Howdy all! I gotz a question about storing my Instruments long term. I have well over 100 instruments and 98 percent are stringed so, should I leave the instruments in storage with them tuned up or detune them and store with no tension on the strings? Thanks!
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It depends on the type of instrument. My advice- the temperature and humidity of the storage location are really more important than whether the strings are tuned up or not.
Guitar and mandolin strings should probably be slacked off "some". Violin family instruments should not (the sound post will frequently fall over when there's no tension on the top). Banjos, it makes no difference.
I agree temp and humidity are more important. HIGH temperature, and/or LOW humidity are the enemies that cause glue to let go and wood to split.
As John noted, depends upon the instruments.
What I do, and I may not be correct, but it has served me and my Wife for decades and decades:
Tune the instruments down about two or three steps to take tension off the instrument, but not so much that the instrument is completely slack. Have it in relative tune so when you pull it out in a few months or years, you will know right off if any damage has happened by strumming a basic chord or note.
The most critical aspect is temperature and humidity. Both should be moderate and stable. High temp and high humidity will kill any instrument. High temp/high humidity will cause and instrument to come loose at the seams and warp. Conversely, temperatures below freezing and very low humidity is equally as bad. They basically desiccate, dry out and split to pieces.
The worst thing you can do is put them into the “care” of other musicians/friends for safe keeping. Did it once or twice back when I was young and dumb. On two occasions, the instruments disappeared. No explanation, no apologies. End of friendship. Other times the instruments came back with some serious gig usage. “No Man, that’s the way you gave it to me....”. Again, end of friendship.
What ever you do, before you store them, photograph and insure them. Cheap enough to do and takes the worry away.
What about leaving a super favorite bridge on there while it's put away for a while? Will that make it sag all the sooner? I've been thinking I would at least put on a crapper bridge if it's not going to be played, and keep the good one fresh.
Edited by - Eric A on 11/26/2020 08:38:52
I've had a cheap guitar for over 50 years and it's pretty much been in storage most of that time. It still plays when tuned up. I've never slacked off the strings and it doesn't seem to have bothered it at all. I have 2 other banjos that seldom get played. I haven't slacked the strings on those, either. I do have to tune them to play them, but other than that, no problem.
Having said that, my instruments are stored at my house, not in an unheated/air conditioned storage area and that could make a difference.
I wonder if there is a big difference between stroring instruments without playing them and keep them for a same time playing them often or from time to time ?
You could always leave them with us. We'd take real good care of them . . .
'Dixie Banjolele ' 3 hrs
'Deering Americana' 4 hrs
'BOOMERANG banjo logo' 4 hrs
'Another old banjo....' 5 hrs