Tips From the Tech: Leaving a Guitar in a Car?

By: Josh Lucas

While gathering ideas for the blog, I started doing some research on the negative effects of leaving one’s guitar in the car. I noticed several recurring themes in the articles that I read, so I’ve tried to condense them into this article, as well as put some of my own experiences in there. 

When I reached out to our resident guitar tech/teaching wizard Brandon Arnold for his advice, it echoed much of the research I had already done. Additionally, since most of my experience up until recently has been with electric guitars, I tried to add as many perspectives as I could.

So here’s the scenario: you’ve got a big day ahead of you, you’ve got work, maybe you’ve got to go to the store, but at the end of the day–you’ve got a lesson, or even a gig to go to. Hey, time’s short, space is limited–sounds like a good reason to leave your guitar in the car all day.

It’s not. Please, please don’t do this. Your guitar is not a tree–it used to be one.

It’s good to get in the habit of bringing your guitar in with you, even if you’ve got a busy schedule. Think about it–is it too cold or hot for you to stay in your car? Then, why leave your guitar in your car? You think you can’t kill it, too? Sure, maybe you won’t. You might only mangle it. 

Now, we’ll get to the solutions later. Let’s talk about the issues.

You know how hot your car gets in the Summer–it’s like your own personal sauna every time you get back in your car. In some cases, it can get so hot in your car that it can weaken the glue on your guitar-yikes! Use your imagination–the worst case scenario isn’t all that unlikely. It can negatively affect nearly every component in the guitar.

During Winter in a cold climate, you’ll notice almost immediate effects on the metal components of the guitar–strings, tuning keys, and any other components will experience condensation when moving from a cold to a warm environment.

When we expose our instruments to extreme weather at either end of the scale, the tension  from the strings will increase and decrease, since metal expands and contracts as temperatures increase and decrease. This doesn’t only affect your tuning and truss rod! The bridge, which is glued to your guitar’s top, is under constant pressure from the strings. That means that wide variations in temperature over time will weaken all of your instrument’s components, and cause an all-too-common problem with acoustic guitars–the bridge plate could come unglued and rip from the guitar’s top.

The simplest solution, and honestly the only one I can recommend 100% is to bring your guitar inside with you, and minimize its exposure to extreme temperatures. In my younger, more reckless days, I had moderate success with creating makeshift sun-blockers–but while I was typing that method, I realized that it seemed really bone-headed and ill-advised. There are so many factors involved that I truly can ONLY recommend keeping the guitar inside, in a case with a humidifier! Unless, of course, you’re playing it.

I’ll leave you with some links to our guitar humidifiers, and remember–treat your guitars like beloved members of your family. They deserve long and beautiful lives.