You are here

Unused guitar

For all things relating to guitars, basses, amps, pedals & accessories.

Unused guitar

Postby Folderol » Wed Sep 25, 2019 9:14 am

This might sound a silly question, but what should you do when leaving a guitar unused for long periods?

Keep it more-or less in tune?
Slacken the strings slightly?
Loosen/remove the strings entirely?
Something else?
User avatar
Folderol
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9037
Joined: Sat Nov 15, 2008 1:00 am
Location: The Mudway Towns, UK
Yes. I am that Linux nut.
Onwards and... err... sideways!

Re: Unused guitar

Postby Wonks » Wed Sep 25, 2019 9:48 am

The best thing to do is keep it in a case.

You can slacken the strings off slightly, but it it's kept in a case and in a room that's at a fairly constant temperature, then certainly with an electric guitar there shouldn't be any issues. If you slacken the strings off considerably, then it's going to take a day or so for the guitar to settle back properly once it's brought up to tension again, so it won't play as well as it could if you want to use it immediately.

Of course, if it's strung with .014"s rather than .009"s, then I would suggest string slackening would be beneficial.

I would say that for a 12-string acoustic, a significant string slackening is a good idea as there's a lot of string tension which in the long term, can cause the top to belly-up, so removing that tension if the guitar is unused for a long time, can help prolong its working life.

And yes, you could remove the strings if the guitar isn't going to be used for a long time, but it will need to be properly set up again afterwards. So for 4 months, I wouldn't bother, but for a year or more, you can do it. Also do it if the storage space temperature will vary significantly. A case will mitigate sudden temperature changes, but the guitar will eventually get hot and cold, and the string tension go up and down as a result, so best to remove the strings from the equation.

After any long term storage or string slackening/removal, it's always best to get the strings back up to full tension, then leaving it for a day to settle before checking the set-up. You may then find that some truss rod adjustment is necessary.

Other things to do before putting it away are:

1) To apply lemon oil (or your fretboard oil of choice) to a rosewood/ebony type fretboard (not a lacquered one), to make sure the board is as conditioned as it can be. If it's already dry, it can dry out further, and the board can shrink, fret ends start sticking out and even become loose in their slots.

2) Give the guitar and strings a good wipe down to remove as much skin and sweat residue as possible.
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9840
Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Reading, UK
Correcting mistakes on the internet since 1853

Re: Unused guitar

Postby ef37a » Wed Sep 25, 2019 10:00 am

As an example Will,
I have a Mex Strat that sits in an unheated bedroom years on end and I pick it up once in a three month to see how bad a player I have become. It is always close to pitch and nearly in tune across the strings.

Dave.
ef37a
Jedi Poster
Posts: 10759
Joined: Mon May 29, 2006 12:00 am
Location: northampton uk

Re: Unused guitar

Postby BigRedX » Wed Sep 25, 2019 2:13 pm

You should keep it as it is. If you slacken off the strings then the trust rod will also need to be loosened by the same amount. Do you know what that is? Probably not. Therefore the best thing to do is nothing.

Putting it in a case will help prevent accidental damage.
User avatar
BigRedX
Frequent Poster
Posts: 729
Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2004 12:00 am
RockinRollin' VampireMan

Re: Unused guitar

Postby SecretSam » Wed Sep 25, 2019 2:31 pm

ef37a wrote:As an example Will,
I have a Mex Strat that sits in an unheated bedroom years on end and I pick it up once in a three month to see how bad a player I have become. It is always close to pitch and nearly in tune across the strings.

Dave.

That's because the strings are so old that they can't stretch anymore ;-)
SecretSam
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1319
Joined: Tue Oct 29, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Officially, I do not exist.
Instant gratification is actually pretty good. It's fast as well.

Re: Unused guitar

Postby Wonks » Wed Sep 25, 2019 2:37 pm

BigRedX wrote:You should keep it as it is. If you slacken off the strings then the trust rod will also need to be loosened by the same amount.

Why? If you aren't using it it really doesn't matter as you'll need to adjust the truss rod anyway once you've put new strings on (very advisable after a year of more of no playing) and got it all back to the correct tuning.

