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Long-Term Guitar Storage and Shipping

Long-Term Storage

If you aren’t using your guitar for an extended period of time, consider some long-term storage precautions to help prevent any potential damage occurring.


Get a Hard Case

The best way to store your guitar for longer periods is to keep it in a hard case. This creates a controlled environment for your instrument and helps in long-term protection. Besides environmental concerns, a hard case also protects the guitar from any accidental physical damage that may occur.


Release String Tension

Before storing your steel-stringed guitar for the long-term, consider detuning the strings down a full step to alleviate the tension on the neck and body (especially on acoustic guitars). A full step down is about the same as a full twist of the tuner knob.

Detuning is more a safeguard to protect the instrument through any uncontrollable environmental fluctuations that may adversely affect it. For example, a guitar left in an old basement for several years under no supervision may develop an irreparable warp or twist in the neck. Or perhaps an old acoustic guitar left sitting through the years may develop a bulged top or separating bridge that could rip right off the body due to the high tension. These horror stories are not necessarily going to happen, but because of the many environmental diversities in the world, and how they can affect musical instruments, it is merely a suggestion as a countermeasure. Keep in mind when doing so, the truss rod is applying tension in the neck to offset the string tension. So, if you lessen the string tension, be sure to check the neck relief and loosen the truss rod if necessary (see the section on “Truss Rod Adjustments”, in Guitar Setups).


Environment and Humidity

Humidity is a real concern when storing guitars, even if you use a hard case. Depending on where you live and the ambient conditions of the storage facilities, humidity levels may not be optimal. Avoid storing your guitar in a place where it will face extreme temperature or humidity changes. Exposure to extreme heat from a radiator or other similar sources can result in irreparable damage.

A humidifier system will help to maintain an adequate humidity level while in storage and may help prevent any humidity-related damage. Keep your guitar safe and remember to hydrate!


Inspect the Guitar Periodically

If possible, check up on your guitar every couple of weeks to a month to make sure there are no problems developing. Doing so, you can intervene before any issues become a serious problem.


Shipping Guitars

We’ve all heard the horror stories. Guitars getting broken in transit, arriving at their destination with a broken headstock, dents in the body, or a dislodged neck. You might be shipping a guitar or receiving one, or perhaps you’re taking a trip on a plane.

The first thing to do is to package it well. When sending a guitar over long distances, make sure you’ve got a suitable case. If you are sending the guitar in a hard case, it is a good idea to add some additional padding around the headstock area as well as around any loose fittings within the case. Bubble wrap or packing foam will help pad this area out to reduce any potential impact. Don’t leave room in the case for the guitar to knock around. Add extra support under the headstock, around it and on top of it. Headstocks, especially ones that are angled, are a weak point and should be protected well.

If you are shipping the guitar case inside of a larger box, outline the interior and fill the spaces in the box with packing foam, bubble wrap and packing paper. The additional packaging will prevent the item from moving inside the box and will also act as a shock absorber.

When regularly flying with a guitar, a flight case is your best option and will keep the guitar supported and protected under most conditions. A flight case is built and custom fit with dense foam, which suspends the guitar and prevents any shock-related damage.

It is always a safe bet to loosen the string tension from the neck. Doing so will help prevent any potential shock-damage to the neck and headstock areas (which is a common impact breakpoint).


Choosing a Case

Gig Bags

 

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A gig bag offers the least amount of protection, but the most ease for transport and portability. Many companies offer padded gig bags with hand and shoulder straps and often will feature backpack-style strapping for hands-free transportation. Perfect for those on the go, they are lightweight & easy to store.


Hard Cases

 

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A fitted hard case will offer a level of protection suitable for most situations. Generally, hard cases are made with either a plywood or a moulded ABS plastic. These types of cases will contain a foam padding inside to secure the instrument and also to insulate it from the elements. The outer shell is knock-resistant and can provide suitable protection.


Flight Case

 

Note: Clicking the above links will take you to further information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon.

Flight cases are usually more costly, and can be larger and heavier than a regular hard case. These cases are often made with a reinforced steel housing with hard moulded plastics, while the interior moulds fully suspend the instrument, completely insulating it from any potential impact. Flight cases offer the most protection available and will keep your instrument the safest when flying regularly.

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