20 EFFECTIVE WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR GUITAR (DOWNLOADABLE CHECKLIST!)
As an entertainment insurance brokerage with a specialty in creating custom insurance packages for musicians, we have seen enough music gear-related insurance claims to be able to speak with some authority on what musicians can do to protect their gear. As it’s one of the most popular instruments, let’s focus on the guitar in this article:
Protecting your Guitar | GUITAR MAINTENANCE
- Where to keep your guitar? Store your guitar in a room closer to the center of the building rather than near an outside wall. This helps maintain a constant temperature.
- Store the guitar in its case, standing up or on edge – never lying down – to prevent it from being stepped on. Also, loosen its strings one or two half-steps while the guitar is in storage.
- Store vibrato-equipped guitars with arms detached.
- Get a gig bag [Amazon Affiliate Link] with some good padding and put your guitar in it whenever transporting it. Carrying the bag in your hand is OK, but it’s even safer to strap it to your back while walking with your guitar.
- If you’re touring, always use a high-quality carrying case such as a hard-bodied, foam-lined, locking Pelican case that protects against impact & moisture.
- Consider getting a guitar wall hangar [Amazon Affiliate Link] to hang your guitar(s) on. When you hang the guitar on a wall hanger, little-to-no pressure is exerted on the neck of the guitar in a direction that could potentially distort, bend or warp it. This is a much better storage option than leaning the guitar against a wall, which could bend the neck.
- Put a digital hygrometer in your guitar case to ensure humidity levels are under control. The ideal humidity range for an acoustic guitar is 45-55%, but 40-60% is generally considered acceptable. A good guitar humidifier [Amazon Affiliate Link] will automate the humidity control process to stay within this range, making it easy to maintain proper humidification for your guitar while in its case. A well-reviewed one is the Oasis Guitar Humidifier.
- Do NOT transport your guitar in the trunk of a vehicle. The above-mentioned humidity issues are particularly bad in a closed trunk and no guitar humidifier will be able to save your guitar if kept in a trunk for long.
- When playing outside, especially in summer, make sure your guitar is in some shade if possible, as the sun can damage the finish on your guitar. Overheated guitar strings can stretch and may fall out of tune while playing.
- While performing on stage, set your guitar in an area where it is less likely to be knocked into by passers-by, and try to set up your guitar last because, generally speaking, the less time an instrument is onstage, the less risk there is of potential damage.
- Even if you sit while playing, having a strong strap [Amazon Affiliate Link] is an intelligent precaution that can prevent your guitar from dropping to the ground. But don’t wear a belt buckle while the guitar is strapped on – belt buckles often cause unfortunate scratches and dings on a guitar. Or untuck your shirt to act as a buffer between your belt buckle and the back of the guitar.
- Get a pickguard/scratchplate [Amazon Affiliate Link] for your guitar to protect the guitar's finish from being scratched by guitar picks.
- Keeping your strings clean will help protect them; you can make the life of your strings last longer by wiping them down with a cloth or towel after playing. For guitars with steel strings, putting 70-90% isopropyl rubbing alcohol on the towel to help clean the strings is generally considered a best practice.
- Use paint-cleaning clay for additional cleaning. This kind of clay removes contaminants, dirt and gunk from your guitar. You can even hear the clay pick up the contaminants. To clean the guitar after you're done with claying, use a microfiber cloth.
- If traveling with your guitar, consider stuffing its case with some extra padding (e.g., socks, towels, other fabrics) to pack it in tightly and prevent slippage. Also, don’t check your guitar as regular excess baggage. Carry it on as hand luggage whenever possible.
- If you MUST check your guitar as excess baggage, invest in a specialized flight case [Amazon Affiliate Link] for the guitar. These hard-bodied guitar cases are designed specifically for flying instruments as checked baggage. Look for phrases in the product description such as “ATA” (Air Transport Association), “ATA approved”, “ATA flight case”, etc.
- Hiding a Tile [Amazon Affiliate Link] or similar tracker in your cases results in a good recovery rate for stolen guitars. These products are especially valuable for vintage guitars.
- At least once a year, take your guitar to your local guitar technician for a once-over. This annual investment in expert service will no doubt pay for itself over the long run by keeping your guitar in good shape.
- Try to get into the habit of washing your hands before playing the guitar. You may not realize it, but your fingers and palms contain moisture and oils that can damage your guitar strings.
- And, of course, PLAY your guitar regularly! Just as a muscle will atrophy from lack of stress, so a guitar will eventually deteriorate from lack of use.
Downloadable Checklist – Effective Ways to Protect Your Guitar
Take the tips in this article with you by filling out this form. We’ll email you a PDF copy of Effective Ways to Protect Your Guitar. Or complete the form below: