Hello, I need to build racks for about 350 guitar cases(all acoustic and banjos etc.) and am looking for ideas and photos. What do you guys use? Thanks! 

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Wow, that's a lot of guitars!  I presume the racks are just for storage and not display.

Here's a photo of what I did w/ 2x4 and 2x2 lumber and some screws and paint.  Took me a few hours, and cost little, with a space-saving small footprint.  The idea could be easily expanded.  Holds about 25 cases, and I didn't need to add a back rail to support the top of the case because they rest on the wall.

For a more secure installation, I could mount the rack to the wall w/ anchors.  Tom


Sorry, yes it is for storage only and the cases would not touch the walls it will need to be free standing. And yes that is a lot of cases and that doesn't count the 200+ electric ones!! Thanks!

Hi steve-- I have made racks for many things -- the one Im thinking of for your case is made like a fishing rod holder but made larger to accomidate the guitars that you have.

make a bout a 30 degree '' V'' on the bottom and then a rail along the top of both sides to keep the guitars from falling over.

make the top rails high enough to keep the guitars from falling over but wide enough the get them out of the rack..

I hope I have explained this without a pic so as you can understand the idea of the rack.

you can also make shelves to put the racks on so you can double stack the racks..

best to you on your adventure..

Peace,  Donald  

So 550 Guitar Cases in all.

With the uttermost respect, on a project like this, personally rather than focussing first upon the actual Design of the Racks, which (dependent upon whether they are intended for yourself, or for a Client who wants you to Design and Build them for them and has demanding, specific requirements),  should otherwise, be fairly simple to Conceive and Construct.

Instead, I would be looking at the Architects Blueprints of the Buildings. Considering in a practical way, the space in the room you have available for the Instruments to be stored in. Are there maintenance issues in regard to this room? Places workmen may need to locate at particular times? Routes of pipes or other unseen factors, that could, under certain circumstances, render the Instruments Highly Vulnerable to Deleterious Damage?

These are the first considerations that I would personally prioritise, and thoroughly check such concerns out with the Blueprints, but back that up with a consultation with the Architect themselves if possible, or his Representative. I would also if possible, want to talk with the Builder contracted to create the building, because it is often the case that Architects Plans are altered in the execution of many buildings. Contractors using cheaper alternative materials and fittings form alternative suppliers than those recommended in the Plans and so on. It is perfectly conceivable that various types of pipe work that might be undesirable or potentially problematic to sensitive Musical Instruments, could have been re-routed differently to what the Architects Blueprints indicate, for very practical, builder related convenience reasons.

It may seem like overkill, but I believe it's better to know these things than negligently not know about them at all. Most especially when the Lasting Security of a large number of Musical Instruments in involved. Otherwise, you might just store the most expensive, sensitive and vulnerable Musical Instruments right under a ceiling that has a water pipe hidden within it that has not been lagged. If the pipe then broke in winter, it could wreak absolute havoc, and irreparable damage to possibly irreplaceable Instruments. How would it look if you had not checked out such very basic possibilities?

Perhaps you can see, for me, the Designs of the Racks themselves, which should be quite straightforward, with a little application, would come way down the line of considerations, to be actively taken into account.


I would look at the Size and Shape of the Building, and after checking all the above, allow Function to Follow Form, in that the Building Design and the Form of its Space Inside, will itself very probably dictate, certainly suggest, the best way to proceed, to the next steps that need to be taken.

Whether the Instruments  can be accommodated around the walls of the room, or whether double sided central partitions will be required. Once you have all that clear, you will understand broadly  how and where the Musical Instruments will be located, and will fit in together as Groups that are relevant to their use. Maximising the floor footprint of the Rack vertically is De Rigueur.

Then, whatever Style and Material you actually choose to fabricate the Racks from. (And here you have plenty of options available at a wide range of costs). Form should follow Function, and their intended purpose should dictate every Design Aesthetic from there on. (Unless there is some particular, singular consideration required for instance, a Client might desire).


