Wall hangers are a great way to show off your beloved guitar, but the advice isn’t always clear on whether or not they’re bad for guitars. A lot of this advice is based on opinions, speculation, and myth.
So, I put this detailed article together and reached out to experts to help you make an informed decision and whether wall-mounting your guitar will damage it.
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Is it bad to hang a guitar by the neck?
This is the first concern for people who are looking to wall mount their guitar, and for good reason! We all want to take the best care of our guitar, and most of us assume that hanging it by the neck would be bad for it – but this isn’t the case.
Let’s take a look at why it isn’t bad to hang your guitar by the neck.
Will it damage the neck?
There’s a lot of misinformation when it comes to whether wall mounting your guitar will damage its neck. Just take a look at this quote from guitar-legend Joe Bonamassa during a 2015 interview with GuitarPlayer magazine:
“[…] I’m not a huge believer in hanging guitars by their necks. I wouldn’t want to be hung by the scruff my neck on permanent display, and I think a guitar feels the same way—especially if it’s glued together, like an eight-pound Les Paul.”
It’s the last part of this quote that’s most interesting to me: “especially if it’s glued together, like an eight-pound Les Paul”. The implication is that the heavy weight of the guitar is going to pull down on the glued neck joint over time, and damage the guitar.
Logically, you can see how he arrived at his conclusion – and he’s not alone. I’ve heard this advice from a lot of guitarists over the years. But, it’s wrong.
Why? Well, the neck of your guitar is already designed to withstand a lot of pressure from your guitar’s strings.
The exact amount of pressure (called “string tension”) varies depending on how thick your strings are, but original research from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found that a single guitar string can exert a force of between 60 to 80 Newtons, about 13 to 18 lbs.
Multiply this by 6 (to account for all the strings on your guitar) and you get a total pressure of between 78 to 108 lbs on your guitar’s neck. Thicker strings will apply even more pressure.
So, when it comes to hanging your guitar on the wall, you don’t have to worry. The neck isn’t going to fall apart from a few extra pounds of weight! And, when it comes to guitars with glued necks, the glue is stronger than the wood itself. You’d have an easier time snapping the neck in two than pulling it out of its joint!
Will it damage the headstock?
Now that we know the neck is safe, what about the headstock? It’s another concern that makes sense, but again: there’s nothing to worry about.
The headstock is just an extension of your guitar’s neck. Like the rest of the neck, it’s designed to withstand large amounts of pressure from the strings.
We tend to think of headstocks as delicate as when we see a broken guitar, it’s usually snapped near the headstock. But, that’s just because when a guitar falls, the headstock is usually the first bit to hit the ground, and takes most of the force. But, they’re not any more delicate than the rest of your guitar.
As long as your guitar doesn’t fall from the hanger, your guitar’s headstock will be fine.
Will it damage the finish?
Wall mounting your guitar is a great way to show it off, but can this actually damage the finish? Potentially, yes.
There are a few ways that displaying your guitar can damage the finish over time: staining, wear, sun damage, damage from humidity changes, and accidental damage.
- Staining: Guitars that have a nitrocellulose finish can get stained by the material used for the wall mount.
- Wear: Lifting your guitar in and out of its mount will cause the neck to rub against the holster. Over time, this can wear away the guitar’s finish. For this reason, you should get a hanger that isn’t abrasive.
- Sun damage: Exposing your guitar to direct sunlight can cause damage to the paint. Again, this takes a long time to happen.
- Damage from temperature and humidity changes: Changes to the temperature and humidity level in your room can cause your guitar’s wood to expand and contract. Not only can this create cracks in the finish, but also damage some fittings and even warp the neck.
- Accidental damage: It goes without saying, but knocks to your guitar, or it falling from the mount, will likely damage your guitar’s finish.
All these adverse effects can be prevented by taking a few measures:
- Use a nitrocellulose-safe mount
- Wrap the mount in a low-abrasive material, like a cotton cloth
- Keep your guitar out of direct sunlight
- Keep the temperature between 66 and 77 °F (19 – 22 °C)
- Keep the humidity between 45 to 55%
- Keep your guitar out of high traffic areas, fit the mount securely to the wall, and be careful
What do the experts say?
I wanted to validate my findings, so I reached out to the luthier community on Reddit. I put up a poll asking the question “is it bad to hang a guitar by the neck”.
In less than 24 hours, I had 182 responses and a clear answer: over 93% of people voted “no”.
Some comments rightly pointed out that if the wall-mount isn’t properly secured to the wall, then your guitar can fall down. Others also highlighted that some materials can damage certain finishes, like nitrocellulose.
So, the experts agree: it isn’t bad to hang a guitar by the neck.
Thinking of installing a wall-mount? I’ve written an easy to follow, step-by-step guide that you can find here.
What’s the best wall hanger for a guitar?
If you’re looking to hang your guitar on the wall, I recommend using the Hercules GSP38WB wall mount. It’s the wall-mount that I use, and have installed on my wall at home.
I think it’s the best wall-mount because of the weighted locking system that gives an extra layer of security to my guitar. It gives me peace of mind knowing that my guitar isn’t going to accidentally slip off, like some other open face designs.
Not only this, but it’s made using “Specially Formulated Foam” (SFF) which will not react with nitrocellulose finish – as well as other types of guitar finishes. This is really important to me, as I want to keep my guitar’s finish in the best condition.
You can check out the latest price here on Amazon.
Please note: The fittings that come with this mount are for brick walls only. If you’re looking to install the hanger on drywall, be sure buy the appropriate wall anchor before installing.
