Guitar cases are in fact guitar-saving and protecting devices. They help protect our guitars from knocks and bruises, dings, and all sorts of things like that.
But guitar cases can actually cause damage as well!
Now, this isn’t a connection you would normally make. But because I’m a guitar geek, I care about the well-being of your guitar. And, as guitar geeks, collectively we should all care about the well-being of everybody’s guitars.
To help you keep your guitar and your guitar case safe, I’m going to share some tips on how to store your guitar.
Originally published on August 28, 2018, this post was republished on September 06, 2022.
Never Leave Your Guitar Leaning in Its Case
The first thing I don’t want you to do with your guitar case is lean it against a wall.
Why? Well, if the floor happens to be a slippery surface. Your guitar case could slip, fall, and hit the floor.
You would think that it’s not that big of a big deal because the guitar is in its case. It actually is a pretty big deal because of the force in that drop.
A drop like that can actually cause a crack right around the headstock area of your guitar – so please don’t lean a guitar case on a wall.
Worse yet, it could be knocked forward. If it falls face down, then the guitar will again be vulnerable to a crack on the back of the neck/headstock.
Just because your guitar is in the case doesn’t mean it’s protected from everything. Be conscious of how you’re orienting the case when you’re laying it down and be sure it is nice and stable.
Guitar Cases Won’t Protect Your Guitar From Heat
Next up is the understanding that while your guitar case does protect the guitar, it doesn’t necessarily protect it from the environment.
Here is an example. You’re done playing at your neighbor’s house or wherever you’re playing. You throw your guitar in the car and think, oh, I just have to run into the store real quick. I’ll go ahead and leave my guitar in the car.
It’s a summer day, maybe 75, 80, or 90 degrees. Well, just because your guitar is in its case doesn’t mean it’s safe from the heat that builds up in the car.
The same is true for the cold. The guitar case itself doesn’t protect from the outside environment.
Yes, it creates a buffer zone, but it doesn’t prevent harmful temperatures from reaching inside the case.
Just because your guitar is in its case doesn’t mean it has an invincible shield around it. It still is going to heat up, it still is going to cool down, and both of those can be harmful to the finish.
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Always Latch Your Guitar Case
The third tip I have for you has to do with the latches of your case.
Don’t ever leave your guitar case unlatched. Please don’t ever put your guitar back in its case and not latch it. Even if it is only for a short period of time.
Why? Because if you forget the case is unlatched and you go to pick it up, your guitar could fall out of the front of the case. This will cause not only a horrible noise, but likely a good amount of damage as well.
In regard to the latches, there’s one thing that I would recommend strongly. This is really for those of you who have chipboard cases. I’m talking about cases like those old Gibson, Stella, and Harmony guitar cases – the old, flimsy cardboard cases.
I want you to carry the guitar with the latches towards your body. As you’re holding the guitar case, the case top should be against your body.
Why? Because if those latches happen to let go, at least your body is in the way to catch the guitar.
If you carry the guitar case with the latches out or the case top out when those latches let go, your guitar is going to fall to the ground. This could be easily avoidable if you just carry it with the case top towards your body and always remember to latch your case.
Don’t Leave Your Guitar Case in the Sun
This next tip on what not to do with your case is to never leave it in the sun.
You’re probably thinking, okay, you’ve made the temperature point already, I get it. Don’t leave the guitar in its case, in the sun… easy enough. That’s actually not what I’m talking about here.
I mean quite literally don’t leave your empty guitar case in the sun.
Guitar cases are black and they absorb heat. As the sun beats on that case, it’s going to heat up the inside of the case as well as the outside.
It might be a cool day, say 65 or 70 degrees out; a beautiful summer day and you’re playing outside. Your guitar case, if left in the sun, will heat up more rapidly because it’s black and absorbing the heat.
When you go to put your guitar away and it’s a cool 70 degrees outside, it might be over 90 degrees inside the sun-baked case.
At a minimum that’s a 20-degree temperature fluctuation, so you could run into some issues there, some finish checking simply due to that rapid temperature change.
As guitar geeks, we want our guitars to be as comfortable as we are while playing them and we also want to put our guitars back into a comfortable case environment.
So, be wary of where you store your case, even when your guitar is not in it. It’s very, very important.
Never Change Strings in Your Guitar Case
The number one guitar case no-no is to never use your guitar case to change strings.
I’ve seen it a million times: the latches of the case get popped open, the case top gets lifted up, and the little pick compartment area gets flipped up to prop up the guitar neck as an aid to change strings.
This works absolutely great until somebody hits the case top. The case lid could come down on your guitar, and if you’ve looked at your guitar case, there are these little metal nubs on the latches that stick past the plane of the guitar case top.
If those come down on your guitar, those latches are going to dig into the top of your guitar. It’s called “case bite.” It’s not something you want to deal with because it’s like a nail being driven into your guitar. You don’t want that.
Again, please don’t change the strings in your guitar case. If you absolutely have to and you’re hard up for a place to change your strings, go ahead and take your guitar out and pop it on top of the case. It will be a lot easier to do that and you won’t risk hurting your guitar.
This same principle holds true when you’re just taking your guitar out of its case. Be very careful with the top of it. Put one hand on the lid of the case and then take your guitar out with the other hand because you don’t want that case lid coming down
That’s a wrap for guitar case 101! I hope this helps you on your guitar journey and keeps your guitar healthy, happy, and ding free.
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I bought an Alvarez electric acoustic guitar and I like it Im trying to get the hybrid playing down. I like your videos and thanks for instruction. I met Jimi Paige one time in LA, after that I was inspired to buy a guitar.
I had a guitar built about two years ago. The very first week I had it I took it to my weekly jam. The jam is in a park in the early evening ,like six P.M. and runs two hours or so. Well this night we were having a great time then the lights went out in the pavilion. So we all hustled to pack up to leave. I put the brand new guitar in the case then someone asked me something and I did not latch it. Thankfully it was flat on the ground when I picked it up. I barely had it up and the lid popped open. You can imagine the gasp of air that came from my lips and the several @#&*””@ that fallowed. Just luck that the guitar tiled out and slid on
the lid barely touching the ground. No damage to the guitar but I aged fifteen years. Lesson learned !!!! Thanks for all the great tips,info. And Acoustic Tuesday.
Fort Myers. Fa.
like cars in California, cases should be white, or from miles away, you’re an idiot.
white drum, keyboard and guitar cases are not sold. Our entire culture is dumbed down in amazing and profound ways in favor of style.
Another thing to be careful of is bumping the latches on your guitar case. Be careful taking your instrument in or out of the case because latches are easy to bump against.
What are best practices for traveling on airlines with guitar? I have a travel case and plan to pack with shipping air bags. Should I feel okay to check the guitar?
I’ve recently acquired a guitar from America…. I’m in Australia. It’s a Lyle acoustic classical ( wide neck ) Model C630.
Nobody seem to have heard of the brand. I believe they were made in Japan in the 1960’s.
Do you know much about them ?