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What are the worst things you can do to your guitar (or other wooden instrument) ?

The worst things you can do to your guitar-
Without overstating the negative, there are some sneaky enemies to your guitar that you might not have thought about. Sure, crushing it, throwing it off a cliff.. but realistically a little neglect can really mess up a guitar.
1.Dry air
Believe it or not humid air is not usually permanently damaging to a guitar. Too much moisture is not particularly good, but overly DRY air can completely destroy it. If you live in climate that is dry (below 30% humidity) at least part of the year, it’s a good idea to keep the guitar in its case, and place a guitar humidifier in there too. Wood is porous and absorbs water. In fact a cellulose sponge is actually made from wood. As the wood shrinks from over-dry conditions, you can only imagine.. the fibers begin to pull away from each other, and from the glues that hold the guitar together. Binding material, pick guards can all become loose, buckled, cracked and broken. If it reaches a critically dry stage, the wood will actually begin to split apart and wrench itself loose from the other parts of the guitar. Basically the guitar will destroy itself. Dry air is considered to be one of the most destructive environments to keep the guitar in, period. I’ve seen guitars kept in overly humid environments become warped and unplayable, looking awful with the top bulging up and the bridge too high. Then the same guitar after it’s had a chance to dry properly fall right back into place and be perfectly fine. Remember, the winter is often the worst time of year, when the moisture in the air outdoors is frozen right out of it and the heat is on. Guitar humidifiers are inexpensive and super simple to use. They contain some type of absorbant material like a clay compound or a piece of spongy material inside. SImply moisten, put it back into its ventilated cover and keep it- and your guitar in the case latched up when you’re not playing it! The ideal moisture level is about 45% RH. Check out my web store I’ve got several types of humidifiers listed there.

2. Heat.
A lot of folks have seen wood being bent for furniture construction using steam- and the wood will become flexible as the fibers are coaxed into letting their firm grip loose from one another. The builder forms the wood into its new shape and clamps it until it cools. But it’s not the water that’s actually allowing this to happen, it’s the heat. Steam is an efficient way to deliver heat without the risk of burning, but it’s really only the heat making the wood pliable. The same results are obtained with heating elements and special ovens that heat wood to a temperature of about 150 to 170 degrees F. Wood can be bent into many shapes far from their natural shape so keep your guitars banjos and mandolins OUT OF THE HOT CAR and definitely not in the trunk of a car in the summer time. You never know what kinds of twists, bends and ruin your instrument will be in when you see it next. Remember too, that a steel string guitar has a good 75-80 pounds pull on it from the strings that can persuade the guitar to bend if too hot. And a note to vintage instrument owners: Hide glue is the old glue made from horse and cattle hides and hooves. They used to use it a lot. Some luthiers still use it. It is essentially pure collagen. It’s a hot glue that’s melted in a heated pot and applied hot. It will soften and let go anytime, anywhere, if it gets hot again. Don’t let it.

3. Direct sunlight
Even if the sunlight doesn’t dry the wood too much nor heat the wood to the point it can bend, it can still destroy the finish on a nice instrument. If you keep it out in the open and the sun comes in to strike it, over time the finish can crack, check and discolor. And the wood itself will become discolored from the UV rays. A little playing outdoors is fine, you want to enjoy playing outside but limit its exposure during the long hours you’re not playing it.

4. physical damage
In keeping with all of the other pitfalls, a couple of kids rough housing can fall and crush a guitar. Anything falling, flying or running can destroy your instrument. A heavy banjo will almost certainly break its headstock off if it falls over while on a stand, this is very, very common. All of these things can be mitigated simply by keeping your instrument in its case. This is where it’s safest!

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