Why you should always keep your Guitar in-tune and your neck straight
Author: Ian-Bush Date Posted:8 October 2011
Should I remove my strings if I’m leaving my guitar for a long time, or planning on taking a flight?
The answer to this is a very strong "NO!".
Most guitars have a truss rod, which is a long metal bar inside the neck that changes the bend of the neck, or keeps it straight. In many guitars, it only works one way (to straighten a bowed neck) but in our guitars, we use a 2-way truss rod (so it can fix either a bowed or arched neck).
Why? Everyone tells me I should loosen the strings and I’m worried about the pressure on the neck.
Normally when your guitar is new your neck will always bend a little (away from the string like a smile) due to the tension of the strings (even on a Nylon string guitar). The truss rod's purpose is to counter this bend and to ensure your neck is (almost) perfectly straight. A well-adjusted neck should have a very slight bend, but often the untrained eye can't see that it has a bend in it. If you have recently bought a guitar or even if you have an old one, it's well worth a quick look down the neck to see if it’s still straight. Once a guitar has been set-up the truss rod will be adjusted so that it's straight (but it will need adjustment from time to time as the guitar ages).
If you loosen your strings or take them off completely you remove the counter balance to the truss rod, and your neck will look like a frown (and trust me your guitar will feel sad!). If your guitar is left for any period of time like this, the neck can start to take on this shape and the guitar can even be permanently damaged.
The pressure in an aeroplane is not very strong and is not a problem for a well-made guitar, however, you should be careful of humidity and temperature fluctuation. If you have an all solid wood guitar, keeping something in the case to maintain the humidity at around 45% is a great idea. Aeroplanes are dry, and the when wood dries it shrinks and can damage or even split the wood on a solid wood guitar.