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What damages my musical instrument? Protect your equipment.

Saxophone Music instruments

Music instruments can be damaged from environmental or poor storage. Some factors that spoils musical instruments are:

  1. water & humidity
  2. sun and heat
  3. temperature fluctuations
  4. improper storage
  5. bugs and insects
  6. unreliable music stands

 

Damage of music instrument from environment:

Music Rustic piano
A rustic piano may looks good, but the sound quality may not be ideal

1) Water & Humidity

Water… A huge enemy of musical instruments! It is the most common cause of damage to both wooden and metal instruments. Bob Taylor, president of Taylor guitars, was quoted by Premier Guitar magazine saying, “At one time, probably 70% of the repairs performed in our service center could have been avoided if the guitar had not been exposed to humidity extremes.” If instruments come into contact with water, wooden parts can be warped or cracked. They may experience growth of mold and mildew.

Damage also happens when there is too much moisture  in the air. Since wood is a porous, when the relative humidity in the surrounding environment rises rapidly, the wood in your instruments is likely to expand and swell. They may even split. Moisture allowed to remain on metal and brass components may result in rusting and a reduction in strength. This all adds up to some serious trouble for any musical instrument!

I don’t think much has to be said about electronic instruments!

Similar, instruments also suffer when the air is too dry. Wood contracts when the air is dry, leading to cracks and slight changes in the shape. This can be seen during winter. m

2) Sun and heat

UV rays and Infrared rays in sunlight carry damaging effects on your wooden instruments’ finishings. In addition, heat is detrimental to all kinds of instruments. It can weaken the glue that holds your instrument together or dry out lubricants in some instruments such as trumpets and saxophones.

Heat also causes instruments to expand, changing its shape and affecting the sound. Keep them safe out of the sun’s reach!

3) Temperature fluctuations

Drastic fluctuations in temperature can be very damaging to instruments, particularly when it comes to wooden instruments. Variations in the temperatures lead to expansion and contraction of instruments. This weakens them and makes them much more fragile.

 

Damage of music instrument from poor storage:

4) Improper storage

Improper storage of musical instruments is also another popular cause of damage. This is particularly true for wooden instruments as they break easily when exposed to heat and water. Improper storage can also lead to other problems, such as dust build up, mold and mildew growth, and even theft. Instruments can get battered and bent while they’re being placed in storage. Keep yours protected by keeping your prized guitars, saxophones, drums, etc., in their cases.

Music violin
Love your Music violin!

5) Insects & Bugs

You might not see them, but they could already be preparing an attack on your instrument. Insects and pests hide in many places. If musicians are not careful, instruments are susceptible to damage by them. While all woodwind instruments, string instruments, and pianos are easily affected by carpet beetles, they can also attack musical instruments and cases. Moisture in the form of perspiration and saliva left behind on instruments make instrument cases perfect breeding grounds for carpet beetles.

Horsehair bows, felt pads, silk cleaning cloths, leather straps, and other items made of natural fibers can fall victim to munching moth larvae. These pests often prefer to attack items that aren’t used frequently, which is why you need to be extra careful when putting instruments into storage.

In addition, woodworm infestation is one of the worst forms of damage that a stringed instrument can suffer. Unlike other problems, a woodworm attack can produce an irremediable effect on the structure, sound and value of an instrument. Infestation is not only a risk to instruments in museums or collections, or to those simply kept in a loft. It is also a danger for professional players: regular use will not protect an instrument from infestation.

6) Unreliable instrument stands

Some instruments suffer damage due to the usage of low quality instrument stands. If they are  not kept in the case, but on an instrument stand, a stand with poor design may cause the instrument to fall.

 

How may I protect my music instruments from damage?

Some simple suggestions to prevent damage:

  1. Store them indoors and away from extreme temperature or moisture
  2. Release string tensions or skin tensions
  3. Clean once a few months to avoid accumulation of dust

Obviously, you do not want to store your instruments exposed to elements that are harsh to them. You should store them in an area where they will be safe from extreme temperatures and moisture or huge fluctuations in temperature and humidity. It is wise to keep them in a climate-controlled storage area, especially if the instruments will be stored long-term. Climate-controlled storage maintains the temperature and humidity levels in the storage area consistently, year around, to help avoid the possibility of damage by changing conditions.

Musical instruments of all types do well in temperatures close to 21°C/70°F, with relative humidity at about 50%/. You may consider installing humidifier and other devices that can help keep your instruments in good condition. The easiest and most reliable way to measure humidity is by using a digital hygrometer.

It’s a good idea to release string tension on guitars and other stringed instruments to avoid breaking strings and warping the neck. Also, baby grand pianos are best stored on their side. Loosening drum skins is another good idea because it will help keep them from stretching. While cleaning wooden instruments before storage, avoid oil or alcohol-based polishes which can cause the wood to dry out and deteriorate. You’ll also want to disassemble, clean, oil, and polish brass instruments(inside and outside), until it looks brand new. To prevent rust, they should be as dry as possible during storage. If you don’t own specialised instrument cleaners, use water or a dry, lint-free cleaning cloth.

To prevent an accumulation of dust, clean your instrument every few months-even if it’s not being used or played. Check your cases to ensure they’re clean and free from the presence of bugs. Some things that we want to avoid are: stray hair, cork grease stains on case liner, and dirt or lint. You should also ensure that there is an absence of insects in the room. We do not want any of those nasty bugs near our prized possessions! Keep the instrument in an area that is frequently trafficked and regularly cleaned.

How can I store my music instrument well?

Guitar Music
Love my guitar 🙂

If you’re storing an instrument for a long period of time, a hard case is a good idea. It will protect it from UV lights, limit any other potential environmental damage as well as keep insects out. This prevents dust/debris from settling onto them and keeps the instruments from sustaining physical damage.

Instruments should be cleaned before being stored with a clean cloth and a vacuum to remove dust. Any instruments that can be broken into sections should be separated to prevent pressure on the joints. Store all instruments in their original packaging or cases, above ground level and well away from doors and open vents. This is because the greatest fluctuations of temperature frequently take place there.

If the instrument is out display, and not in storage, choose a reliable quality instrument stand.

Place them in a secure condition, away from elements and where people are least likely to walk past. Choose a good instrument stand! Pick one that is stable, sturdy, well-designed to ensure the safety of your instruments. You may like to find out more information on the various high quality stands here.