How to Store Stringed Instruments

Jon Fesmire |

Do you play a stringed instrument? We’re talking about the violin, viola, cello, and stand-up bass, and also the guitar, both acoustic and electric, the electric bass, the mandolin, and others. No doubt you get a lot of joy out of playing your instrument, and you may have more than one. Perhaps you have a collection of guitars or a few violins.

If there comes a time when you need to put one or more in storage, it’s important to do so the right way. All instruments need to be maintained in good condition to play well. It’s a delicate balance requiring proper care.

Back in 2015, we covered how to store musical instruments, but we wanted to focus on the stringed family. Here are the steps to take to ensure your stringed instruments remain in good shape while in a storage unit.

Cleaning

You should be cleaning your instrument regularly after playing. First, do not use household cleaners on your instrument. Instead, get special cleaning cloths directly from music stores at either a physical location or online.

Use one cloth to clean the strings and the other to clean the body. This is especially important if you play a bowed instrument that uses rosin, as rosin is hard to get off later.

Clean the bow as well while avoiding the horsehair.

Loosen The Strings

Before you put your instrument storage, loosen the strings, but don’t make them completely loose. The goal here is to remove tension from the neck, which can warp it over time.

Use a Good Case

Ideally, you should have a hard case for your stringed instrument. A good case will protect your treasure from dust and other elements. Now, a hard case can take damage, too, so don’t stack anything on top of it or put it in a spot where something heavy could fall on it.

Many cases come with plush-velvet lining. This provides good cushioning but it can do subtle rubbing damage to your instrument over time. Consider using a layer of acid-free tissue paper between your guitar or violin and the case.

Where to Store It

We’re aware of the term “garage band,” but unless your garage, basement, or attic has good air conditioning, including humidity control, don’t store any of your instruments in those spots. If you do store it at home, keep it in a closet or a room in the house. If you live in an area where humidity fluctuates during the year, you’ll want to use a dehumidifier, humidifier, or hygrometer, depending on the current weather conditions. That will help not only keep you comfortable but will protect your belongings, as well as your stringed instruments, as well.

It’s All About The Unit

When it comes to storing any musical instrument, and especially a stringed instrument, we highly recommend renting a unit with climate control. For stringed instruments, it’s critical.

They do best between 65 and 78 degrees and around 50% humidity. Even if a facility has climate control, ask about the ranges. Many keep their units between 50 and 89 degrees. (In the winter, they’ll warm them up to 50 degrees, and in the summer, they’ll cool them down to 80.) For most possessions those ranges are fine, but stringed instruments are a little more sensitive. The ideal humidity is 50%.

If the temperature is too high or too low, this can cause warping and cracking. High humidity can soften and warp the wood and loosen the glue, and low humidity can make it brittle.

We hope that when you do need to store an instrument, you’ll be able to retrieve it after a short time and enjoy it again. Storelocal facilities are ideal for keeping your guitars, violins, and other stringed instruments in excellent shape.