You will need to implement some kind of Environmental Control in the Building to Regulate Temperate and Humidity in as steady manner as is achievable, within moderately safe parameters, regardless of seasonal changes. Although the Instruments will be stored in Cases, exacting regulation of the climatic aspects of the Building will avoid a great many, potential, future problems.

I would include a Protectively Covered Workbench and a Seat, somewhere in the room, preferably two, both with good natural light, one for Acoustics and one for Electrics with a set of relevant tools to these Instruments included and  fitted to the Benches as part of the Design. The Electric one would include a small Amplifier, as all these Instruments (regardless of type) will periodically require checking out to ensure they are being maintained correctly, and for the need of service and maintenance. Convenient electrical points, will require wiring.

When a particular Guitar is to come into use, Strings should need tightening, as they will have been loosened for storage, perhaps they will require replacement. Volume and Tone Pot's must travel their compass without scratchiness etc. So some extensive testing will be required, and its days of work involved, so it's better to include a place to do that, in the plans.

And all this, quite apart from all the usual adjustments necessary for basic setting up an Instrument. Even when an Instrument is set up perfectly before storage. Electrics in particular will often be found to have the pressure of the Case over time, adjust the Bridge Height and things like that happen, especially with thumb wheel types. Necks can easily go awry on Acoustics if the Environmental Controls fail in extreme conditions. The bottom line is, these Guitars will need to be checked out periodically, to ensure all is actually, as it is believed to be.

Best to have a place to do that then, and the Tools handy to effect any needed adjustment while they are out and there. Taking Basic Set Up Measurements, and Recording them, not only allows direct comparisons for Instruments over time, but with an accompanying graph, can indicate ongoing trends that one might benefit from being aware of.

This is a form of Statistical Process Control for set up of each and every Instrument. With it, in such a well regulated set up for such a large amount of Instruments, you will be able to predict problems before they happen, and ensure the Guitars receive any necessary preventative maintenance, well before any huge difficulties arise.

It is preventative, pro active maintenance and a Computer and a Laser Printer will prove handy as each instrument can have its own charts specific to it.

Rather like in a busy hospital.



Finally, and I regard this to be most important indeed.

Certain well known individuals I could mention, have lamentably elected to store their Rare and Precious Instruments long term, laid on their side.

However, you may have noticed (though it appears to have entirely eluded the conscious minds of the afore mentioned individuals) that wood grows on trees, and trees, like to grow upright.

It has been my experience, that Musical Instruments stored on a long term basis, strongly favour being kept in an environment, that keeps them dead upright or as close as practically possible, to upright in a manner, entirely natural to them.

Wood has memory, and my experience would suggest that straight and true, highly desirable in many aspects of Musical Instrument Design.

Remains, returns and stays, all the more perfectly, in this upright position.

Although the Tree it came from, may be thought of as dead.

Think of the Instrument as a Living Thing.

The Tree merely lives on.

In another Form.



I have long been an admirer of Les Paul and the Gibson Model named after him.

When Les Paul died, I published a Tribute for those professionals who admired him I as did.

It is taken from a work by the Poet Shelly, whose has a huge memorial, in the City in which I was born.  



I hope you enjoy it and see its relevance to the Guitar as it is stored.  



A Tribute to Les Paul  


The artist who this idol wrought

To echo all harmonious thought,

Felled a tree, while on the steep

The woods were in their winter sleep,

Rocked in that repose divine

On the wind-swept Apennine;

And dreaming, some of Autumn past,

And some of Spring approaching fast,

And some of April buds and showers,

And some of songs in July bowers,

And all of love; and so this tree, -

O that such our death may be! -


Died in sleep, and felt no pain,

To live in happier form again:

From which, beneath Heaven's fairest star,

The artist wrought this loved Guitar;

And taught it justly to reply

To all who question skilfully

In language gentle as thine own;

Whispering in enamoured tone

Sweet oracles of woods and dells,

And summer winds in sylvan cells;-


For it had learnt all harmonies

Of the plains and of the skies,

Of the forests and the mountains,

And the many-voiced fountains;

The clearest echoes of the hills,

The softest notes of falling rills,

The melodies of birds and bees,

The murmuring of summer seas,

And pattering rain, and breathing dew,

And airs of evening; and it knew

That seldom-heard mysterious sound

Which, driven on its diurnal round,

As it floats through boundless day,

Our world enkindles on its way:-


All this it knows, but will not tell

To those who cannot question well

The Spirit that inhabits it;

It talks according to the wit

Of its companions; and no more

Is heard than has been felt before

By those who tempt it to betray

These secrets of an elder day.

