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Will An Acoustic Guitar Warp In The Heat?

Heat can cause acoustic guitar warping. Learn how to prevent and fix this issue. Read on for tips to help protect your instrument during hot weather conditions.

The beautiful sound of an acoustic guitar is a cherished feature in various genres of music, from classic rock and folk to contemporary pop and indie. For many musicians, their guitar is an extension of themselves, and they often take great care to ensure the instrument lasts a lifetime. 

As a delicate creation, an acoustic guitar is highly susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity that can adversely affect the structure and sound quality of the instrument. For those living in warmer climates or planning on storing their prized guitar for an extended period, one pressing concern surrounds the potential for heat and humidity to warp the delicate wooden components of their beloved instrument.

This article seeks to examine the question: Will an acoustic guitar warp in the heat? To provide a comprehensive understanding, we will explore the factors that contribute to the potential warping of an acoustic guitar due to heat exposure, the types of damage that may result, and the preventive steps musicians and guitar owners can take to protect their investment in these delicate, yet powerful instruments.

Our research will include expert insights and advice from top luthiers and acoustic guitar enthusiasts as well as scientific explanations of the physical processes that lead to warping or other heat-induced damages.

So, before you rush off to store your guitar in the attic or throw it in the car for a road trip in the blazing sun, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the potential risks and methods of prevention to keep your guitar sounding and looking great for years to come. 

Table of Contents

Can leave a guitar in a hot car damage it?

When a guitar is left in a hot car, it’s exposed to high heat, which can affect the instrument’s shape and sound. Acoustic guitars are especially prone to warping due to their wooden structure.

Heat causes the wood to expand and contract, and this can create deformations in the neck, top, or back of the guitar. The strings can also become slack or break due to the changes in tension caused by the temperature.

How does heat affect an acoustic guitar?

As mentioned, heat can cause a guitar to warp, but it can also affect the finish of the instrument. The lacquer or varnish can become sticky or crack, damaging the aesthetic of the guitar. Additionally, the high heat can damage the glue used in the construction of the guitar, weakening the bond between the wood pieces.

What about an electric guitar?

Electric guitars are not immune to the effects of high heat. The pickups and other electronic components can be damaged by extreme temperatures, and the wood can swell or shrink, affecting the playability of the instrument.

What if the guitar is in a case in the car?

A guitar case adds protection against temperature changes, but it’s not a foolproof solution. A hardshell guitar case offers more insulation from the heat or cold, while a soft case can provide some protection, but it’s still vulnerable to the outside temperature. It’s always recommended to avoid leaving your guitar in a car, whether it’s in a case or not.

How does humidity affect a guitar?

Humidity levels can also damage a guitar, whether it’s too high or too low. When the air contains too much moisture, the wood of the guitar can absorb the water, causing it to swell or even crack. On the other hand, if the air is too dry, the wood can shrink, leading to fret buzz, cracks, or other damages.

What happens if a guitar is stored in a humid place?

If a guitar is stored in a place with high humidity, the wood can absorb too much moisture, causing it to expand and warp. The strings can also rust or corrode, leading to a shorter lifespan for the instrument.

What if the humidity is too low?

If the air is dry, the wood can shrink or crack, and the instrument’s intonation can be affected. The low humidity can also cause the guitar’s finish to crack or become dull.

Should you use a humidifier for your guitar?

It’s recommended to use a humidifier for your guitar, especially if you live in an area with low humidity. A guitar humidifier can add moisture to the air, keeping the instrument’s wood in a stable condition. However, it’s crucial to avoid over-humidifying the guitar, as this can cause the wood to swell and crack.

What temperature and humidity should I keep my guitar in?

Temperature and humidity are essential factors in keeping your guitar in good condition. While the optimum levels may vary depending on the instrument, a general rule is to keep the guitar in an environment with a relative humidity of 40-60% and a consistent temperature between 60-75°F (15-24°C).

What happens if a guitar is left in extreme temperatures?

When a guitar is exposed to extreme temperatures, it can warp or crack, and the finish can become damaged. The guitar’s metal parts can expand or contract, leading to issues with tuning or intonation.

What is the optimal temperature and humidity for a guitar?

As mentioned, the optimum temperature for a guitar is between 60-75°F (15-24°C), and the relative humidity should be between 40-60%. These levels will keep the guitar in good condition and prevent any damage caused by extreme temperature or humidity.

