Musical instruments tend to be as cherished as the family pet. When they need to be stored, they should be treated the same way as the precious pet. If the family pet can not go on vacation with the family, a kennel or a pet sitter is considered. When a musical instrument can not go to a new home right away and it gets stored, the same considerations to care need to be addressed.
If your instrument is brass, string or woodwind, there is special attention to care to maintain its value and condition. Throwing a piano or a violin into the backend of a storage unit willy nilly will not result in a happy outcome. Packing the instruments properly will maintain its current condition and keep it from any possible damage.
The first thing to do before sending the violin, piano or tuba to storage, is to clean it thoroughly. Get all of the dust and any grime off with a damp cloth and perhaps a bit of polish. If the instrument is made of wood, you will need to use a conditioning fluid. Alcohol or oil based polishes should not be used as they can sit on the surface and eat away at the finish of the instrument. A paste of resin can keep the finish safe and clean and protected. If possible, the parts of the instrument should be dismantled, bows loosened and strings relaxed. Any instruments that can be broken into sections should be separated to prevent pressure on the joints. Loosen drum skins because it will help keep them from stretching. For pianos or electronic keyboards, you need to dust using an air compressor that’s designed for electronics, wiping and cleaning between the keys and buttons. These should then be placed inside of a plastic cover to keep dust from getting inside.
If your instrument has a case, clean it thoroughly also and place the instrument inside. Many cases are designed for that specific instrument, funny shape and all. The best case scenerio is to use the case that pertains to that particular instrument. It has the strongest protection for the instrument’s most fragile parts.You should check the case for any cracks or holes or seam breaks. You can also add a packaging of acid free paper to line the inside of the case to prevent any moisture from accumulating.
Pianos are large and needy and need extra care when going to storage. A thick furniture quilt should cover the top surfaces so that they won’t get scratched or damaged during moving and then being maneuvered into place. The quilt will also prevent dust from getting inside the hammers and strings. Bubble wrap or another small quilt can be wrapped around the legs and the piano bench. When moving something as large and as bulky as a piano, it is always ideal to use professional movers to get it from home to storage and back again.
A main issue for storing pretty much anything in a storage unit is to keep it off the floor. When storing instruments, it is essential that they are place on something other than directly on the floor. It is also a good idea to store them away from the door where temperatures and humidity can fluctuate and cause issues with condensation.
Brass instruments have their own set of storage rules. Brass, just like the family silver, will dull over time. Before it goes into the case for storage time, polish it thoroughly to make sure it is conditioned. Just like the silver, polish with a cheesecloth or use a lint free wipe and bring it to performance readiness. Clean inside tubes and the horn and the pistons, valve casings and the finger buttons. And then place the instruments in the proper cases.
When checking on an instrument that has been in storage for a while, check for discoloration of the surface, corrosion, mold, and cracked joints. Deformation of the instrument may also be a sign of damage. If you notice these issues, it is a good idea to take the instrument to a professional as soon as possible. Most of these problems will only get worse and more expensive to fix over time.
Musical instruments of all types do well in temperatures around 70 degrees and at humidity levels ranging between 40 and 60 percent. A good portion of repairs on instruments come from exposure to humidity extremes. Many storage facilities will allow you to use humidifiers and dehumidifiers to ensure that both the temperature and the level of moisture in the air are the best for what you are storing.
Musical instruments are like our cherished pets and they are an investment. They should be cared for the same way we care for our pets even when they are away from home for awhile. You can care for them best by storing them properly with the right conditions. In this way you will have your pet instrument without the need of repairs and for a lifetime.