Whether you are an avid collector or you’ve recently discovered a passion for playing these iconic musical instruments, you’ll surely want to keep your guitars in pristine playing condition, which is why leaning how to store them properly is absolutely essential. Unfortunately, guitars far too often tend to suffer from permanent damage due to carelessness, with the most common issues occurring at the fret, their most sensitive component. However, if you follow a couple of ground rules when you decide to put your guitars in a storage unit, you can easily keep them safe. Take a look at the list we compiled below and make sure you keep them playing like new for years to come.
1. Keep Them Clean
When you play your guitars, oil from your fingers inevitably builds up on the strings. Over time, this can make both the strings and the metal components rust and corrode — irreversible damage that you surely want to avoid. This is why you should always make sure to clean them thoroughly. Once you remove the strings, to make the cleaning process easier, use fine steel wool or a damp cloth to gently remove the dirt, and then re-hydrate by applying lemon oil to prevent any drying-out. If you want to purchase a guitar cleaning kit that has everything you need, there are plenty of options to choose from on the market.
2. Loosen the Strings
The strings of a guitar put a lot of tension on the neck when they are strung properly, but over an extended period of time, this can cause some severe damage to your beloved instrument. For short-term storage, you don’t need to worry about this, but if you want to pack your guitar away for a longer period of time, the smartest choice is to slightly loosen the tension of the strings by rotating the pegs one or two turns.
3. Choose the Right Cases
As with the advice concerning the strings, the choice of cases to put your guitars in depends on how long you plan to store them. If you opt for long-term storage, in other words several months or years, the most suitable option is to get hard-shell cases. Of all the storage methods, these offer the best support. Not only are they pretty heavy and protect guitars against any potential physical damage, but they also do a great job at protecting them against climate fluctuations that might affect them over time.
On the other hand, if you need easy access to your instruments, guitar stands or wall mounts are good options. However, these obviously offer little to no protection, since your guitars would be completely exposed. At the very least, they offer basic support, which is much better than piling them on top of each other or leaning them against a wall, like many people do.
4. Pay Attention to Temperature and Humidity
One of the most important aspects concerning the storing of musical instruments is the ambient climate. Most experts agree that the ideal humidity level for guitars is a consistent 40%-50%, and anytime conditions are outside this range, the risk of damage is significantly increased. The best way to monitor and control humidity is to use a hygrometer – a simple device that measures the moisture in the air – and some people invest in a humidification system to regulate humidity.
Regarding temperature, the average in the area should be somewhere between 65-75 °F, preferably in a climate-controlled storage unit where your precious instruments can be kept safe and sound.
5. Play Them Once in a While
At the end of the day, guitars are made to be played. Just like the lead guitarist of Queen, Brian May, famously states, ‘The guitar has a kind of grit and excitement possessed by nothing else.’
Even if you’re planning to store your prized collection for a longer period of time, be certain to take the instruments out and put them to use once in a while. Not only does this fulfill their life’s purpose, which is to be thoroughly enjoyed by players and listeners alike, but in this way you make sure you catch any small, potential maintenance problems before they become big issues.
All in all, the more expensive your guitars, the better your storage conditions should be. As long as you follow the main steps above and you don’t forget to check on your beloved instruments whenever you get the chance, there should be no problems storing them safely and correctly.