It is an established fact that guitars are the ‘over pampered princesses’ of instruments and as such, extra measures should be taken in order to properly take care of them and ensure they have a longer life span and a healthy functioning system. Whether you have less than 2 guitars or as many as 10, it is important to know the best way to store them especially when not in use. If you make use of them frequently, bringing them in and out of their cases will involve a lot of stress and inconvenience both for you, and for your instrument which is why a guitar stand or guitar wall hanger is much recommended for guitars that are used on a regular basis; ease of access is one of the reasons why you need a guitar stand.
Long-term storage: Hard-shell case or soft gig bags?
Hard shell case provides the best protection there is for your instrument, changes in temperature definitely affects both hard cases and soft bags but the effect is more adverse on soft bags. Hard cases act as a barrier against dust or dirt, climate, temperature and humidity changes; it is sturdier and limits the amount of harm or physical damage done to the guitar to the barest minimum.
What climate is best for my guitar?
It is best advised to store your guitar in a temperature-controlled environment, monitor the guitar from time to time especially if you live in an area that is adversely affected by climate. If the weather is too cold and your guitar gets very dry, it may start to experience cracks in the finish, the wood starts to shrink and the neck and bridge may bend or break; if it is too hot, the glue that is used to fix the bridge or fretboard can soften and become weak which will cause the guitar to give way eventually; too much or lack of humidity can also cause a great damage on your guitar from growing molds to swelling, to fret buzz to a warped neck, and it may eventually change the sound of your guitar; a good idea will be putting a humidifier or dehumidifier into the guitar case while in storage so that it can add or remove moisture in the guitar’s environment; get yourself a hygrometer and always be aware of the degree of humidity and temperature. The ideal humidity range for guitars is between 45% to 55% while the ideal temperature is between 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 21 to 24 degrees Celsius.
Where should I store my guitar?
Store your guitar in cases and keep the cases on a guitar stand preferably in the centre of the building. Don’t lay your guitar case flat on the ground and stack other guitars or other things on top of it, you’re in a grave danger of losing your guitar. Guitar cases are mostly made of plastic and sometimes wood, and plastics tend to dent inwards as pressure is mounted on them over a long period of time, that dent is sure to cause great damage to your guitar. Never store your guitar in a basement, garage, attic or any other part of the house where it is difficult to get a temperature-controlled environment, storing your guitar in places like that will further expose it to heat, cold, dryness or extreme moisture – especially if it is even laid on the floor. If you do not have a guitar stand big enough to contain all your cases, stack the cases upright in a cupboard, make sure nothing is leaning against it, and they are not leaning against each other. Keep the cases away from windows where they can have access to direct sunlight that can crack the finish or change the colour of your guitar and directly under air conditioning units; these are extremely hot and extremely cold temperatures. Never store your guitar in the trunk of a car nor lean it directly against a wall.
How should I store my guitar?
Strings add a lot of tension on the neck of a guitar; that tension worsens when the guitar is not handled, tuned or dis-tuned frequently and the tension would definitely cause the neck of the guitar to bend or snap. Before storing your guitar, loosen the strings a little bit by tuning it one or 2 steps down; you do not have to take it out completely, the strings still need to have a little tension even though it wouldn’t be as much as the regular tension because no tension at all could make the neck of the guitar to bow. If the guitar has a truss rod, turn it back to its neutral state so that the neck of your guitar can rest in a stress-free form. To add a further layer of protection, you can put a sheet of newspaper between the loosened strings and the fretboard so that even if the strings have been exposed to moisture and are starting to rust, it will not affect the fretboard.
Should I clean my guitar before storing away?
The simple answer is YES! Dirt, dust and grime build up on your guitar over time as you play, it is important to thoroughly clean your guitar and fretboard before storing it away for a long time. Use a piece of soft cotton cloth and some lemon oil to work through the fretboard, the lemon oil helps to keep the wood from cracking while it is being kept away. Not sure how to go about that? Check out this article:
How to properly clean your guitar
Don’t forget to check up on your guitar every once in a while. Even if it has been ‘kept away’, still visit it at least once in every 2 months to check if it is still in its proper shape and detect harm/danger on the guitar on time as well make necessary arrangements to get it fixed, if need be.
There, you have it! Many people see guitars as pets, I think I do too. Treat your guitar the same way you would your pet, keep them away from places you wouldn’t like to be. I hope you found these tips useful? Let me know by dropping a comment below.