Whatever musical instrument you play – whether you’re a professional musician, a sometime player, or you simply want to keep your precious trumpet until your youngster is old enough to play it – sometimes you have to place your instrument in self-storage.
Whatever your reasons for storing a musical instrument, you’ll want to prepare it properly beforehand to preserve it from damage. Your instruments are at greatest risk from heat, cold, humidity and dust. Drastic temperature changes and high levels of humidity can cause brass instruments to expand and shrink, strings and wood to warp, drum skins to dry and mildew to grow. Dust can get inside electric guitars and electric keyboards, as well as amplifiers and electric sound mixer boards.
Humidifiers can keep your instruments dry in the winter, and dehumidifiers can help with summer extremes. The best temperature is 70 degrees, with 42 percent humidity.
Protect your instrument
Store the instrument in a hard case designed for that instrument. The case should be in good condition, with no fraying or powdering. It’s a good idea to place a layer of acid-free tissue between the cushion and each instrument before storing it, as the soft lining inside many hard cases can damage musical instruments over time. Drape a clean cloth over strings inside the case, and place the case itself inside a polyethylene bag for additional protection against humidity. A hard case will also protect your instrument from damage if another item falls on top of it. It will keep your instruments safe from harsh UV lights or other environmental damage, and protect it from insects.
Drums: To store a drum set, loosen the drum skin to prevent it from stretching and cover it with a sheet or tarp to keep the dust off. Oil leather surfaces, and polish all hardware.
Piano: Before storing a piano, wrap the legs, piano bench, and pedals in heavy padding to protect them from damage. Like the drum set, cover the piano with sheet or tarp. No need to loosen piano strings; the cast-iron harp or plate is designed to withstand tons of pressure. However, it’s advisable to store a baby grand on its side. Consider having the piano moved professionally.
Woodwinds/strings: Separate woodwind or string instruments into sections so pressure won’t harm their joints. Don’t forget to remove reeds and mouthpieces. Thoroughly oil and clean each piece, and place tissue paper between the pads of woodwind instruments.
Clean the instrument first
Clean your instruments before storing them. If your stringed instrument is made of wood, cover it with a wax paste made for wooden instruments. Never use an oil or alcohol-based polish on wood instruments – it can dry them out. You can purchase the appropriate wax at your local music store. Use brass wax on brass instruments.
Store above ground in appropriate containters
Store your instruments above ground by using pallets, shelving or casters. Store backup CDs, DVDs or flash drives of music in waterproof containers. Unpack carefully
Removal from storage
When taking instruments out of long-term storage, take your time cleaning, reattaching and tuning the instruments.
Insure your instruments. Many self-storage facilities offer insurance to protect your valuables from fire, burglary, vandalism and natural disasters.