Any musician can tell you that musical instruments are delicate items. With prices frequently running into the hundreds, if not thousands, making sure to keep your instrument in top condition is vital. At the same time, there may be occasions when you need to put an instrument into storage - to centralise band instruments, or because there isn’t space at home. With a few extra measures, self-storage can be a safe and cost-effective way of doing this. While musical instruments come in all shapes and sizes, several key points apply to storing them all.
If you’re intending to store an instrument for an extended period of time, give it a thorough clean before it goes into storage. Making sure the instrument is spotless when it is first stored can delay the build-up of damaging dirt and grime.
Start by using a clean cloth to wipe the instrument down and remove any dust. For brass instruments, instrument cleaning brushes should be used to clean the inside. Use instrument specific cleaning products to remove any grease and give them a polish to provide an extra layer of protection. Avoid using household cleaners or polishes, which can cause deterioration.
Once the instrument is clean and dry, prepare it for storage by disassembling it as much as possible. Any instrument that can be separated into sections should be, to prevent pressure on the joints. Release the tension on stringed instruments, which will help prevent snapping or warping - the only exception to this are pianos, which are built to handle the pressure. Similarly, drum skins should be loosened.
Like everything, how much you need to disassemble depends on how long you are storing the instrument for. If you’re removing a guitar for band practice every week then the strings should be fine, but releasing the tension is a good idea when storing it for a longer period. Remember, though, that the tension of the strings helps maintain the structural integrity of the instrument, so be careful how you place it in storage. Guitars and other stringed instruments with a long neck should be placed upright, to minimise the stress of gravity.
Choosing the right case
Where possible, instruments should be stored in their original cases - as long as it is still in a good condition. Cases should be clean and fully intact. For all instruments, a hard case is better than a soft one when storing for a long period of time. It will provide more protection from environmental influence, like UV light, moisture, or insects. It will also protect the instrument if it falls over or has something fall on it.
Many cases feature a velvet lining on the inside of the case. While this can cushion the instruments, it can also lead to damage over an extended period. Place a layer of acid-free tissue paper or clean cotton sheets between the instrument and the lining to prevent this.
Choosing the right storage
While self-storage can be a good option for musical instruments, not all storage units are created equal. For delicate items like musical instruments, look for a climate-controlled unit. Temperature and humidity can wreak havoc with instruments. Wood is especially vulnerable to the environment, which can lead to warping. Look for a unit with a temperature between 20 - 25°C and humidity between 40-60% to ensure instruments of all types stay in top condition.
Finally, as with any items of value, visit the storage unit regularly to make sure that there are no signs of damage. Look for discolouration, cracking, or deformation. If you notice any signs of deterioration, take the instrument to a repair technician. The sooner you catch the damage, the easier it will be to fix.
When looking at your storage insurance, it is important to make sure that your cover is sufficient to cover the total new replacement cost of everything you are storing. In order to make sure that you are properly insured, we always advise making a comprehensive inventory of all the items which you are storing, including the cost of replacement.