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I had to leave my acoustic guitar at home. I had decreased the tension in the strings completely before leaving home...it has been 5 months...did I make a mistake?
Will my guitar still sound okay when I play it again?

  • 1
    The answers are all over the map : "yes it's bad", "no it's good", "no it makes no difference". But you have not indicated whether it's an electric with feather weight strings, a heavily stringed jumbo acoustic, a well built classical, or what. The quality and type of guitar could make a very big difference. Personally, I'd be more worried about it having it's feelings hurt from being neglected. Of course, it might also be so glad to see you again that it sings! – mickeyf Oct 24 '18 at 21:16
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Really, they're designed to be left under tension all the time.

The opposing forces of the neck [& truss rod, if appropriate] and the strings keep the neck straight.

Removing the strings will over time cause the neck to pull itself back - so when you re-string & tune it back to pitch, it's quite possible the neck will be out of alignment & you will get fret buzz.

Hopefully, leaving it in tune for a while will pull it back to where it should be. If it's bad, you could over-tighten by maybe a semitone [don't go silly with it, less is more ;) & see if in a couple of weeks it's starting to return to normal.
I wouldn't be inclined to take any steps other than that initially. Leave the truss rod alone, just use string tension, otherwise you may have to serially re-adjust as balance is reached, then overshot, then reached...

  • I had a guitar that I didn't touch for years. When I finally dug it out of the closet again, I discovered that the tension in the strings had pulled the neck right out of the body. – BallpointBen Oct 24 '18 at 21:15
  • @BallpointBen: I have a guitar which isn't quite that bad, but would probably not be worth the cost to repair. It's a Stella with a headstock that looks like a classical guitar, but ball-end pegs like a steel-string guitar, and it was strung with steel strings. I don't know what the design intention was. – supercat Oct 24 '18 at 21:46
  • This answer is almost complete nonsense. – Kaz Dec 10 '18 at 3:58
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    @Kaz - I'd be grateful for more of your razor-sharp insight... – Tetsujin Dec 10 '18 at 7:20
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There was no need to slacken the strings. But you're unlikely to have done any harm.

I have a guitar in storage that belonged to a friend who died 9 years ago, almost to the day. (RIP CF.) I opened the case the other day. It's still in tune.

  • Difference is, he slackened off the strings for 5 months - better to do what your friend's guitar had done to it - nothing! – Tim Oct 24 '18 at 17:38
  • Indeed. But probably not THAT much better. Let's see if this proves to be a real problem or just a hypothetical one. – Laurence Payne Oct 24 '18 at 17:40
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    2 weeks without strings can give a pulled, buzzy neck. 10 years of never tuning it does nothing except what the guitar is designed to do, maintain balance under tension. – Tetsujin Oct 24 '18 at 18:02
  • Yes, CAN. Does it, often, though? – Laurence Payne Oct 24 '18 at 18:06
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    I've only ever done it once. Lesson learned. As I said, leaving the strings on for 10 years is just not a comparison. – Tetsujin Oct 24 '18 at 18:16
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It'll be fine. When you get back to it, put some new strings on and tune it - you shouldn't have any issues. Any minor issues can be fixed by paying for a professional setup on it. Really, it probably won't even need that.

I had a guitar in storage for ten years, brought it to the USA and restrung it - it had no problems whatsoever.

  • Did you leave the strings on, slacken them? – Tim Oct 24 '18 at 17:36
  • I left the strings on, but pretty loose, so there wasn't much tension – PeteCon Oct 24 '18 at 19:44
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What you're doing in fact is a good practice.

If a guitar is going into storage for a long time, it's good to remove the strings, or at least severely loosen them to remove most of the tension on the neck, bridge and top. This is particularly a good idea for a steel-stringed acoustic with fairly heavy gauge strings on it (like a .012 or .013 high E).

If you're removing strings from a guitar that has had its truss rod tightened to correct excess neck relief, that should be loosened, too. Without any string tension acting opposite to the truss rod, the rod could create a back bow.

In a properly set up guitar, truss rods are always at least somewhat tightened so that they are firmly in place and do not rattle. For long-term storage, you can leave the truss rod lightly tightened, or you can remove all truss rod tension; in any case, don't forget about the existence of the rod when it comes time to string up again.

Some people don't believe in loosening string tension for storage: the thinking is that if a guitar which is played regularly can be kept in pitch, why would it be any different for a guitar in storage? It doesn't hurt, and could prolong the life of a cheaper instrument that isn't built well. I've seen cheap old guitars come out of years of storage with bulged out tops and bowed necks, exhibiting completely unplayable action. Of course, that will happen regardless of whether they are played or stored.

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