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Storing Several Guitars for 5-6 Years

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by frankie5fingers, May 18, 2011.

  1. frankie5fingers

    frankie5fingers Member

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    I'm going to store some guitars for several years. Normally I keep them in a upstairs closet, in their cases, but will play all of them at some point. I won't be playing these at all for at least 5-6 years. Obviously I haven't had any troubles thus far, many of them are decades old, but as I said, I play all of them at some point or another, change strings, regular maintenance, etc.
    So, my questions:
    Is it best to keep them in their cases, or on hangers?
    If cases...
    All are strung with 10s or 11s.
    Should I leave them tuned to pitch, a little loose, or should I restring with 9s?
    I assume truss rods should be as they are normally, right?

    Thanks for the help!
     
  2. PB Wilson

    PB Wilson Member

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    String tension isn't an issue. Keep 'em up to pitch and don't touch the truss rod.

    Humidity may be an issue. Extremes in either direction can be bad and you won't know the damage until that fateful day you flip the latches.

    Older guitars with volatile plastic may be a mess all enclosed for such a long time. It's relatively rare, but has been an issue on some axes.
     
  3. passfan

    passfan Member

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    I would store them in the case and strung to pitch with what you have on them now. The neck is at equalibrium at this point. I always keep the silica packets in my cases to keep rid of the moisture. Polishing them up to get all your skin oils off them could help as well. Keep them in a controlled environment, don't toss them up in an attic. I have a Washburn A10 I started to refinish and after stripping I let it hang unstrung with no hardware in the shop and the neck bowed on it. Now I have to try to pull it back. I hope your keeping something out to play.
     
  4. frankie5fingers

    frankie5fingers Member

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    Oh yeah, I'm taking a couple with me, but they all can't come. I planned to keep them in a bedroom. I hadn't thought about silica packets though. Do you think those have a shelf life?
     
  5. Tarkus

    Tarkus Member

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    I'll store them for a nominal fee;)

    I've heard that cases are better. Temp and humidity changes are your big issue.
     
  6. Tim Plains

    Tim Plains Supporting Member

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    I've heard that storing them in the case vertically is better for the neck but have no proof of this.
     
  7. jamdogg

    jamdogg Member

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    are you going in the clink? :omg
     
  8. ef_in_fla

    ef_in_fla Member

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    My thought too. Hope they're still there when you get out! ;)
     
  9. GAD

    GAD Wubbalubbadubdub Silver Supporting Member

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    My first thought was military.
     
  10. TeleFromHelly

    TeleFromHelly Member

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    Maybe only 3 years with good behavior?:p
     
  11. CyberFerret

    CyberFerret Member

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    Watch out for certain guitars stored in cases for a long time. My beautiful Ibanez AR-300 was stored in it's case for about 5 years in what I thought was a cool, safe spot, but the plastic started to degrade, trapping toxic gases in the case which led to severe binding rot:

    [​IMG]

    It is a known problem with this era guitars apparently, and not really to do with weather or humidity, but mainly being stored in a confined space or a case.

    I also have a '74 Les Paul where the fingerboard inlays lifted due to being stored long term in a humid environment.
     
  12. dspellman

    dspellman Senior Member

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    Control the temperature and humidity the best you can.
    Do NOT hang guitars long term. Leave them in their cases. If you're going to detune them at all, take them down about one stop; no more. I have a 12-string electric that's been stored at various times tuned to concert pitch, and it's been amazingly stable.

    There can be a problem with guitars with nitrocellulose finishes and those with nitrocellulose-based pickguards. Both materials can begin to disintegrate and give off two of their components, nitric and sulfuric acids. Both of these are corrosive to metal and to the finish and, as above, sometimes to the binding. You may want to remove the pickguards from your guitars and store them separately. Not much you can do about the finish.

    You may want to toss a VCI into the case with the guitar. These are Vapor Corrosion Inhibitors, and are available from places like theruststore.com. There are also Vapor Corrosion bags available. VCIs are extensively used to preserve things like guns and expensive tools that are susceptible to corrosion. They give off a vapor that deposits, a few molecules thick, an anti-corrosion material that will NOT harm wood or other guitar parts. Since it's in vapor form, it can travel to all the same spots that corrosive gases would, including deep within the coils of pickups. Under general conditions, you'll want to replace these about once a year, but if no one is going to be opening the cases, they should last quite a bit longer.
     
  13. ef_in_fla

    ef_in_fla Member

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    Oh man that's painful to look at. I love these old Artist guitars.
     
  14. frankie5fingers

    frankie5fingers Member

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    Too honest for the clink, too old for military,. It's an assignment for work.
    Now if I was goin' to jail for a spell, it'd be so typical of a guitar player player to be on TGP asking about how to keep my guitars safe, rather than on Oprah's website figuring out how to keep my wife, right? It's all about priorities....

    In cases vertically sounds cool. Not sure if the vertically matters, but why not, right?
    The VCI things sound like a good idea, but I won't be able to change them yearly - do they degrade?
    The guitars will be in my house, which will be occupied just like now, so I can do whatever's best, they'll be undisturbed. I could leave the cases open if that's better. I can do whatever I need to; Whatever the absolute, best way is.
     
  15. dspellman

    dspellman Senior Member

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    They don't degrade as much as simply lose effectiveness over time; like one of those Glade room deodorizers <G>. That said, I've got guns that have been wrapped in the VCI bags for years at a time that have come out in perfect condition, long after the one-year manufacturer's suggested life. Left undisturbed, they should be very helpful even long term.
     
  16. Garrett Bagby

    Garrett Bagby Member

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    To buffer against rapid changes in temperature and humidity, put them along interior walls, not along any outside walls. Preferably a closet.

    Closed cases, vertical, stringed to pitch as-is, give them all a thorough wipe down beforehand.

    I don't know how I'd make it five years with them in storage, myself. I had four in storage for two years and missed them like family, LOL. And I got to go visit them and check their health after 15 months. At the end of two years, one PRS was still in tune.
     
  17. frankie5fingers

    frankie5fingers Member

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    There you have it!
    I'll get some VCI bags, store 'em in their cases, leaning against interior walls.
    Now it's off to the Dr. Phil Forum to see the best way to store my wife;)

    Thanks All,
    Frank
     
  18. _jt_

    _jt_ Member

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    It isn't about shelf life but they do get saturated with the moisture they absorb from the air. You can buy bigger units that can be microwaved for a few seconds to dry them out so they can be reused. I'd tell you the brand I use but they didn't have the smarts to put any writing on it!

    silica desiccant from bhphoto
     
  19. Jahn

    Jahn Listens to Johnny Marr, plays like John Denver Supporting Member

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