Whether woodwinds, brass, percussion or strings, instruments are much more than the sum of their parts. Storing instruments, the electronic equipment needed to enhance their output such as mixers as amps, sheet music, and digital backups of musical creations must be done the right way to preserve them well.
Most important is controlling the temperature within the storage unit. Severe temperatures, drastic temperature changes, and above-normal levels of humidity can cause brass instruments to expand and shrink, strings and wood to warp, drum skins to dry, and mildew to grow. Many self-storage facilities offer climate control. This uses central air and heat to maintain a temperature within the unit of 50-80 degrees and reduce humidity. Some facilities have a dehumidifier as well -- usually for units on the first floor or subterranean levels.
Here are some additional tips for assuring musical instruments, music and equipment are stored in optimal conditions:
Tips for Storing Musical Instruments
- Properly prepare instruments for storage, cleaning and conditioning them with paste wax for wood, resin, etc. Never use an oil-based polish or alcohol on wood instruments. Disassemble parts, remove reeds, mouthpieces, mutes and straps, and relax strings
- Whenever possible, store instruments in cases designed for them. Cases should be in good condition – clean, with no fraying or powdering. If a case is not in great condition, line it with buffered acid-free paper (available for purchase at music stores). Inside the case, drape a clean cloth over strings. For additional protection against humidity, after placing the instrument in the case, place the case in a polyethylene bag.
- Cover a piano with a sheet or tarp to protect it from dust
- After storing musical instruments for a lengthy period, be sure to clean and tune them before playing
- In the storage unit, keep instruments away from vents and doors. Make sure they are stored off the floor, on a pallets or shelves
- If you're storing upholstered products such as mattresses and sofas, consider investing in covers, bags or sheeting for additional protection. Storage and moving facilities often sell large heavy-duty bags for this purpose.
Tips for Storing Musical Equipment & Music
- Keep electrical equipment and boxes of music off floor with pallets or shelving
- Store backup CDs, DVDs or Flash drives of music in waterproof containers
- Consider having pianos moved professionally. Talk to your storage facility manager or local mover about options
- If it’s worth storing, it’s worth insuring. Most storage facilities require proof of insurance covering your belongings to at least $2,000. At Extra Space, we offer affordable insurance policies for up to $10,000 that can be included in your rental agreement.
Keep an inventory of stored items – perhaps by taking a picture of each piece before it’s packed. Ideally, include an estimate of the replacement value of item you store. These steps will help you make accurate insurance claims in case of unforeseen damage or loss, and estimate appropriate coverage levels.
Your self-storage facility manager can be a great resource for instruments and equipment. Be sure to ask them for guidance – they may have important information you wouldn’t have considered otherwise.