Benefits of wall mounting a guitar
So, why bother wall-mounting a guitar? Here are a few advantages that wall mounts have over other storage methods.
Wall-hangers are as much about displaying your guitar as they are about storing them. You’ve put a lot of time and money into your guitar, so it’s only right that you get to show it off!
Hanging your guitar on the wall is a great way to decorate a room and put some of your personality into a space. Sure, you could hang a band poster up there – but what’s cooler than something that you can actually use to make music?
You can even get glass display cases, if you really want to show off your guitar!
Easy access to your guitar
We’re all busy people, so when our guitar is out of sight, it’s often out of mind too. It’s easy to ignore your guitar when it’s locked away in a case. So, having your guitar clearly visible and within reach makes you more likely to pick it up and play.
Regularly playing your guitar is essential to getting better – even if it’s just a quick jam while you wait for your computer to load.
Seeing your guitar, even if you’re not in the mood to play, can often give you the nudge you need to get practicing again.
If you’re like me and use a small room for all your music activities, you’ll know that space is a constant battle. Music gear is bulky!
Wall-mounting your guitar is a great way of saving space in a room. Instead of taking up floor-space with a stand, you’re using vertical storage space. This will make your room bigger.
This is doubly true for those of us with multiple guitars. Instead of using a bulky guitar storage rack, you can hang up your guitar, using a fraction of the space.
Less likely to get knocked
Traditional guitar stands are great, but they’re not the most sturdy things in the world. One accidental knock, and your guitar will likely be hitting the floor.
For those of us with pets and small children running around the house, hanging your guitar up out of the way is a great way to avoid accidental damage.
I recommend using a wall-mount with a locking system that’ll make sure your guitar even more safe and secure.
Disadvantages of wall mounting a guitar
Wall-mounting your guitar is not without its risks. Here are a few things you should consider before deciding to hang your guitar on the wall.
Wall-mounts are only safe for your guitar if they’re attached to the wall securely. If you install a wall-mount using the wrong fixings – it’ll come crashing down, along with your beloved axe.
Falls from heights are a serious problem for guitars. They’re narrow, so it’s usually a small bit of the guitar that comes into contact with the ground first, taking a lot of the impact. This can cause a lot of damage that can be expensive or impossible to repair.
So, a word of caution: make sure you use the correct fittings. If you’re unsure, ask a professional. It’ll be worth the few extra dollars knowing your guitar is safe and sound.
Direct sunlight isn’t good for your guitar. Instead of developing a nice tan, your guitar will likely begin to discolor. The effects are more obvious on lighter, nitrocellulose finishes, but it’ll be happening to any guitar in the sun.
Sunlight usually means concentrated heat, which is also bad for your guitar. Direct heat can make the components expand and contract, which can cause them to warp and deform.
Set up your wall hanger in a nice shady spot, and you’ll be fine.
Temperature and humidity changes
Rapid changes in the temperature and humidity of a room can affect the wood of your guitar. It’s not obvious to the naked eye, but wood expands in hotter temperatures and contracts in cooler temperatures.
This movement can crack the painted finish of guitars and, in some cases, damage the components. The biggest casualty of this is neck warping. A warped neck is very expensive to fix, sometimes impossible.
To avoid damage, make sure that the room your guitar is in has a steady temperature and humidity throughout the year.
This might seem like a small problem, but dust can really affect your guitar. Not only does it make your guitar look bad, and get all over you when you play, but it can damage your electronics.
Fine dust particles can work their way into your guitar’s cavities, causing problems with the signals. Have you ever had a crackle when you’re turning your volume up or down? How about a problem with one of your pickup selector positions? Chances are that this was caused by a dust build up.
To avoid this, don’t give the dust a chance to settle – pick up your guitar and play it more often! But, more importantly, make sure to clean your guitar regularly. Get a can of compressed air and blast out any crevices. Follow it up with a quick squirt of switch cleaner, and you’ll be good to go.
Should you wall mount a guitar?
Wall-mounting your guitar is safe, but should you do it? It’s a question that’s all down to personal preference, but here’s my opinion.
I’d recommend wall-mounting a guitar for any of the following reasons:
- you have limited space
- you want to show off your guitar(s)
- you want to keep it off the floor (and safe from being knocked over)
- you have a room with a stable temperature and humidity
Otherwise, I’d recommend keeping your guitar in a hard case. It’s honestly the best place for it. Hanging your guitar by the neck won’t damage it, but having it off the floor increases the risk it could fall. A faulty hanger or a loose screw could see your pride and joy come crashing down.
Personally, I prefer to store my guitars in a hard shell case, standing upright, and out of the way. But, I also have limited space, so I do use a wall mount for one of my guitars.
Ultimately, it’s for you to decide whether you want to use a wall-mount for your guitar or not. Now that you know the risks, you can make an informed decision.
There’s a lot of misinformation about whether wall-mounts are safe, and a lot of it comes from myth and rumour. The truth is that hanging your guitar by the neck is a perfectly safe way to store your guitar, and the experts agree.
However, there are some things you need to be aware of:
- the mount is secured firmly to the wall using the correct fittings
- the guitar must be out of direct sunlight
- the room must have a stable temperature (66 – 77 °F) and humidity (45 – 55%)
- the material should be nitrocellulose safe
- your guitar should be cleaned from dust often
Personally, I recommend storing your guitar in a hard case. It’s the place that’s the least likely to get damaged. However, I also use a wall hanger for my guitar to save some space.