A Guide for Storing Musical Instruments in Self-Storage

Perhaps you’re a collector of musical instruments; maybe your kids are taking a break from music lessons; or perhaps you need to clear space in your home by storing a number of your old instruments; but, whatever the reason you require self-storage for your musical instruments, be sure to be storing them properly, so that they come out of storage in the same condition as when they went into storage.

At Real Storage, we accommodate many tenants who are storing musical instruments, and we want to be sure you’re as informed as you can be about how to store these precious, valuable, and fragile items properly. Read on for everything you need to know about how to store your musical instruments in self-storage.

Preparing your musical instrument for storage

Before putting your instrument away in its case, it is a very good idea to give the instrument a clean. Wiping away any dust or grime with a soft cloth will prevent these from staining the instrument during long-term storage.

For stringed instruments, like a violin or cello, it is a good idea to also loosen the bow strings before storing it, as this relieves the tension on the bow, which could cause stress to the bow over the long-term. The same goes for the strings on the instrument: loosen those as well. Similarly, it is a good idea to loosen drum skins to prevent them from warping.

For brass instruments, such as a trumpet or trombone, it is best to get these cleaned professionally before putting them into storage. With various parts of the instrument made from rubber, cork, and felt, these parts can corrode over time if not cleaned properly, or can trap bacteria, leading to mould growth. Having a professional take care of this for you is advisable.

Drum cymbals can be cleaned on their own, with the appropriate cleaner. Music stores will supply these types of cleaners. Speak to them about the appropriate cleaning solution for any and all of your musical instruments.

If your instrument can be taken apart, such as a saxophone or flute, then it is best to do so. Leaving it together may see the pieces seize together over time, making maintenance and cleaning much more difficult in the future. Place acid-free tissue paper in between these pieces when you store them in your case.

For larger instruments, like a piano, these too should be taken apart. The lid, feet, and pedals should all be removed and stored separately.

At the same time as cleaning, it is also a good idea to repair anything that may be broken on your instrument. Do all of this type of maintenance in advance of putting your instrument into self-storage, and it will live healthier during its time there.

Protecting your musical instrument while in storage

It may seem obvious, but it should nonetheless be stated here: simply putting your musical instrument into its case and leaving it in storage is not necessarily going to keep the instrument in peak condition.

While a hard case is definitely a good start, keeping UV light away and limiting most physical damage, these cases by themselves are not always the best answer for the long-term. The plush, velvet interior of these cases do prevent scratches and breaks, but the interior can also damage the instrument over longer periods of time. Rather than leave this to chance, covering the instrument with an acid-free tissue paper will prevent the interior of your case from damaging the instrument. For larger instruments, like a cello or upright bass, clean cotton linens can serve the same purpose.

Any musical instrument that can go into a hard case should do so if you are storing it for a reasonable length, but it is also important to take extra precautions with these cases to ensure your musical instrument remains in good condition. What you certainly want to avoid is plastic. Never wrap or bag your instrument in plastic, as plastic will trap moisture, create condensation, and, as a consequence, damage your instrument.

Storing your musical instrument properly

Musical instruments should never be stored by leaving them on the ground. Not only does such a place leave the instrument vulnerable to being stepped on or having something fall on top of it, but the ground is the place where temperature fluctuations and condensation are most likely to occur from.

Fluctuations in temperature, humidity, and condensation are your musical instruments greatest enemies and the factors you must be aware of most when storing your instrument for the long term.

If you have room at your home for instruments, then be sure to keep them away from heat sources and cold or damp places.

If there is not enough room in your home to store your instruments, then a reliable self-storage facility is your best bet. Be sure that you are renting a climate-controlled unit though, as units without their climate controlled will leave your instruments susceptible to your instruments’ greatest enemies: fluctuating temperatures and condensation/humidity.

Arranging shelving for your instruments in your self-storage unit is a good idea. Shelving will keep your instruments organized, keep the instruments off the floor and away from the dangers the floor can bring (condensation and temperature fluctuations), and keep them protected from other items falling on top of them.

Alternatively, instruments such as guitars can also be hung against walls to keep them off of the floor and out of the way of potential danger.

Grand pianos should be flipped on their side for storage, but they should still remain off of the ground. Resting them on top of a wooden skid (with padding in between the skid and piano) is your best bet. Leave it secure, beside a wall, where it is less likely to be knocked over. Cover the piano with pads or blankets to prevent dust from getting inside.

Checking in on your musical instruments

While all of the above should keep your musical instruments in good condition while in storage, it is still a good idea to check in on them from time to time. Visiting your self-storage facility every month or so to inspect your instruments is advisable.

Checking in on your instruments means looking for discolorations, cracks, mould, and corrosion. If you find any of these, then immediately take your instrument to a professional.

If you are leaving instruments without a case, especially wood instruments, then you also want to look for any pest damage, which appears as wormholes. Again, take your instrument to a specialist immediately if you find this has occurred.

At Real Storage, we store musical instruments of all sorts. Speak with your Real Storage agent today for further advice on your musical instrument and what Real Storage can do to protect it for its life in self-storage.