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Is there potential danger of damage in storing your guitar in a vertical wall mount, like the ones that guitar shops use in their showrooms?

It seems like an obvious question (after all, that's the way guitar shops do it), but I've been told before that even grabbing a guitar by the neck (without supporting the body) stresses the wood and can cause neck warp. Is this true?

Also, are there other issues in using vertical storage at home (other than the mentioned above)? I'm basically looking for ease of access when playing and storage space optimization.

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  • I was liking the page until I read the highly-disputable, weasel-worded and not-really-explained phrase "We all agree that you should detune any instrument that's going into storage for a long time without being used." – Rafael Almeida Jun 23 '11 at 16:10
  • @Rafael - You're looking at that page as if it were a page here on music.SE. It's not, it's a luthier's personal take on these issues. I think the phrase is a bit wordy but clear. – neilfein Jun 23 '11 at 16:41
  • @neilfein: not really, I wasn't. What I meant is that even experts should avoid the 'because I said so' explanation when giving advice to potential laymen, as is the case of a FAQ. His statement is very counter-intuitive, and this alone should be a reason for him to phrase that as "you should detune your instrument if you won't play in a long time, because of X". IMHO, saying something is obvious when most of your audience wouldn't think it is is just plain elitism. – Rafael Almeida Jun 23 '11 at 21:37
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    I recommend you go there and downvote the page, then. :) – neilfein Jun 23 '11 at 22:23
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I have about 7 guitars hanging on my wall and they're all fine. The guitars range from bolt-on neck's to Les Pauls to basses. None of them have had anything happen to them.

Neck "warping" is far more of a risk if you live in a climate where the humidity and/or weather change a lot. The wood will shrink and contract possibly leading to neck warp.

Any guitar - whether hanging or sitting on a stand - is going to have the neck shift (unless it's graphite or some other non-wood material). How much it shifts will depend on the climate and the build of the neck.

Most decent quality guitars won't have their necks truly warp. Yes, they'll shift, but that's what your truss rod is for. A quick adjustment can "fix" this in no time.

The safest, practical way to guard against neck shift is to case your guitars when you're not playing them. Keeping them all climate controlled would be the safest but tho that's possibly overkill & not really an option for most folks.

  • "Yes, they'll shift, but that's what your truss rod is for." -- Classical guitars don't (typically?) have one, as far as I know. Does your answer apply to those as well? – Raphael 2 days ago
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You put a lot more stress on that neck joint playing the guitar and bending strings than gravity does when it's hanging there by the neck. I've certainly never seen any evidence produced that holds up the tale that a guitar hanging from its neck is a guitar neck in the process of warping.

I'll always say: the safest place for a guitar is in it's case. But if you really must put them on display, hung high up on a wall is definitely a better choice.

There are reports of some nitrocellulose finishes, like those used on older guitars or on re-issue guitars, yellowing or even rubbing off when they're left in contact with the rubber that you normally find on those guitar hangers. I know I've had one neck-hanging guitar stand discolour the finish on one of my guitars when it was left in the stand for a few weeks.

Outside the case, hung up, your instrument is also more susceptible to changes in humidity and (to some degree) temperature. Humidity has a huge impact on guitar necks and I'm wondering if this is why people think hanging guitars are being warped by the hanging -- mis-attributing the changes to the storage method and not the change in humidity? You'll want to control the humidity in your storage environment and that's easier to do in a case, but not impossible to do in a room.

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    +1 but I hang my guitars so that they are out of the way (I'm much more worried about some one knocking over a guitar on the floor than the wall) and they're easy to grab and play and less so that they are "on display". It's convenience, not showing off. I play a guitar that's out 10 times more than one that's in a case. Although the signed, '78 Les Paul custom shop is a little bit of showing off. – yossarian Jan 23 '11 at 19:18
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    One way to fix the "rubber meets the neck joint" problem is to shred up an old, soft T-Shirt and drape it over the hanger. It's not particularly aesthetically pleasing, but I'd rather have a small eyesore than ruin the neck finish on my 56 reissue. – Jduv Jan 25 '11 at 13:04
  • @Jduv - I did that with my parlor-sized steel-string that hangs on the wall of my living room, but more because the headstock is so small relative to the hanging brace thing. – neilfein Jun 22 '11 at 6:29
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I have 22 guitars hanging on my wall, ranging from low end Korean to Fender Custom Shop Strats and Teles and Ibanez Prestige and Universes. Except when I am playing them, they have hung, the oldest since 2006 the newest since January 2011. Not one of them has had a problem. I am full-blown AR when it comes to my babies and I would case them immediately if I saw the slightest issue. Disclaimer: I live in Southern California so we do not get the hot/cold dry/wet variance that some places get.

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Try pulling the neck of your instrument in half with your bare hands. Unless your guitar is made of balsa you will find this is impossible. Take note that you just exerted many times the force in lbs that the guitar weighs. In other words, the tensile strength of the wood is insanely higher than the weight of the guitar. Hanging by the neck is fine.

  • Agreed you can't rip it in half with your bare hands, despite exerting much more force than the weight of the guitar. However, I'm not sure this proves anything either way: you don't need to pull the neck in half to cause an issue with neck warping, for example. What if you exerted that force over a few days, or weeks? Also, depending on the guitar setup and geometry, the weight may not pull on the neck perfectly parallel to it - requiring even less force to cause a warp. – Rafael Almeida Jun 1 '17 at 16:06
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If anyone thinks that suspending you guitar by its neck is OK for it then sorry you are deluded!

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    I've been deluded for decades, in that case. Please explain more - you are obviously an expert, so share with us. – Tim Oct 14 '16 at 13:57

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