By Hailey Konnath, Storage.com
If, for whatever reason, you and your electric guitar are taking a little break, don’t fret. A self storage facility is the perfect place to safely and conveniently store your guitar while you move or get back some much-needed space in your home. But you can’t just haphazardly toss your electric guitar into the corner of a storage unit and expect it to look and play the same when you eventually pull it back out.
So how should you store it to make sure it’s kept in good condition? We talked to both electric guitar and self storage experts to get the scoop on how to store an electric guitar.
Clean and Tune Your Guitar Before You Store It
Playing a guitar deposits oils and contaminants on the finish and hardware that can cause issues over time, says Todd Reich, Production Manager at Schecter Guitars in Burbank, Calif. That’s why it’s important to make sure all of the surfaces of the guitar, including the strings, are clean. Also, you may need to condition wooden parts and oil the fingerboard and bridge beforehand.
“Wipe the sweat, grime, and beer from the guitar before putting it in storage,” add Shawn Nuthall and James Zimmers, who work in the Paul Reed Smith Guitars Tech Center.
“Wipe the sweat, grime, and beer from the guitar before putting it in storage.”
-Shawn Nuthall and James Zimmers, Paul Reed Smith Guitars Tech Center
As far as tuning goes, Reich says he likes to have some tension on the guitar’s neck, but he may slacken the tuning on steel string acoustics “to keep the inevitable neck reset as far in the future as possible.” Reich also suggests removing the guitar’s straps before storing since some plasticizers in straps can eat away at a nitrocellulose finish.
Store Your Electric Guitar in a Guitar Case
A quality guitar case helps protect your electric guitar in storage. “The original case isn’t particularly important, though oftentimes is the case best suited for storing that particular guitar,” adds Reich.
When looking for a good guitar case, Reich says these are the most important aspects:
- It seals well.
- It provides solid neck support.
- It fits the guitar well enough that it won’t jostle around.
Few guitar cases will protect a guitar’s neck from snapping if it takes a tumble, though. That’s why Reich says you need to store your electric guitar on its side away from areas where things may fall on it or where it may fall. If you’re storing several guitars, lay them flat, but don’t stack them high. If you store your guitar on shelves or racks, make sure there’s little to no chance of your guitar falling off. And, of course, never lean your guitar case upright against a wall, as that’s an easy way for it to fall.
“Being knocked over in that position has spelled the end of many an axe,” Reich adds.
Climate Control Is Key for Guitar Storage
Guitar experts agree that climate-controlled storage is one thing to keep in mind when looking for a storage unit for your electric guitar, particularly since heat and humidity can damage the instrument.
A guitar shouldn’t be stored in an area that’s subjected to frequent temperature and humidity fluctuations, Reich says. If a guitar gets too dry, it will crack and warp. If it gets too wet, it could rust or see mold and mildew growth. If your guitar is made with hide glue, moisture can cause the glue joints to fail. And lastly, a damp environment can expose your guitar strings to corrosion as well.
“My personal [rule] is that I don’t store a guitar for a short term in any area or situation that I would not find reasonably comfortable should I have to be exposed to it over a 24-hour duration,” Reich says.
“My personal [rule] is that I don’t store a guitar for a short term in any area or situation that I would not find reasonably comfortable should I have to be exposed to it over a 24-hour duration.” -Todd Reich, Production Manager at Schecter Guitars
According to Reich, if you don’t store your guitar in a climate-controlled storage unit, you may find the truss rod needs frequent readjustment or the fingerboard may shrink and expose sharp fret ends. In a worst-case scenario, your guitar may have a warped neck or the acoustic top could begin to split apart.
Another way to prevent moisture-related damage to your electric guitar in storage is to throw a few moisture-absorbent packs into your guitar case. Nuthall and Zimmers say these will pull any moisture in the case away from the guitar.
Always Inspect Your Guitar When It Comes Out of Storage
When getting your electric guitar out of storage, check it for possible damage before playing it again.
Look at any unfinished wooden areas to determine if they need conditioning, and plug it in to see if the electronics work. When the initial inspection is done, Reich recommends playing a quick chromatic run on each string, hitting every fret, to ensure there’s no odd buzz that may have resulted from subtle shifts during storage. Also, the strings may need to be replaced. “Other than that, if the proper steps for storage were taken, your guitar should be ready to wail,” Reich says.
Of course, Nuthall and Zimmers say it’s a good idea to tune your electric guitar after pulling it out of storage, especially if it’s been sitting for a while. “Once the guitar has been tuned, it’s time to rock!” they say.