Today, we have Dan, who will tell us a word about proper musical equipment storage…something I never thought would be that important.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t count on one hand the number of bands I know that have had their equipment stolen (mine included) whether from their van or their practice lockup. And every single time, it always feels like such an injustice when you have something stolen from you.
Most musicians trying to make a career don’t usually make a lot of money – this is just the way it is, unfortunately. Therefore, when expensive equipment is stolen not only is it heart breaking, but it can also mean that any gigs lined up may have to be cancelled. Thus, putting their career on hold and sometimes, stopping before they have even begun.
Should I store musical equipment in a lockup?
Manchester band and Clockwork Radio recently had all of their equipment stolen from the back of their van as they prepared to perform at Liverpool’s Threshold Festival; over 7,000 GBP worth of equipment was stolen.
While vans are a much easier target for thieves as they are considerably less well protected, practice rooms and lockups are not the safest places to store musical equipment either. I remember arriving at the lockup where my band kept all of our equipment where the locks had been busted open, doors were kicked in and most of our expensive equipment was gone.
The thieves stole a few guitars (an Italia-Maranello Roadster Guitar RRP 400 GBP & a 1990s Japanese Fender Stratocaster RRP 500+ GBP) and all of our amps, pedals, speakers and mixers. I found it a very incredibly frustrating ordeal to know that the equipment that I had collected and saved up for, over many years may I add, had been snatched away. And what you had thought to be secure (there were 3 locked doors between the street and our lockup) proved to be just the opposite. To add insult to injury, we were paying for the place too!
In retrospect, the main problem with storing our equipment at our lockup was that there was absolutely no security; there were no CCTV cameras or access control systems to deter thieves, which in hindsight, we should have known better.
Where should bands store equipment?
In my opinion, self-storage units are the safest place you can store your equipment besides a bank vault of course. I say this because most UK self-storage companies offer manned security during their opening hours and 24-hour CCTV both outside and inside the premises. You also get given a key card that you can buzz yourself in with.
While this may not be quite as convenient as keeping your equipment in a lockup or bedroom, the cost, in my experience, was much less than a practice lockup and much more secure than a bedroom. The storage containers themselves are spacious. You can choose the right size you need to store your gear and how long you need to rent the storage unit.
Temperature and musical equipment
Self storage containers generally have to be temperature controlled to ensure that the items within the unit are maintained at a constant temperature. As a musician, I know that such feature is particularly important with regards to musical equipment. In the extremes of temperatures, wood (which the guitars are made from) warps, causing problems with intonation and (even after a set up) can cause problems down the line.
By simply storing your guitar in your car or garage overnight can cause irreparable damage to even the best-built instruments. Even from being transported from a hot venue straight into a cold night can cause minor warps, which is why it’s important to keep your instrument in a hard case straight from the stage. While this doesn’t completely maintain the temperature of the instrument, once closed, it actually slows down the temperature change so your instrument isn’t being taken from extreme to extreme, hence, preventing warping.
Repairing your guitar after warping can become quite expensive, especially if it’s done on a regular basis. Thankfully, there’s a luthier (someone who repairs string instruments) near me who charges a mere 20 GBP per setup. While this isn’t a huge amount of money for a one off, if you’re storing multiple instruments in places which aren’t temperature monitored, you can expect this expense to mount up.
If your alternative option was to store your guitar in a garage, car or cellar, the cost of renting a self storage container would probably outweigh the cost of future set ups.
Dan is a member of our Manchester storage team and provides information and advice in regards to correctly storing items.