In her song “Cherry,” the late Amy Winehouse paid homage to the love that many musicians feel for their guitars. While every musician may not be as eloquent as Winehouse was, most would do whatever it takes to keep their instruments in the best shape possible—especially if they have to store them for a while.
“Guitars left for a long time can be just like an old classic car left unattended,” said Andrew Wasson, a guitarist, blogger and educator. “Before you know it, down time takes its toll.”
Want to make sure your guitar still plays the right tune over time? Before putting your guitar in a self-storage unit or another storage space, consider these five tips and enjoy years of making music.
1. Get a Good Case.
While you might feel a surge of pride when gazing at your guitar, if you’re not going to be using it for a while, store it in its case, said Bob Amada, a spokesman for GuitarStorage.com, which sells guitar case racks and stands. Not only does a case protect it from scratches, but it keeps your guitar from being exposed to dust and sunlight, which can “wreak havoc on the finish and colors,” Amada said.
2. Avoid Extreme Temperatures.
As with fine wine, temperature counts, said Glen McCarthy, a member of the Guitar & Accessories Marketing Association. Ideally, the temperature should be between 70 and 75 degrees. If you’re planning to put your guitar in a self-storage unit, make sure the unit is climate-controlled.
3. Keep It Away From Humidity.
Damp conditions can take their toll on your guitar. Try to keep it in an area with average humidity of 45 percent to 50 percent, Amada said. If you can’t control the environment, use a dehumidifier. Another option is to put a few small moisture-absorbing dessicant packets in your guitar case, said Abigail Cox, a spokeswoman for Breedlove Guitar Co.
4. Keep Tension in Mind.
The strings on a guitar put tension on the instrument’s neck. When your guitar is going to be stored for a significant period of time, take some tension off the strings but “don’t make them completely loose,” Cox said.
If you’re going to be storing your guitar for several years, take it to a reputable guitar shop or technician to have it professionally adjusted rather than doing that yourself, Wasson said
5. Check It Periodically.
Ideally, guitars are meant to be used. If you have to store your guitar, “the best advice I could give would be to check on it every once in awhile,” Cox said. Wasson agrees: “Like a classic car, guitars like to be played.”