But, sweetly as its answers will

Flatter hands of perfect skill,

It keeps its highest holiest tone

For one beloved Friend alone.


Store the Guitars upright.

It is, in reality, a Tree, usually several.

But in a very subtle, and extremely clever, disguise.




Thanks for the responses and Peter I thank you for the thoughts. Let me clarify; few of the cases have guitars in them, all of the electrics have racks, and I'm replacing 20+ years of hobbled together racks and various tables etc.. We have a large vintage shop and the space is well used and climate controlled etc.. Most of them are full sized "Martin" style cases and lots of vintage chipboard types in all conditions that don't ever move. Thanks again.

I think, give the numbers you mentioned, racks built along the lines of Onewent's  would work just fine with some minor modifications to make them free standing. If you have room, you might consider making them single layer with a solid top which would essentially give you tables as needed . With the addition of casters (locking) you could be free to move/arrange the racks as needed. 

If you need to make them stacking, they should attach to the walls or perhaps be double wide with access from both sides if free standing. You might consider a three rail design for the bottom too keep them from collecting detritus. 

Quote: "Let me clarify"




I had the idea.

It was a new installation.

What I use looks like this, in shape.


But doesn't have any of the unnecessary features included.

They are Purely Designed to Store Instruments in their Hard Cases.

As opposed to Stage Use, and have a Fully Fitted Back, and a Front Cover.

The Bottom of the Rack Stands are slightly Sloped, with Upper Slots as Partitions.

Thus, the Instruments are held in very close to Vertical Position, almost entirely by Gravity.

And an Equal Amount of Musical Instruments in Hard Cases, fit on top, Doubling the Storage Space for the same Ground Footprint.

I think a whole range of Design Solutions would be suitable and work well for you, and it's interesting to read of others ideas. Many Material Options could be chosen.

As best I can recall, my own Rack Stands, which were Designed and Made several decades before this type of Rack Stand became available commercially, cost around £40 a Pair in materials.

I find it difficult to imagine that if like me one did not require it to be transportable, (so no need for excessive bracing or wheels etc.) it would cost big money per Rack depending on what materials it was made of, and how it was fitted out and finished.

This assumes that one does the Design Work themselves, and puts some of their own time, effort and energies into such a Project. If one needed to pay a Carpenter then of course that would add additional labour costs. However, Designing and Building such Stands oneself affords the possibility of huge adventures in terms of Customisation Options.

Not least in Finish which could be Wood, cheap and cheerful MDF, or any of a Myriad of Simple Practical Choices including Metal.


Planning and Costing, is what will clarify many issues for you.


Good Luck with your Project!



That many instrument cases take up a LOT of space, and it's a problem we've wrestled with over the years.  After all our various attempts to be creative, we found that being flexible was far more important. So, we now use that cheap imported boltless steel rack shelving with MDF decking.  We get them as tall as logic and overhead will permit, and after trial and error we've found that 36" deep shelves work best for everything but mandolins, ukes and other short instruments.  I.D. tags go on the ends of the cases, of course.

The ability to reconfigure shelf height has been valuable when we do serious remodeling in the rooms.

Quote: "I.D. tags go on the ends of the cases, of course."


Good Call!

I wondered if I should have mentioned these.

The ones I use are very big Luggage Labels, much bigger than they appear below and very easy to record copious amounts of important details on with a Sharpie and Read.


Best of all they are quite cheap to buy and very strong and hardy, so if you use a good scribe, they last extremely well. Every Case here has a Label so I know what is actually in it. Lots of cases look completely identical in every respect so this is important.There are around a dozen purely Empty Cases ready all the time, but these also are Clearly Tagged, so that what Instruments will actually fit in them is clear demarcated, before anyone even tries.



