Musical instruments are a major financial investment. However, they can provide you with years — even generations! — of service if they are properly maintained. The time may come when you need to store your instrument for a while, and it’s during storage that some serious damage can occur. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your instruments when you store them in your storage unit. Read on for 6 tips for safely storing your musical instruments in your storage unit.
Store your instrument in its original case. If at all possible, store your instrument in its original case. The case is built to hold the instrument and all its parts securely and safely. If for some reason you cannot use the original case — it has become damaged or has been lost — seek out a replacement rather than just using a box, bag, or bin. Hard cases are ideal, but if your instrument originally came in a softer case, that can be a safe storage option as well. Be sure your case, hard or soft, is waterproof.
Take your instrument apart. Don’t store your instrument all put together, if it’s designed to come apart. Take off mouthpieces, remove reeds, detach straps. For stringed instruments, go ahead and loosen the strings slightly. (There is no need to remove them). The pressure of tight strings can warp your instrument. Do the same for bowstrings. The exception is pianos — they do not have to have their strings loosened, as they are designed to withstand strong pressure. Drumheads should also be loosened.
Clean your instrument thoroughly. Before you put it into storage, clean it thoroughly. Use the appropriate cleaning solutions and cloths for your instrument. Clean each separate part of the instrument. This helps keep moisture and dirt from building up and damaging the instrument while its stored. For instruments, such as flutes, that have padded keys, place tissue paper between the pads and the instrument body. This will help prevent the keys from sticking and being damaged.d
Pack your instrument carefully. When your instrument is clean and dry, it’s time to pack it in the case if it has one. Place all the parts securely in the sections of the case designated for them. If you have wiggle room, you can add soft material such as cotton batting to help keep the pieces in place. Then place a sheet of acid-free paper or clean cloth over the instrument in the case. Close the case securely.
Wrap and cover larger instruments. If you are storing larger instruments, such as a piano or drumset, you won’t have a case. You’ll need to take special precautions with these items, and you may want to consider having them professionally moved. Wrap piano legs, pedals, and benches should be wrapped in heavy padding. Cover large instruments with a tarp to protect them from dust, mildew, and pests.
Store the instrument with care. Once you have your instrument ready to go to the storage unit, the final step will be storing it with care. Place instruments in cases up off the floor, on shelves or on top of other items in the unit. Do not place any items on top of instrument cases, no matter how light they may seem. A climate-controlled storage unit is the best choice for storing instruments, as these units keep your precious items from being damaged by heat, cold, or moisture. If you opt for a unit without climate control and you live in a climate where the winters are cold, consider wrapping your instrument cases in a layer of blankets to keep them warm when the temperature drops.