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 our guitar cases can actually cause damage to our guitars as well…
Now this isn’t a connection you would normally make and due to that fact I’m going to share with you five things to NOT do with your guitar case because, as a guitar geek, I care about the wellbeing of your guitar, and as guitar geeks, collectively we should all care about the wellbeing of everybody’s guitars.
Tip #5 – If You Have Time To Lean You Have Time To Clean
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, it could fall and hit pretty hard. 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 and 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.
Tip #4 Guitar Cases Do Not Have Super Human Powers
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 and 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.
Tip #3 The Courteous Latch Key Kid
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 and you go to pick it up, your guitar could fall out of the front of the case and cause not only a horrible noise but likely a good amount of damage as well.
In regard to the latches, one of the things that I would recommend strongly, and this is really for those of you who have those chipboard cases (think like old Gibson, Stella, and Harmony guitars) those 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.
Tip #2 Guitar Case = Sun Sponge
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 is going to 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. Be wary of where you store your case when your guitar is not in it. It’s very, very important.
Tip #1 Your Case Is Not A Mobile String Changing Station
The number one guitar case no no tip is don’t 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 your 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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