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I have a bunch of guitars of varying quality from unplayable to quite nice. I intend to hang some (or all) of them on walls for decoration, but I'm not sure if this is good for the guitars, so perhaps I should do something else with the better ones?

I assume that lying down in a hard case will be the best, but that takes space, and also means the guitars aren't easily accessible for use (or making the apartment look nice).

Are guitar stands better or worse than all hanging? Are there other things to think about? What are the general guidelines when storing a collectors, very nice guitar (special woods, etc.), or one you value greatly? You will find humidity control systems in place at stores with "acoustic guitar rooms" for example. Is is good to store a guitar in a case for very long? Should some sort of moisture control be added to any case that is intended to sit for very long or be in a less than ideal environment?

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The questions have been merged -- the answers from the other are now here. I just pasted in the content of the old question to the end of this one; feel free to edit (Lennart particularly, others as well) if you think it can be worded better. –  Matthew Read Jun 7 '11 at 15:12

5 Answers 5

up vote 19 down vote accepted

This answer has been copied, pasted, and updated based on a related question that I answered.

I will answer your question related to hanging your guitars on the wall after I give some basic context on how to properly store a guitar in general. I think it's worthwhile to provide some context in which to answer your question. In essence, when it comes to guitars, you want to control a couple of main factors: temperature, humidity (relative), light, and outside damage. This applies to both "artwork" guitars and your average everyday player. How rigorous you are with this will effect the outcome of how well kept your guitar is.

Temperature & Humidity

A guitar is an organic instrument. It is made from wood, and wood has some interesting properties. First off, it's hygroscopic--which means it absorbs water. That makes sense based on what we know about trees :D. A guitar, despite the fact that most are sealed by either a polyurethane or a nitrocellulose finish, will absorb water from it's surroundings and consequently move around a bit. Luckily, most designers and luthiers already know this--so it's highly unlikely that your instrument will warp to an unusable state just because you don't have a perfectly controlled environment. However it is recommended that you attempt to avoid extreme changes in environment--which includes both temperature and relative humidity--as these kinds of radical shifts can damage finishes of all types, cause bindings to pop loose, and all kinds of other nasties.

Typically both acoustic and electric guitars like to live at anywhere from 30% to 50% relative humidity--which is good, because we humans like that range too (at least I do). Any wetter than 50% and things start to mold, and any dryer than 30% and you could potentially see the finish checking or even cracking in extreme cases. Grab yourself a hygrometer, many places sell them, and at minimum be aware of the room parameters where you keep your nice guitar. No real need to be paranoid about it. I have a 1930's Kay (not worth much, but old as the hills and sounds divine with a slide) and I keep it in the same room I keep my R8, Telecaster, and Firebird.


As with any fine piece of artwork, the constant abuse of photons on a surface can cause some wear and tear over many, many years. You can search the internet for pictures of 50's Les Pauls that used to be tobacco burst, but are now very much approaching an iced tea burst. Years of direct light can cause finishes to fade and check. Although this is highly unlikely to be a problem in most cases, if you plan on keeping a guitar for many years then place it in its case when you aren't using it and do your best to keep it out of direct sunlight.

Outside Damage

This is the likely reason any guitar would be damaged. Kids playing, cats being curious, or dogs being rowdy--your guitar will get a ding. The only way you can prevent this is to lock it away in a safe, or a sealed glass case. The only advice I have here is don't be super paranoid about it, and make sure to place the guitar in its case when the relatives come over. If you are truly using an expensive guitar as a piece of art--something along the lines of the PRS private stock line--and never have plans on playing it, I would recommend a glass display case. This would reduce outside sources of damage but allow you, your family, and everyone else to enjoy the beauty of the piece. If you are simply worried about your 1958 reissue getting a ding then I think a glass case or safe is likely overkill; the guitar's case will protect it adequately. Safes are useful to store very valuable guitars for future generations to enjoy, but for anything outside an original 1950's Les Paul, Stratocaster, or Telecaster/Nocaster it's not really worth the investment in my opinion. Additionally I think that you should enjoy it anyway--we all eventually take a dirt nap. If you spent a ton of money or time procuring or building "your" special guitar then you should enjoy it before you pass it on to the next lucky owner.

Should I hang my guitars on the wall?