Can changes in temperature and humidity warp a guitar?

Yes, changes in temperature and humidity can cause a guitar to warp, crack, or become damaged. It’s important to store your guitar in a stable environment to prevent any significant changes in these factors.

What is the best way to transport a guitar in variable weather conditions?

When traveling with your guitar, it’s vital to protect it from extreme weather conditions. Here are some tips:

How to keep your guitar safe while transporting it?

Use a hardshell guitar case for maximum protection against temperature and humidity changes. Place the guitar in the trunk of your car rather than the seats as it’s more likely to be exposed to direct sunlight there.

What if you have to leave your guitar in a car?

If you have no choice but to leave your guitar in a car, try to park it in a shaded area or cover the case with a cloth to prevent direct sunlight from hitting the instrument.  Additionally, try to crack the windows open slightly to allow for some air circulation, which can help regulate the temperature inside the car.

When leaving your guitar in a car, always remember that extreme temperatures and humidity can cause damage to the instrument. So, it’s essential to limit the exposure time as much as possible and ensure the guitar is back in a stable environment as soon as you can.

Consider using a humidifier or dehumidifier in the guitar case to help maintain optimal relative humidity levels if you know you will be leaving the instrument in the car for an extended period. Remember to visually inspect your guitar for any signs of warping, cracks, or other damage when you take it out of the car, and get any issues professionally addressed as soon as possible to minimize any potential long-term harm.

What if the guitar is a solid-body guitar?

Solid-body guitars are less vulnerable to humidity and temperature changes than acoustic models. Still, it’s recommended to keep them in a stable environment and use a hardshell case for transportation.

How to prevent heat damage to your guitar?

How to prevent heat damage to your guitar

Prevention is key when it comes to protecting your guitar from heat damage. To prevent heat damage to your guitar, follow these guidelines:

  1. Never leave your guitar in a hot car or trunk, even if it is in a case. Temperatures inside a vehicle can quickly rise to dangerous levels.
  2. Avoid storing your guitar near heaters, radiators, or in direct sunlight. Extreme temperature fluctuations can cause damage over time.
  3. Try to maintain a stable temperature and humidity level in the room where your guitar is stored. If necessary, consider using a home humidifier or dehumidifier to maintain a consistent environment.
  4. Always store your guitar in its case when not in use, as this can provide some protection from temperature and humidity changes.
  5. Regularly inspect your guitar for signs of heat damage, such as warping or cracking, so you can address any issues before they become more significant.

How can heat ruin your guitar?

Heat can cause a guitar to warp, crack, or affect the finish. It’s crucial to avoid leaving your guitar in a hot car or a place where the temperature fluctuates significantly. Extreme heat can cause the wood and other materials in a guitar to expand, which can lead to warping or bending over time.

This is particularly concerning for the neck of the guitar, as any changes to its shape can greatly affect the instrument’s playability and sound quality. Increased humidity that often accompanies high temperatures can also lead to swelling of the wood and may cause the glue holding the instrument together to weaken, possibly resulting in parts separating.

The finish of a guitar can also be damaged by heat. High temperatures can cause the finish to become soft, which makes it more susceptible to dings or scratches. In some cases, prolonged exposure to excessive heat can even cause the finish to blister or peel away from the wood.

What should you do if you left your guitar in a hot car?

If you accidentally leave your guitar in a hot car, take it out and let it adjust to room temperature in a stable environment. Check the guitar for any signs of damage or warping.

What if you accidentally left your guitar in extreme heat?

If your guitar has been exposed to extreme heat, it’s best to take it to a professional for inspection. Depending on the damage, you might need to replace certain parts or even the entire instrument. In conclusion, when it comes to guitar care, temperature, and humidity are essential factors to consider.

Guitars are sensitive instruments, and protecting them from extreme temperatures and humidity is essential for maintaining their performance, appearance, and longevity. Avoid leaving your guitar in a hot car or humid place, and use a hardshell case for transportation.

Keep your guitar in a stable environment with optimal levels of humidity and temperature, and use a humidifier if necessary. By following these tips, you can ensure that your guitar stays in good condition and lasts for years to come.


Q: How Does Temperature Affect An Acoustic Guitar Compared To A Solid-Body Electric Guitar?

