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VERY long term bass storage

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by knight, Mar 17, 2004.

  1. knight


    Nov 3, 2002
    I posted this in misc but embellisher suggested I ask the experts, that is, the luthiers on this forum. Any suggestions would be most appreciated.

    I need to be away for quite a long time, about 16 months to be precise , and my basses will have to go to storage. Before you ask, no, I won't be sending them to you to look after. I'm thinking of putting them in a storage facility.

    1. Would you go for a non-climate controlled facility? The difference in price is almost double. But then again I'm in Southeast Michigan, and the temperature changes can be fairly extreme.

    2. Would you leave the instruments in their hard cases and gigbags? Store them vertically?

    3. What about string and truss rod tension? Should I loosen both? Leave them as they are? Why?

    4. Finally, how about cabs? Anything special I should be doing to them?

    The thought of not seeing my babies for so long is hard to bear. But the thought of finding out that they're damaged is unbearable. Recommendations please!


  2. permagrin


    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    Hope this is for work or something... and you're not going to the big house or anything like that.

    Looking forward to responses.
  3. knight


    Nov 3, 2002
    No, I swear I didn't do it... actually I'm going away for fieldwork for over a year (Jamaica) -- I'm an anthropologist/cognitive scientist.


  4. kboyd


    Jul 6, 2002
    Keep it in a cool low humidity room for a bit, put it in a case, then wrap the case with the self sticking??? saran wrap. Will keep well. seriously.
  5. DanielleMuscato


    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    I've had my share of experience with vintage guitars, most recently a 1970 Martin nylon-string (classical) of Brazilian rosewood that has not been touched in 34 years.

    Here are some tips:
    DO NOT loosen the strings. This is very important. Wood is organic in nature and will very easily become "accustomed" to lower tension (that is, it will warp) if a truss-rod is exerting backward pressure on the neck and there is no compensating string tension to keep it straight. Ideally, you should have someone tune it for you once a month or so, to keep the neck perfectly straight, but if you are putting your instruments in storage, your best bet is just to tune them to pitch and leave them that way.

    If possible, keep the instruments inside their cases, flat on their backs (not sideways or vertical), in a temperature and humidity controlled environment. For a pricey instrument, it is well worth the extra cost to keep them in a humidity-controlled room. Cases are designed to keep the guitars from rapid changes in temperature or humidity. It is not so much the change itself as the *rate* that damages instruments. You could theoretically store an instrument at 40% relative humidity in a 90F degree room, as long as you slooowly brought the instruments up to these conditions. Rule of thumb, though, if you are uncomfortable, so are your instruments. That means "room temperature" and dead average humidity, which only a climate-controlled storage facility can absolutely provide.

    I must point out that the easiest thing to do would be to find a friend with an air-conditioned, humidity-controlled house and ask him/her to store them there for you. If space is an issue, you can stack the cases, as long as the large flat side is down (the guitars are flat on their backs).

    As far as cabs, pretty much the same principles apply. Humidity and temperature control are important for wooden structures, and if your cabinets have dust covers, put them on. Otherwise, they should be fine (in a climate-controlled storage facility).

    Good luck and have fun on your trip. Although I'm sorry you have to give it up, I promise I'll give your FBB a good home! :)


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