I try to look at storage facilities in a strategic manner, and do plan things from the ground up, as best I can for long term growth.

Reading of Frank's struggles with these storage issues, as demands change and the eventual need to alter things around, reminded me of many of the struggles nearby Museums and Libraries here have had and continue to struggle with on a continuing basis. It's something we are no stranger to, but part and parcel of the lives of people that live here.


The Ashmolean for instance, has in recent years been completely remodelled.

The collection was actually started in the 1600's by a Gardener, and his son, though very few people seem to know that, but by now has over 1,000, 000 Items to Store.   

It's the oldest Museum in the English Speaking World, and so at any one time overall,  only a tiny fraction of its Treasures can be seen, and that's just for the length of the exhibition so  a few months.

All the Priceless Artefacts of History have to be stored away, in the main, and as the Museum grows year by year it's a constant problem finding suitable and safe places to store everything. It cost £98M to remodel the Museum, and as Americans you'll be proud to known a man born in Oregon was responsible for it.

The biggest headache though was where do you keep everything safe, whilst all this is going on? If you already haven't got room for everything anyway? In the Video below you will see some of 500 new pieces that have recently been added, and they all have to been found room for, and are worth many millions indeed.


They also put on plenty of Live Music.



The Bodleian Library is another case in point.

It holds a copy of every Book ever published in the U.K. and requests those of Ireland, so every year, space for huge amounts of extra shelving, have to be found.

Gradually everything is more and more moving underground here, although they have built new buildings elsewhere. Here they have miles and miles underground by now. They installed moving conveyors to move the Books to where they need to get to, the storage capacity is so great. They have been doing this, expanding growth year after year, for 400 years now.

If you watch the video below you'll understand how dealing with storage for many of us here, demands such a long term strategy thinking.



Perhaps my favourite is the Pitt-Rivers.

What this is actually, is a collection, created by just one Victorian Explorer, General Pitt-Rivers.

Everything here is strange, mysterious, exotic, wonderfully interesting and you will even find shrunken human heads smaller than a man's hand, of Pygmies.  

Huge Totem Poles transported halfway around the world at a time of little world travel. It all harkens back to a time when most of the world was yet to be explored, and you half expect to bump into Dr Livingstone around a corner.

Here's a Video of a fun night where the focus was on Face Masks from all over the World. Complete with Exotic Belly Dancing and Musicians.


But what you see is only the merest fraction of what has to be stored.

It's all priceless and irreplaceable, and there are plenty of Musical Instrument Collections, here that are all in a similar position.

During the recent Stradivarius Exhibition, featuring 21 Stradivari, there was a Stradivarius Harp (The only one in existence anywhere in the World) Stored away, completely out of sight.

This is why my interest in Storage is so great. It's a problem not just for me and my humble lot, but all part of a larger, on going, continuous problem, that we face here all the time, and have to find lasting solutions for.


In the Video above Stradivari Instruments worth Millions are being played to passer's by in the local Covered Market.

There is a Shop in the Market that sells Equestrian Paraphernalia, Saddles and other leather goods. For my wife's recent birthday,  I just bought her a couple of Handbags and a Purse from there, as she has all my money.

She needs somewhere to store it.



Peter, do they still keep "The Messiah" locked away and un-played?

Hi Ned!

The Messiah can easily be seen from every side on public display every day in the Ashmolean.

One of a number of Great Instruments, including extremely Historic Guitars, with one made by  Stradivari, that I have been privileged to be able to experience, my whole life through.

In the Movie above, Violins worth Millions are played publicly in an ordinary, every day setting. Making Great Art and Culture completely accessible to as many people as possible is something I strongly believe in.

I was tremendously pleased a year or so ago when on the day of a Landmark Birthday for me, a Company I have a strong interest in put on a Free Public Concert for 10,000 people in Trafalgar Square. They were educated to count beats and clap on accents like real musicians. Then able to listen to Stravinsky featuring The London Symphony Orchestra.



The Messiah is renowned as the best of the best.