A: Acoustic guitars are more sensitive to temperature changes than solid-body electric guitars. Extreme heat or cold can cause the wood to contract or expand, leading to warping or cracking.

Solid-body guitars are generally more resistant to these changes, but they can also be affected if exposed to extreme conditions for a prolonged period of time.

Q: Can Leaving An Acoustic Guitar In Your Car Cause Damage From The Heat?

A: Yes, leaving your acoustic guitar in a hot car can cause significant damage. High temperatures can cause the wood to expand, leading to warping, cracking, and detuning.

It is crucial to avoid leaving your guitar in a hot car, or any location where it may be exposed to extreme temperatures.

Q: How Can I Keep My Acoustic Guitar Safe From Temperature Changes?

A: To keep your guitar safe, always store it in a case when not in use, and keep it away from direct sunlight or extreme heat sources. Be cautious when transporting your guitar, and avoid leaving it in your car for extended periods of time.

Keep your guitar in a controlled environment, with consistent humidity and temperature levels, to minimize the risk of damage from temperature changes.

Q: Do Low Humidity Levels Pose A Similar Risk As High Temperatures For Acoustic Guitars?

A: Yes, low humidity levels can also cause damage to your acoustic guitar. Dry air can cause the wood to contract, leading to cracks and other structural issues.

It’s essential to maintain an appropriate humidity level for your guitar, ideally between 40-60% relative humidity, to prevent damage from low humidity.

Q: Can Playing the Guitar In A Cold Environment Cause Damage?

A: Playing your acoustic guitar in a cold environment can pose some risks. The contraction of the wood may make your guitar more susceptible to cracks or warping.

However, as long as you avoid sudden temperature swings and keep your guitar properly humidified, playing in a colder environment should not cause any significant issues.

Q: How Can I Store My Acoustic Guitar To Protect It From Heat And Cold?

A: Store your acoustic guitar in a case when not in use, and place it in a temperature and humidity-controlled environment. Avoid storing your guitar near heat sources, such as radiators or sunny windows, and keep it away from drafty areas.

Consider using a room with a humidifier or dehumidifier to help regulate humidity levels and protect your guitar from damage caused by temperature and humidity fluctuations.

Q: How Can I Tell If My Acoustic Guitar Has Been Damaged From Heat Exposure?

A: Signs of heat damage on your acoustic guitar may include warping or puffing of the wood, lifting of the bridge, cracks, or finish bubbles.

If you suspect your guitar has suffered heat damage, consult a professional luthier or guitar technician for an assessment and potential repairs.

Q: Should I Never Leave My Acoustic Guitar In A Cold Car?

A: While it is best to avoid leaving your acoustic guitar in a cold car, if you must do so, try to minimize the time it is exposed to cold temperatures.

Use an insulated case to help protect your guitar from temperature swings, and acclimatize your guitar gradually when moving it between different temperature environments.

Q: Does Heat And Cold Impact The Finish Of The Guitar?

A: Yes, heat and cold can impact the finish of your acoustic guitar. Extreme temperature fluctuations can cause the finish to crack, peel, or blister.

To keep your guitar’s finish in good condition, store it properly and avoid exposing your guitar to extreme temperatures or direct sunlight.

Q: What Type Of Case Is Best For Protecting A Guitar From Heat And Cold?

A: A high-quality hardshell case with proper padding and insulation is the best option for protecting your acoustic guitar from heat and cold.

These cases provide a stable environment for your guitar when stored or during transportation, helping to shield it from temperature swings and other potential damage.

Final Verdict

 In conclusion, the risk of acoustic guitar warping due to heat exposure is a real concern that musicians and guitar enthusiasts should take into account. High temperatures, along with other environmental factors such as humidity, can have detrimental effects on the guitar’s wooden components leading to warping, cracking, or other structural issues.

To maintain the sound quality, playability, and overall longevity of an acoustic guitar, it is important to store the instrument in a stable environment, avoiding extreme temperature fluctuations, direct sunlight, and excessively dry or damp conditions. Investing in a quality guitar case, using a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels, and opting for a climate-controlled storage space can help prevent heat-induced damage.

By taking proper care and being mindful of storage conditions, one can reduce the likelihood of their acoustic guitar warping in the heat, ensuring many years of enjoyable playing experience.

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