Well, you can--but do so with caution. Some finishes dislike the cushioning that wall mounts use and it can cause some issues. Additionally, there's a chance that your guitar might be knocked off the wall--which certainly would cause more damage than storing it in it's case or keeping it on a stand. I wouldn't recommend hanging very expensive guitars without researching some sturdy, finish friendly mounts, of which I have found none. Some stands can also damage the finish of your guitar when left in contact for long periods of time, but placing an old used T-Shirt over the cushions can fix that issue (this also works on wall hangers if you go that route). In general I would recommend placing an unused guitar safely in it's case or on a protected stand if you plan to play it frequently. I think that a well placed guitar can improve the aesthetics of a room quite nicely--or maybe i'm just lucky because my wife doesn't seem to mind at all :).

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OK, thanks. Just FYI the wall mounts I have used are these: thomann.de/gb/km_16280_gitarrenwandhalter.htm –  Lennart Regebro May 4 '11 at 6:06
Cool. Good luck with it! –  Jduv May 4 '11 at 13:58
We're considering merging this question with the other. Is there anything from your old answer you left out that you want to bring over to this one? –  Matthew Read Jun 5 '11 at 12:54
Nope, rock it out :D –  Jduv Jun 6 '11 at 3:32
Thanks, the merge is done :) –  Matthew Read Jun 7 '11 at 15:13

Whether it's good for them or not, I've been hanging a few of my guitars on the wall for a few years now, and I haven't noticed any difference in their condition vs. the ones I keep in a case in the closet, other than the normal wear & tear. Of course, YMMV, but I've also made sure that the room they hang in stays a reasonable temperature, and that the places they hang doesn't leave them in direct sunlight, and that probably helps as well.

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I don't really recommend hanging guitars on the wall, especially very valuable ones ;). –  Jduv May 3 '11 at 20:29
@Jduv - perhaps true, but keeping a guitar in reach trumps keeping it in perfect condition for many people. (Mine are hanging on the wall in the dining room, away from direct sunlight.) –  neilfein May 8 '11 at 3:42
@neilfein - That's exactly why I keep them on the wall. I'm much more likely to play more often if I just have to pull a guitar off of the wall, than I would if I had to open a case. I'm lazy that way. –  Josh Buhler May 16 '11 at 20:50

I recently read in a magazine (Guitar World or something) that a glass of water just sitting in a room would suffice ( not sure if this is true or not ). Also storing a guitar in its case is probably a good idea, it will make the strings last longer and prevent it from recieving any damages. If it's not going to be used for a long time, I'd take off the strings, clean it very well, and then restring it. Not sure how much this will help but I tried at least =p

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A single glass of water won't really raise the relative humidity in a room by anything noticeable. You'd need something with greater surface area such that the water evaporates into the room atmosphere at a greater volume--like a 3 gallon bucket, or a very, very wide rimmed tupperware (cool whip containers work great here in the states). –  Jduv Mar 4 '11 at 23:15
How much water you'd need would depend on the relative humidity in the room, its size (size of the room that is), temperature, airflow in and out, etc. etc. Stating any given volume will do is irresponsible. –  Anonymous Mar 7 '11 at 6:56
If a glass of water won't make you happy buy a humidifier. And I didnt say I knew everything about the 'glass of water', i said I read it in a magazine. If you were that interested in that method you could find the magazine and check out the article. –  Anonymous Mar 7 '11 at 13:26
@ekaj I understand that, and I was simply trying to gently state why that likely wouldn't work =). –  Jduv Mar 7 '11 at 14:49

If you tend to walk in the dark near your guitars, then hanging them is much better than leaving them on a stand and kicking them accidentally in the dark. I prefer to hang mine, but as you mention you are renting an apartment, your landlord will almost certainly disapprove of what needs to be done to hang them from the walls.

I'm fortunate in that my apartment will be remodeled when I move out, so I'm allowed to do anything that doesn't cause structural damage.

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I hang mine in a climate controlled space, i use guitar cleaning cloths over the hanger's foam padding to prevent marring the finish. I believe hanging guitars encourages one to play them more often, the necks stay straight and there is more air for the guitar to breathe. I had a really nice Guild D-40 that suffered marring on the neck where the case lining was touching the neck. The neck itself was a bit bowed as well from lying flat on its back. Now if i case a guitar I put a polishing cloth where the neck meets the case.

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