A guitar, whether acoustic or electric, is both an instrument and an investment. Whether you play for fun or as part of your livelihood, storing your guitar correctly will help keep it in the best condition possible.
When the time comes to put a guitar into self storage, it’s important to do it right. The method applies to both electric and acoustic guitars.
Keep it Clean
Before putting your guitar in a storage unit, make sure it’s clean. Consider getting a guitar cleaning kit to keep it in top shape. Otherwise, you can wipe off sweat and grime with a mildly damp cloth, then immediately dry the guitar with another clean cloth. Leave it on a stand for an hour or so, then put it away in its case.
Get a Strong Case
If you don’t have a hard case for your guitar, get one. Make sure it’s made for the type of guitar you’re storing. Electric guitar bodies come in a variety of shapes, so you may need to get the right sort of case from the guitar maker. Make sure the guitar fits snugly, but not too tightly, in the case, and that it closes tight.
Rent a Climate Controlled Storage Unit
Perhaps you need a large self storage unit for a bunch of your stuff, or maybe you need a small one for your guitars and other instruments. No matter what size unit you rent, we highly recommend you rent a unit with climate control.
Cold, heat, humidity and dryness can cause various types of damage, unless you have a climate controlled unit. These keep the temperature between about 55 and 80 degrees, and the humidity around 50%. Ask different facilities what the humidity range for their units is, as a guitar should be stored in a room with humidity between about 45% and 55%.
If the environment is too dry, the wood can dry out and even crack. If it’s too humid, the wood can expand and potentially grow mold.
Tune Your Guitar
Before you put your guitar in its case for storage, tune it. Then, detune it by one or two half steps. This will get the string tension about right for storing. You don’t want to remove the strings or make them slack. With no string tension, necks can warp over time.
Store It Standing
This may sound counter-intuitive, but don’t store your guitar cases on their backs. Guitars need to be stored standing up. If this isn’t possible, store them on their sides, with the neck end pointing up.
Remove the Whammy Bar
Your electric guitar may have a whammy bar. If it does, remove the bar before you store the guitar. We suggest wrapping the bar in a dry cloth and placing it in the case. This prevents the bar from getting pressed down by the case and potentially causing warping issues.
What Not to Do
Now that you know how to maintain your guitar at home and in storage, we’ll briefly cover where not to keep it.
When traveling, do not put your guitar in your car trunk. Try to keep it on its side in the cab instead. You may have some gigs out in the sun, but otherwise, don’t leave your guitar in the sun. Basements, attics, garages, and closets are also bad places to store guitars, as the temperatures there can fluctuate more than in other rooms in the house, and they’re subject to greater changes in humidity. Finally, when traveling on an airplane, don’t check your guitar in to the baggage hold, where temperatures can get far too cold.
Follow these instructions, and your guitar should remain in great condition both at home and in self storage.