And how on earth do you slacken off the trussrod to the 'same amount'? What are you saying there?

You aren't confusing this with transporting guitars by air?
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9840
Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Reading, UK
Correcting mistakes on the internet since 1853

Re: Unused guitar

Postby ef37a » Wed Sep 25, 2019 3:08 pm

SecretSam wrote:
ef37a wrote:As an example Will,
I have a Mex Strat that sits in an unheated bedroom years on end and I pick it up once in a three month to see how bad a player I have become. It is always close to pitch and nearly in tune across the strings.

Dave.

That's because the strings are so old that they can't stretch anymore ;-)

Oh good! I never need to buy new strings then!

Dave.
ef37a
Jedi Poster
Posts: 10759
Joined: Mon May 29, 2006 12:00 am
Location: northampton uk

Re: Unused guitar

Postby BigRedX » Wed Sep 25, 2019 5:54 pm

Wonks wrote:Why? If you aren't using it it really doesn't matter as you'll need to adjust the truss rod anyway once you've put new strings on (very advisable after a year of more of no playing) and got it all back to the correct tuning.

And how on earth do you slacken off the trussrod to the 'same amount'? What are you saying there?

You aren't confusing this with transporting guitars by air?

The straightness of the neck is a result of the force of the strings pulling on one way and offset by the opposite force of the truss rod. Therefore if you alter one you will need alter the other as well.

And you don't need to do anything to guitars when transporting them by air either. Holds are pressurised the same as the cabin and if they are not the plane won't be flying high enough for it to be necessary.

I don't think I've ever needed to adjust the truss rod in any guitar or bass I've owned except when I have changed strings for a set with a significantly different tension, or when I have bought an instrument from somewhere overseas that has a completely different climate to the UK.
User avatar
BigRedX
Frequent Poster
Posts: 729
Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2004 12:00 am
RockinRollin' VampireMan

Re: Unused guitar

Postby Ramirez » Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:27 pm

BigRedX wrote:
Wonks wrote:Why? If you aren't using it it really doesn't matter as you'll need to adjust the truss rod anyway once you've put new strings on (very advisable after a year of more of no playing) and got it all back to the correct tuning.

And how on earth do you slacken off the trussrod to the 'same amount'? What are you saying there?

You aren't confusing this with transporting guitars by air?

The straightness of the neck is a result of the force of the strings pulling on one way and offset by the opposite force of the truss rod. Therefore if you alter one you will need alter the other as well.

Yes, but the neck relief/straightness doesn’t matter if it’s not being played, does it? So, seeing as you’ll need to check the relief and probably adjust the truss rod anyway when you’re bringing the guitar back to service, I don’t see what you’re going to gain by adjusting the truss rod before putting the guitar in storage.
Ramirez
Frequent Poster
Posts: 997
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:00 am
Location: Bethesda, Cymru
Bill Withers while Tom Waits, and Stan Getz

Re: Unused guitar

Postby Wonks » Wed Sep 25, 2019 6:45 pm

Indeed.
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9840
Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Reading, UK
Correcting mistakes on the internet since 1853

Re: Unused guitar

Postby Folderol » Wed Sep 25, 2019 7:26 pm

Thanks guys. I believe the consensus is for me to do what I'm already doing... i.e. nothing :)
User avatar
Folderol
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9037
Joined: Sat Nov 15, 2008 1:00 am
Location: The Mudway Towns, UK
Yes. I am that Linux nut.
Onwards and... err... sideways!

Re: Unused guitar

Postby Wonks » Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:11 pm

Just for our info, is it electric or acoustic?
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9840
Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Reading, UK
Correcting mistakes on the internet since 1853

Re: Unused guitar

Postby Folderol » Wed Sep 25, 2019 10:07 pm

Electric - squier tele
User avatar
Folderol
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9037
Joined: Sat Nov 15, 2008 1:00 am
Location: The Mudway Towns, UK
Yes. I am that Linux nut.
Onwards and... err... sideways!

