6 Tips for Safely Storing Musical Instruments

Published on 4/19/2022

6 Tips for Storing Musical Instruments

Guitars hanging on the storage wall

We all love music. It can make us happy or sad, but it always brings us closer together. If you're making music, your instruments are your tools, but the chances are that you think of them as your babies — and it makes sense that you do. A great instrument rarely comes cheap, so you wouldn't want anything bad to happen to it. Of course, if you maintain it properly and take care of it, it can serve you for years or even decades. Still, a moment comes in every musician's life when they realize that they have more gear than space. And once strings and snares start invading your home or studio space, it's time to rent a storage unit. We get your trouble, and we want to help you with it. So, here are six tips for safely storing musical instruments just for you.

1. Pay Attention to the Environment

No matter if you store your instruments in your home closet or a storage locker, the two things you should worry about are the temperature and humidity. Naturally, extreme heat or cold won't pair well with your precious tools, so you must avoid them at all costs. Furthermore, you should be very careful about sudden changes in humidity and temperature. These could bring a whole new set of problems, especially when talking about wood instruments.

If you've researched preparing your furniture for storage, you know that wood is a sensitive material. Put it in an environment that doesn't suit it, and it'll wrap and twist all around. Hence, to ensure it'll stay in good condition, you want to keep it at a steady temperature. You can't go wrong with roughly 70 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity levels of 40%-60%.

Now, humidity isn't always easy to keep under control. Thus, you might want to consider buying a humidifier that you can put into your instrument case. And if you have the budget for it, be sure to go for a temperature-controlled storage unit.

A white hygrometer on a table
One of the biggest tips for safely storing musical instruments is to pay attention to the temperature and humidity in your storage

2. Know How to Store Your Instruments

Just as every instrument sounds different, they all have different storage needs. That said, there are some general rules that you can use regardless of if you're fiddling with strings or brass. Here's what you need to know.
  • If you have the original cases, make sure to use them to store your instruments.
  • If possible, lift your instruments off the ground and bring them closer to the center of the unit.
  • Storage lockers are often drafty, so surround your instruments with other household items, like mattresses or fluffy furniture.
  • Pianos are best stored on their sides, while you should keep guitars vertical.
When it comes to packing your instruments, there are plenty of tricks to know about. Of course, you'll want to do everything to protect your valuable pieces, but if you're not sure what to do, it's best to contact an expert and ask them for help. And although your local repair technicians could help you set up, we'll still give you a few more tips for safely storing musical instruments.

3. Storing Wood Instruments

Warping is the worst thing that can happen to a wooden instrument. Today, we'll tell you about all the precautions you need to take to prevent it.

Climate-controlled storage and a humidifier are two basic things for storing instruments. And if you're planning for them to stay in storage during winter, they're a must. But if you want to take it a step further, you can wrap your instrument in a polyurethane bag before putting it into a case. It'll keep it safe from moisture, and it might provide some additional insulation.

Now, you'll probably want to clean your instrument before storing it, so you might think that polishing it is a good idea. And it is, as long as you don't use any oil or alcohol-based polishes. If you're not careful with your choice of cleaning supplies, you might make the wood dry out quicker, which will make it decompose.

Also, remember to release any tension from the strings to prevent them from snapping. Finally, come to a storage unit once every couple of months to clean out the dust, and you'll have nothing to worry about.

Woman thinking about tips for safely storing musical instruments
Wood instruments are sensitive, and you have to take all the precautions when storing them for extended time periods

4. Storing Brass Instruments

Brass instruments are made out of metal, so they aren't as sensitive as their wooden counterparts. Still, if you'll store them for an extended time, you'll want to do some preparation.

First, you need to disassemble them and take out the mouthpiece. Clean, oil, and polish everything the best you can. If you feel like your piece might look better if you put in a bit more work, don't stop. Of course, take your cleaning efforts to the inside of the instruments as well. Work the brush and reach all those places you don't clean that often.

Ensure your brass instruments are dry as a bone when you put them in storage to avoid rust, even if you went out of your way to choose the best unit for your needs. After cleaning them, air them out for a few days, and again, avoid household cleaners. If you don't have the right stuff, use nothing more than some water and a clean cloth.

5. Think About Insurance

Here's the deal. No matter how much effort you put into making your gear storage-worthy, there's always a chance that some element out of your control will create an issue. Hence, if you're storing something that isn't yours or of high value, consider buying the insurance for the instrument. It's just a measure of precaution you'll want to take if, for example, you're storing a piece of equipment that has been in your family for generations. 

Our experts from Eagle Van Lines remind us that most self-storage companies offer insurance as a part of their services, so you might want to look into that. However, be careful about what those offers include. Read the fine print to ensure your instrument is as safe as it can be.

Musical instruments hanging from the ceiling
The insurance can save you from unexpected costs if some of your instruments get damaged in the storage unit

6. Keep Your Instruments in Check

If you did your homework and prepared your instruments for storage, you won't have much to worry about. However, it's still wise to visit the unit and check up on your gear from time to time. If your storage doesn't have AC, you'll want to make sure there's no moisture or insect damage that could turn your precious axe into shreds.

When inspecting an instrument that's been in storage for a long time, look for cracks, mold, discoloration, deformation, or mold. If you notice any problems, take it to a repair technician as soon as possible. The more you wait, the more severe the issue will become.

And that concludes our top six tips for safely storing musical instruments. As you can see, there are plenty of things to consider, and you don't want to leave anything to the case. Protect your instrument, and you'll use it for years to come.