Is It Bad to Keep Guitar in Case? (Risks Explained)

No, it is not bad to keep your guitar in its case. However, there are some precautions that need to be taken to make sure you are storing it in a place, and in a way that will not cause unintended damage.

Throughout this article, we will explore those benefits, and I’ll do my best to avoid any poor ‘case closed’ jokes and metaphors.

Benefits of Storing Your Guitar In A Case

There are a couple of key benefits to storing your guitar in a case.

Primarily cases should keep your guitars safe from drops and falls and other unintended impacts.

They should also provide a level of protection from the environment in terms of heat, weather, and dust.

But it is not as simple as putting your guitar in a case and forgetting about it.

There are some important things to make sure you are aware of in terms of the type of case, managing humidity in your case, and how your store your case

What Type of Case Should I Keep My Guitar In?

There are two main types of guitar cases out there. A soft case, sometimes referred to as a ‘gig bag’, and a hard case, or ‘hardshell case’ (HSC).

Within both of these categories, there are many options available in various shapes and sizes, and of varying quality.

If you have the option of either, a hardshell case is of course going to provide more protection than a soft shell case, and also provide more temperature stability to minimize the potential impact of humidity on your guitar.

Managing The Humidity Inside Your Guitar Case

Even though your guitar is safe inside of its case, it can still be impacted by the temperature on the outside of the case.

If you live in a region with high humidity or experience big swings in temperature through the year then you will need to actively manage your acoustic guitar’s exposure to humidity.

If you don’t then you risk the different woods on your guitar expanding and contracting which can lead to cracks and warps in your guitar. Sometimes this damage is reparable, but at times it can mean your guitar is no longer playable.

If you do not have the option of maintaining the humidity of the whole room your guitar will be sitting in, there are a variety of guitar case ‘humidifiers’ available for purchase that you insert into your guitar when it is in its case to make sure it does not get too dry, or too moist inside the case.

Some of the high-end hardshell guitar cases even have built-in humidifiers into the case.

It is also possible to buy gadgets that measure the humidity and send the data to your smartphone so you can track it remotely and set limits and alarms that prompt you if humidity reaches a certain threshold.

Humidity is a risk whether your guitar is in or out of your case, and needs to be managed regardless, but there are particular ways of managing it if you are keeping your guitar in your case.

Where You Put Your Guitar Case

The location of your case is also important to how well your guitar copes.

If you leave the case in direct sunlight then this will amplify potential humidity and atmospheric-related issues.

Ideally, your guitar case is kept out of direct sunlight, in a dry room and space that is weatherproof and has the most stable temperature possible, for the region you live in.

Do You Need Your Guitar Case Upright or Lying Down

The best way to store your case is upright, in a safe position (so it doesn’t fall over).

If you only have a single guitar, you could potentially lie it on the ground but DO NOT stack multiple guitars on top of each other.

Different cases distribute weight in different ways and the cases on the bottom could have pressure placed on them by the cases on the top which could cause damage.

However, if your room has a concrete floor, do not lie it flat on the ground, have it standing up.

If you are considering lying your acoustic guitar flat on its case, then make sure the case is perfectly fitted to your guitar. If there are places your neck is unsupported for example, and you lie your guitar down for long periods of time, the neck could bow and lose its structure.

How to Prepare an Acoustic Guitar for Being Put in Its Case

Hardshell cases can do damage to your guitar if you do not prepare them for storage.

If your acoustic guitar is likely to be in its case for a while then there are a few steps you should take prior to putting them in the case.

Wipe Your Acoustic Guitar Down

When you play your acoustic guitar you inadvertently make it oily.

The oil from your hands and arms transfers the guitar body, strings, and fretboard as you play. This oil can corrode some of the metal components on your guitar, and impacts its finish if it is not wiped down after use.

A quick wipe over the body and strings and fretboard with an instrument cloth or generic microfibre cloth before putting it in its case will minimize this.

Experiencing corrosion to strings is highly likely to some extent if stored in a case for a long time, but you can drastically reduce this likelihood by wiping your guitar down and removing these oils you have transferred to it.

Detune Your Acoustic Guitar by a Half to a Whole Step

When storing your guitar for a while it can be good to detune it by a half, or full octave. You do not want to take all string tension away as guitars are designed to have tension on the neck, and it can cause neck damage to remove this tension.

But reducing the tension by a half step, or whole step gives your guitar some leeway in the event that temperature changes cause the neck to pull back slightly. It means you won’t put undue stress on the neck from too much tension if the neck responds to the temperature by pulling back slightly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a Guitar Break in a Case?

A guitar is unlikely to break in its case. But there are some circumstances that could potentially overcome the protections provided by the case and cause harm to the guitar.

There is no way to completely guarantee your guitar against all damage, but putting your guitar in a high-quality, well-fitted case will reduce the chance of damage in most situations.

Is It Better to Hang a Guitar or Keep It in a Case?

There are pros and cons to both hanging your guitar and keeping it in its case.

Hanging your guitar makes it easier to access at short notice, encourages regular use, and gives you the joy of seeing it on a regular basis.

However hanging guitar presents some risks in the unlikely event that the hook falls from the wall, the guitar is knocked down by a household member or pet, or your guitar is exposed to extreme temperature swings of the room temperature.

A guitar case provides a safe environment to protect your guitar from accidental damage and generally provides more temperature stability, however, guitars are still at risk of humidity-related damage, which needs to be managed and prevented proactively.

Does a Guitar Case Protect From Humidity?

A hardshell guitar case does provide some protection from humidity, compared to the exposure it would receive in an open room, but humidity still needs to be monitored and managed proactively.

There are a variety of cases that include humidifiers, or stand-alone ‘guitar humidifier gadgets you can get to protect your guitar from humidity while it is in its case.

But the case on its own is unlikely to be sufficient and you would not want to risk this on an expensive guitar.

Should I Keep My Guitar in Its Case or on a Stand?

Unless you are using your guitar frequently, I advise you to leave your guitar in its case.

The case provides the most protection possible from accidental damage and also provides an initial layer of protection against humidity.

Even in a hard case, you will still need to it out of the sun, and monitor the humidity inside the case.

But overall, keeping your guitar in a hard case will provide the best long-term protection, and preserve the integrity of your beloved guitar over the longest period of time.

Further Reading