Re: Unused guitar

Postby Wonks » Wed Sep 25, 2019 10:20 pm

Tough as old boots. No problem with that.
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9840
Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Reading, UK
Correcting mistakes on the internet since 1853

Re: Unused guitar

Postby Dynamic Mike » Thu Sep 26, 2019 12:40 am

Folderol wrote:Electric - squier tele
In close proximity to kryptonite it's been reported that the G string may go ever so slightly sharp. Otherwise they're pretty much bombproof. It's the cochroach of the guitar world. I love them.
Dynamic Mike
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3150
Joined: Sun Dec 31, 2006 1:00 am

Re: Unused guitar

Postby BigRedX » Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:09 am

Ramirez wrote:Yes, but the neck relief/straightness doesn’t matter if it’s not being played, does it? So, seeing as you’ll need to check the relief and probably adjust the truss rod anyway when you’re bringing the guitar back to service, I don’t see what you’re going to gain by adjusting the truss rod before putting the guitar in storage.

IME people fiddle about with truss rod adjustments on their guitars far too much, and they would probably be much better off if once they have a suitable action and neck relief, they left everything well alone.

Any guitar that requires constant adjustment to the neck is IMO too poorly made to be worth bothering with.
User avatar
BigRedX
Frequent Poster
Posts: 729
Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2004 12:00 am
RockinRollin' VampireMan

Re: Unused guitar

Postby Ramirez » Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:39 am

BigRedX wrote:
Ramirez wrote:Yes, but the neck relief/straightness doesn’t matter if it’s not being played, does it? So, seeing as you’ll need to check the relief and probably adjust the truss rod anyway when you’re bringing the guitar back to service, I don’t see what you’re going to gain by adjusting the truss rod before putting the guitar in storage.

IME people fiddle about with truss rod adjustments on their guitars far too much, and they would probably be much better off if once they have a suitable action and neck relief, they left everything well alone.

Any guitar that requires constant adjustment to the neck is IMO too poorly made to be worth bothering with.

I don’t think we’re discussing the same thing here.

What I’m saying is there is no need to adjust the truss rod before putting the guitar in storage.

The truss rod is merely there to allow adjustment of neck relief when setting up a guitar. If a guitar is not being played, then the set-up doesn’t matter.
No-one’s talking of “constant adjustment”.
Ramirez
Frequent Poster
Posts: 997
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:00 am
Location: Bethesda, Cymru
Bill Withers while Tom Waits, and Stan Getz

Re: Unused guitar

Postby Folderol » Thu Sep 26, 2019 9:57 am

Dynamic Mike wrote:
Folderol wrote:Electric - squier tele
In close proximity to kryptonite it's been reported that the G string may go ever so slightly sharp. Otherwise they're pretty much bombproof. It's the cochroach of the guitar world. I love them.
I LOVE this comment :lol: :bouncy:
User avatar
Folderol
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9037
Joined: Sat Nov 15, 2008 1:00 am
Location: The Mudway Towns, UK
Yes. I am that Linux nut.
Onwards and... err... sideways!

Re: Unused guitar

Postby Wonks » Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:05 am

BigRedX wrote:Any guitar that requires constant adjustment to the neck is IMO too poorly made to be worth bothering with.

It all depends on the environmental circumstances. Any guitar in a climate with big temperature and humidity swings will certainly need truss rod adjustments as the wood responds to those changes. The wood and the truss rod themselves will respond to different degrees, and so create variations in the amount of bow in the neck. If you like high/very high actions, then you probably won't notice and small changes. But certainly if you like low actions (like me) then you'll probably need to give the rod a slight tweak from time to time.

Otherwise you need to use man-made materials, like carbon fibre, to resist any such changes.
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 9840
Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Reading, UK
Correcting mistakes on the internet since 1853

Re: Unused guitar

Postby BigRedX » Thu Sep 26, 2019 1:21 pm

Ramirez wrote:What I’m saying is there is no need to adjust the truss rod before putting the guitar in storage.

And what I am saying is that you also don't need to slacken off the strings before putting a guitar into storage.
User avatar
BigRedX
Frequent Poster
Posts: 729
Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2004 12:00 am
RockinRollin' VampireMan

Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users