
A hard case must be used correctly, however. For long term storage, always make sure to keep the case on its side or straight up.
If you store it laying down, gravity will put force on the neck. This can have a bad effect on the guitar! Especially if you have a thinner neck on your instrument. It could eventually lead to warping. So always try and keep the case on it’s side when a guitar is inside.
A hard case is also a better option when traveling or gigging. This will prevent any damage from knocks, drops or bumps. So if the guitar will need to go in the back of a truck, get yourself a hard case!
It can also be very beneficial to invest in a guitar case humidifier. These go right into the case and adjust the environment without you having to worry about it!
If you choose to store your guitar in a soft case, there are a few additional precautions to take.
First, it’s important to store the guitar in a room with a stable temperature and humidity level. Rapid changes in temperature and humidity can cause damage to the instrument.
The ideal temperature is roughly 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) and the best humidity range is between 40-50%.
Second, make sure to store the guitar in a place where it won’t be bumped or knocked over. Even in a soft case, damage can result in a nasty fall. Again, you also want to make sure that the case is stored on it’s side.
For long term storage, a soft case is fine, but keep it on the side or straight up. This will prevent gravity from pulling on the neck.
If you leave it on its back, the neck could warp. Also make sure it fits your guitar perfectly. Movement inside the case can cause damage if it’s excessive.
Using a guitar stand is also a great way to store your instrument. Especially if you want it within reaching distance and easily accessible.
But there are a few things to keep in mind when using one. First, make sure the stand is the right size. If it’s not, the guitar can fall over. All it takes is a simple bump in some cases.
Another important consideration is the environment. Store it in proper humidity levels and in a location that is safe from bumps and knocks. Also, keep it out of direct sunlight to protect the finish. Otherwise, a stand is perfect and not overly hard on the neck!
Just make sure that the foam or rubber that is used to hold the guitar won’t damage the finish! Not all finishes are equal, some are pretty sensitive.
Using wall hangers is also a great storage device. Some people believe that guitar hangers hurt the neck, but this isn’t true.
Because they hang from the headstock, the neck can keep its bow just fine. Gravity won’t be able to pull down on the neck either, so this method is a good choice.
Wall hangers are the best bet if you are storing guitars in a small room. This way, you can hang them vertical and prevent floor space from being used just for storage.
However, the guitar is exposed to the environment, so just like a stand, you must condition the air. Proper humidity and temperature must be maintained. And don’t use hangers in areas of direct sunlight. Nothing ruins a guitar finish faster!
Related: Can guitars get wet?
How to Prepare Your Guitar For Storage
Once you have decided on a guitar storage solution, you must also consider preparation. Here are a few things to do before putting it away for a long period.
Clean It Thoroughly
Before storing your guitar, it’s crucial to give it a thorough cleaning. Wipe down the entire guitar, including the strings and fretboard. Use a clean and dry microfiber cloth.
If there are any fingerprints, smudges, or dust on the surface, use a guitar cleaner. But one that is designed specifically for the finish.
Applying a light coat of guitar polish can also help protect the finish during storage. And a good oil for the fretboard can help with additional protection.
Loosen the Strings
When storing your guitar, you might consider loosening the strings. This is important with acoustic guitars. This is because the saddle is normally glued to the body.
The tension and aging of the glue can lift the bridge. Many players have returned to a guitar to find the bridge lifted!
The strings just need to be loosened slightly to relieve some of the strain. But not completely removed. A step or two will be fine.
The neck shouldn’t move, so it’s preferable to keep a little pressure on them. However, if you keep it stored on the side, this ought to be alright.
Things are different with the electric guitar. The strings don’t need to be loosened. In fact, since the truss rod and neck will remain stable, it is preferable not to. The bridge won’t move anytime soon because it is mechanically secured!
Choose the Right Location
The final step in proper guitar storage is selecting an appropriate location. The ideal storage area should have moderate humidity. But also an ideal temperature, and minimal exposure to direct sunlight.
An area that is not frequently used, such as a spare room or a closet, would be an excellent choice. Away from outside walls if possible.
Avoid storing your guitar in areas that are prone to dampness. Again, temperature fluctuations are also a guitar killer. So the attic or basement might be a poor choice. But you will need to be the judge of that, as every home is different!
Keep Direct Sunlight off Your Guitars
One often overlooked aspect of guitar storage is the potential harm caused by direct sunlight. While a sunlit room might provide a visually appealing spot to display your guitar, prolonged exposure to sunlight can have damaging effects on your instrument.
Sunlight, particularly its ultraviolet (UV) component, can cause significant damage to a guitar’s finish over time. Just as UV rays can cause colors to fade on fabrics and paintings, they can also cause the color of your guitar’s finish to fade or discolor.
This is particularly true for guitars that have nitrocellulose lacquer finishes, which are more vulnerable to UV rays. A once-vibrant clear coat and a lovely sunburst finish can both become lifeless and dreary with time.
In addition, plastic parts of your guitar, like pickguards or control knobs, may potentially be harmed by sunlight. These components may fracture or break as they age and become more brittle.
Therefore, it’s crucial to store your guitar in a place that avoids direct sunlight. If your music room has large windows, consider using UV-blocking curtains or blinds during the sunniest parts of the day.
Long Term Storage Checklist
If you have a rather large collection of guitars, not all of them can be used. So long term storage is the solution, but you need to make sure they are ready. So I have created this checklist to help you with final prep!
- Good Cleaning: Removing oils and grime can help prevent rust and other finish issues.
- Identification: Take pictures and record serial numbers, just in case the worst should happen.
- Correct case: Again, your choice of case is incredibly important. Go with a hard shell every time.
- Prepared Environment: Humidity and temperature must be just right for the long term.
- Loosen the Strings: This is more important with acoustic guitars, but can benefit them all.
- No Stacking: Keeping weight off of the case will prevent any damage, if possible don’t stack them.
- Keep them elevated: If possible, keep the guitars off of the floor. Should your storage area flood, they could be damaged.
- Consider Insurance: Depending on where they are stored, it might be good to have insurance on your guitars.
Is it OK to store a guitar flat?
No, it’s best not to lay a guitar down flat on its back. This is because gravity will be pulling on the neck.
While in most cases damage will not result, this is just extra force that doesn’t need to be applied. So when possible, it is always best to store a guitar in a case on it’s side.
Can you leave a guitar in the garage?
If your garage is controlled in both temperature and humidity, then it’s fine. But if your garage is left to the natural elements, then no, this is a bad idea. Especially if it gets cold and dry or even hot and damp. This is a recipe for disaster!
Can I store my guitar in the basement?
Yes, you can store a guitar in the basement. But just be mindful of the environment and moisture levels. Some basement floors are not sealed and can emit moisture without actually looking wet.
This can affect your guitar negatively, so just be sure that the area is safe for storage. If you leave the case on the floor, it might also be damaged by moisture. So keep them off of the floor.
Can a guitar be stored standing up in a gig bag?
Yes, it’s perfectly fine to store a guitar standing up and in a gig bag. Most people will put guitars in a soft case and put them in a closet. Most times, this means they are vertical. If this is you, then it’s fine.
My only advice would be to make sure the floor isn’t concrete, nor is it in a basement. Again, moisture could seep from the floor and into your bag. Also, check on it frequently to verify that it’s ok.