Storing Musical Equipment and Gear

All instruments and their associated gear have certain requirements when it comes to general care. In particular though, any time you are going to put away your equipment for a period of time you need to pay close attention to the right way to care for the instrument and/or gear. So, before you put away your gear check out the tips below to avoid costly repairs or replacements.

Avoid Moisture & Humidity

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… moisture!

The biggest culprit when it comes to ruined instruments. Humid areas are the perfect breeding ground for mildew and mold. Even in a relatively short amount of time, humidity alone is capable of warping guitar necks or other wooden instruments.

Pianos too are especially fragile. Every facet of a piano’s construction works with another. If one part is damaged or distorted, it can affect the structural integrity of the entire instrument. You may not be able to see it, but you’ll definitely hear it.

Remember, even in drier areas, ambient heat in any enclosed space can lead to humid conditions. Your storage unit should be kept cool and dry at all times. Look for a climate-controlled facility.

  • Consider sealing smaller instrument cases in polythene.
  • Cover pianos with a tarp.
  • Drape a cloth over guitar strings within the case (remember to relax the strings first).

Electronic Musical Equipment

If you’ve ever been in a professional recording studio you probably noticed how cold it was.

Running, synths, computers, and rack equipment can generate enough heat to warm up a room in no time. Studios respond to this by cranking up the A/C.

This serves a dual purpose:
Electronics perform at optimum levels when left in cooler temperatures. Nothing causes a synth to glitch out quite like temperatures hot enough to melt plastic. Temperatures inside storage units can reach stifling degrees during summer months which can result in destroying the parts inside.

Most electronic equipment is generally made up of a mix of plastics, metals and adhesives. High temps can melt or crack adhesives, high humidity will melt plastic and damage conductivity.

  • Store your equipment in their original cases.
  • Cases in poor condition should be lined with acid-free paper. Many music suppliers sell it.
  • Keep electronics off the floor and away from vents.

Keep It Clean

Storage units can get dusty. That’s just a fact of life. Draping equipment helps to keep things tidy, but you should make sure your gear is clean before it goes in. Dust it down. Polish it up. Break out the resin for your strings. Keeping standards high will minimize the amount of cleaning needed when you retrieve your instrument. Let’s face it; you don’t want to spend a great deal of time cleaning your stuff, you’ll want that time to practice.

Follow these simple storage tips:

  • Keep gear neatly stacked on pallets, heavier things on the bottom, and lighter things on top. You’d be surprised how many people don’t think of this.

The Best Investment

Climate control is most likely the best investment a musician can make when it comes to caring for your equipment and gear the right way so that it lasts for a long time. Especially if you are storing any wooden instruments or instrument bows as these are the most delicate. Brass and woodwind instruments are more durable but the pads can go bad if not stored in the proper environment.

Improperly stored equipment can cause expensive and serious damage to your instruments. If and when you need to store your equipment away for a while follow the tips outlined above and keep your instruments in excellent condition for years to come.

Image by Justin Ornellas and licensed through Creative Commons.