Deliberately preserved to keep it that way, as once an Instrument  is used in Concert and Routine Maintenance and Repair is required, it would no longer be the prime example of a Brand New Stradivarius in the World.

The number of visiting Violin Experts and Professors that come from all over the Globe to examine this Instrument is quite boggling to the mind. The World Wide interest in it, is absolutely immense. And though its understandable if some have reservations about this, I don't. We can learn much more from it as it is, as will every future generation to come, without it being played, receiving Concert Performance wear and subsequently, being worked upon by third parties.


Here's an article that sums up my feeling well.

'When the exhibition comes to an end, the Messiah will return to it's normal place in the museum.

While most of the other Stradivari violins are played, either routinely or from time to time at special moments, the Messiah will remain behind glass according to the moratorium on playing that has existed since it was rushed to Oxford on the eve of World War Two in 1939. Even access for violin makers and experts is severely limited.

Every time an instrument is played it risks damage, routine maintenance by the wrong restorer also comes with its perils, and just the act of handling a violin of this quality involves the possibility it could be put down on a hard surface, knocked or dropped. But then, other instruments have been swept out to sea and have been recovered and rebuilt without losing their magic.

Napoleon's spur marks famously disfigure the 'Duport' cello, whilst one foolhardy British officer brought his Stradivari to the battle of Waterloo. It survived; he didn't. Closer to home, the 18th century artist, John Malchair ceased playing in the Oxford Orchestras after unruly undergraduates in the Holywell Music Room threw an orange that smashed his Cremona violin.

The Messiah has always aroused a public response from the contradiction of not being played. It is, after all, an object made to create music, and heralded as the very finest that survives. To a point, displaying it without any hope of experiencing what it sounds like is tantamount to putting the Mona Lisa in a box.

Endless arguments can be made in support of keeping it in the way that the bequest dictates. The damage and wear caused by playing during its small period in private ownership; that Stradivari himself preserved it, and it remained in his family for generations after his death; that we know precisely how it sounds because of the numbers of similar violins by Stradivari that are played regularly by soloists around the world; or finally that it has provided the benchmark for violin making and provides the purest and most direct insights into Stradivari's intellectual processes, proven by the very successful copies that have been made, and allowing future generations a unique opportunity to understand his work in the best possible light.'


The Hour Long Lecture given by the Curator on the Life of Stradivari was wonderful. An inspiration!

Although a relative of mine, worked for Craftsmen that worked at The Hill Brothers who donated The Messiah to the Museum, and so many of the deepest secrets, the most intimate involving it, are still only privately known.

In relation to the Thread Theme, perhaps one can appreciate that Adequate and Proper Storage is a Perpetual Problem here, that affects everyone that has lived here for a long time. Queens College have just built a New, Sunken Library, so as to minimise its effect on view of the Historical Architecture surrounding it. This kind of workaround goes on all the time.

It's a problem for me, although long term strategic planning has mitigated the worst difficulties, but for some of my pals who are responsible for ensuring the security and safety of so very many Historical Artefacts, it is a daily, weekly, monthly yearly ongoing problem that has to be continually addressed, and occasionally requires wholesale re-working. It may seem worlds apart for some here, but the underlying issues are largely the same, and the thoughts outlined previously should serve anyone attempting to install a New Major Facility, very well indeed.



Here you will see a Glimpse of The Messiah.

But far more interestingly, be able to Glimpse into the Mind of Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni as he painted the Ceiling of the Sisctine Chapel.

And amongst other items of interest. Glimpse the actual Lamp that was in the very hand of Guy Fawkes, when he was about to blow up The Houses of Parliament, which is the reason we have Bonfires with Guy's and Celebrate with Fireworks on Nov. 5th every year.



I had a 7 foot closet with a 14 foot ceiling in my old shop, I used 2x4's and joist hangers to create a V that would cradle the bottom of an acoustic guitar case and set them far enough from the back wall so they could lean against it. The shelf above was set so that the end of the case in the first row was behind the bottom of the case in the second row. I was able to fit almost a 100 cases in this space. I think it cost $20 a pizza and a 6 pack and took about 2 hrs. 


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