For us musicians, storing our instruments can be quite a hassle. As a musician myself, I’ve frequently dealt with “instrument acquisition syndrome”, the consequences of which could be seen strewn haphazardly across my apartment before I set out to organize my living space. I take a lot of pride in my musical instruments, but for visitors and friends, their presence in my living space didn’t add much to the aesthetic appeal of the place.
Although there’s a well established stereotype regarding artists and our messy predispositions, this doesn’t mean we can’t lend some order to the chaotic nature of our instrument storage solutions. Today I’m here to tell you how you can turn your collection of wayward musical instruments into both a well ordered and easily accessible part of your daily musical routine and an aesthetic addition to your living space.
I’m going to be venturing beyond simple storage solutions and into the interior design territory with some of the entries on this list, but those utilitarian solutions will also make an appearance. At the end of the day, your instrument collection doesn’t have to be anything besides what you want it to be; if all you’re looking for is some storage tips, then you’ll find them here, along with some (hopefully) creative ways you can incorporate musical instruments into your decor.
Before I go any further, I’d like to tell you about my instrument collection, so as to give you a better picture of how I implemented these solutions in my life. I play guitar, piano, accordion and to a lesser extent, bass and percussion. My collection consists of three electric guitars (a Tele, an ES-335 and a Les Paul) two acoustic dreadnoughts, a classical guitar, a Kawai upright piano and a Nord Stage 3 keyboard.
In addition to these instruments, I’ve got a smorgasbord of additional nicknacks and supplementary equipment; a 40W Vox modeling amp, a 100W Marshall head and cabinet, 13 or 14 pedals, an effects processor, two or three decent mics and about a mile of assorted cables. As someone living in a relatively small apartment, let me assure you of this: if I didn’t organize, I’d be swimming in instruments and equipment!
Now that you’ve got a better idea of what I’m working with, I’ll be sharing some of the ways I’ve managed to keep my instruments and equipment organized and accessible while adding a bit of aesthetic flair to the look of my living space. I’ll be going through this instrument by instrument, and adding some of my ideas for instruments that I don’t actually own. With that said, let’s take a look at some instrument storage solutions!
For many aspiring musicians, guitars are an obvious starting point. You can buy a cheap guitar of decent quality for under $100, learn a couple open chords and then add “musician, singer, songwriter” to your Instagram bio. In recent years, the quality of cheap guitars has improved quite a bit, and this has enabled many to pursue their musical inclinations without investing a great deal.
As a result of their affordability, guitars often don’t get the care and respect that they deserve. They’re left lying in corners, shoved under beds, or sequestered away in closets by their owners, who often won’t even take 20 minutes to change the strings every few months. If you want your guitar to stay playable, you’ll need to find the right place to store it. This should be a dry place with a stable temperature, where you can easily access it to change the strings when required.
For me, this place is my living room. While it’s not particularly large, there is some free wall space and floorspace. For my acoustics and my classical, I purchased a set of three guitar wall hangers and stored them on these. It looks great, and altogether it cost me less than $20 after all was said and done. It lends a sort of “outlaw country” feel to my living room, and I honestly couldn’t be happier about that!
My electric guitars took up residence in my spare room/studio where I keep my amps and workstation. The storage solution I ended up going with was a space-efficient DIY guitar rack that I built with 2x4s from the hardware store and some felt from the craft store. After a bit of sanding and some wood stain and varnish, it adds some rustic flair to the overall vibe of the room!
The first instrument I learned to play was the piano. Whereas guitar had always turned me off with its non-linear layout and painful-to-fret strings, the black and white keys had a reassuring order to them that gave me the impression that I could learn any piece of music, provided I practiced enough. So, I sat myself down at our beat-up old Kawaii, propped up a hymnbook on the music stand and started hammering out one-note melodies with all the grace of a bull in a china shop.
I got somewhat better, much to the relief of my family’s weary ears, and I still have an enduring love for the instrument to this day. I keep the old girl at my place now, but its presence presents a bit of a problem. How am I supposed to reconcile the weathered but stately gravitas of this once grand instrument with the brash, bold styling of my red Nord keyboard?
It took a bit of doing, but I managed to come to an amicable solution. As it stands, my Kawaii is something of a centerpiece for my living room. Its traditional aesthetic meshes well with the other acoustic instruments hanging on the wall, and there’s enough space for the tuner to pull it away from the wall when they need to. It’s also perfect for impromptu acoustic jam sessions!
My Nord moved into the spot adjacent to my workstation, taking up the space where the spare bed used to be. It allows me easy access for recording without having to set everything up each time, and there’s enough space for other musicians to play comfortably at the same time as myself. Sure, overnight guests sometimes bemoan the absence of a decent bed, but I’ve always been of the opinion that foldable cots are just as good as the real thing.
Hardware and equipment
Last but certainly not least, I’ve got my equipment. My amps, processors, cables and sound processor vary in how space-consuming they are, but they all share one thing in common: they can’t get wet, and they don’t like abrupt temperature changes. For me, managing my hardware was a bit tricky, because a lot of it takes up quite a bit of space.
My biggest difficulty was finding a place for my amp head and cabinet. This hulking monstrosity is a 3’x3’x4’6’, so finding the floorspace wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. I ended up placing it in the corner of my studio/spare room, where it has juuuust enough space to fit between my workstation and the wall. It’s not the most appealing aspect of the room, but when the cables are well managed it doesn’t necessarily take away from the overall appeal of the room.
For my cables, pedals and other odds and ends, I’ve come up with several solutions. I built a simple pedal board out of some plywood, a sheet of velcro, which adds a touch of grunge/punk to the overall look of the room. To go along with the pedal board, I also attached some simple hooks of various sizes to a sheet of plywood which I hung on the wall. This is the home of my cables, headphones and any other wired equipment. Altogether, the utilitarian flair is quite appealing!
I’ve also got some various odds and ends placed strategically around my living space, in such a way as to add to the general aesthetic appeal of my apartment. My modeling amp has the signature vox lattice pattern fabric over the driver, which goes well with the semi-folk aesthetic of my living room, and my mics and their stands look great standing up along my wall. All in all, I’m quite happy with how my living space has turned out!
Finding new accommodation
Now, although I’ve managed to find space for all of my instruments while keeping everything visually and aesthetically appealing, there’s no question that organizing my living space in this way was a challenge. I managed, but I haven’t yet been cured of instrument acquisition syndrome, which has led me to consider finding a new place to live.
If you also are considering finding a place to live that has a bit more space for your instrument collection, do yourself a favor and find a real estate agent in your area. These skilled, experienced professionals will do their best to put you and your collection in a home that suits your needs and your budget, in as little time as possible. Take it from me: there’s no one better suited to the task!