5 Minute Question: Can you leave your guitar plugged in? (Questions Answered)

We have all had questions about our home music equipment, especially in the beginning when there are so many unknown factors. We wanted to focus on beginner-friendly advice and hopefully answer the burning questions that you might have as a new guitarist or recording hobbyist.

Some of these questions might seem rudimentary or downright silly, but believe me, people ask all the time. This should serve as a fun resource for you if you are just getting started. We will cover many topics such as: What happens if a guitar is plugged in all the time? Can the cable break? Can the jack stop work? Will it mess up the electronics? Let’s find out!

Can you leave your guitar plugged in?

The main question I get asked all the time is “can my guitar stay plugged in all the time?”, or “Is it bad to leave guitar plugged in?” to which I simply answer, “That depends”. There are many factors that you need to think about before you leave your guitar with its cable plugged in all the time. Factors such as cable quality, weather conditions, material construction of your guitar.

Let’s say you have a heavy-duty cable plugged into the output jack on your guitar which is made out of components that are meant to last. You then accidentally trip over the guitar cable, and instead of the cable pulling out, you knock over your guitar, and who knows what else.

Also, consider how your guitar is being stored with the cable plugged in. Is it on a wall hanger, a guitar stand, or lying flat? In each case, you will want to think about the strain on the guitar cable and the force being exerted on the guitar jack. If the guitar is yanked or pulled on then you risk damaging your input jack, your guitar cable, and the device that you are connected up to.

Unless you have a dedicated area where you are the only person with access, I would recommend unplugging your guitar cable between practices.

Can I leave my guitar in my car?

The first thing I have to say about this is that if you are leaving your guitar in your car for extended periods, then you are not practicing enough! From that standpoint alone I would say, no, never leave your guitar anywhere that you cannot play it in a few moment’s notice.

Leaving your guitar in your car opens you up to all kinds of risks, such as:

  • theft
  • extreme temperatures like excessive heat, cold, and humidity
  • warping in the sun
  • being abused by unruly passengers
  • getting damaged from rolling around in the trunk of the car

There are no positives to leaving your guitar in your car, so rather take it inside with you, even if it is inside a garage or underground parking. You never know what could happen.

Sometimes it is impossible to avoid leaving your guitar in your car, such as when transporting it to events or jams or band practices. In this case, you want to think about the guitar and how much stress is being exerted on it.

Is it in a gig bag, or is it in a proper protective case? As for whether or not you can keep your guitar in a cold car, you need to think about what conditions your guitar might be under inside its carry case.

If your guitar is safely protected with a temperature-resistant bag, then you probably can get away with leaving it in your car for a short while, but remember that inside your guitar neck is a metal truss rod.

When metal is cooled, it contracts and puts strain on the relief of your guitar neck. The same is true of humidity, wood tends to expand in humid conditions, allowing your guitar to bow if things are extreme enough.

Can I leave my guitar outside?

What?!! Seriously, no. Your guitar is not a toy, it is an instrument. This means that for it to do what it does best, play music, it cannot be outside the tuning parameters that it was designed for.

Leaving your guitar outside in the cold will only put additional strain on the wood and components of your guitar. The steel strings that are on your guitar will contract in the cold, putting additional strain on the and truss rod.

If you live in a warmer climate, then the risk of direct sunlight and humidity will certainly cause additional wear and tear on your guitar, and not the good kind. Even if you have a guitar case or bad, the answer is still no: do not keep your guitar outside or in the cold. Keep it out of direct sunlight, and make sure that it is always protected from the elements.

I shouldn’t have to say this either, but while we are at it, definitely keep your guitar out of the rain. It will do much more damage than you can imagine.

Can I leave my guitar at my practice space?

Do you even play guitar, bro? What are you doing? Definitely not, the average guitarist needs to play every day to keep that muscle memory and ear training alive. Leaving your beloved guitar somewhere far away from you is a good way to not be able to play it.

I know that practicing is a lot, but if you can’t travel with your guitar or take it somewhere for some daily playing then you don’t deserve it.

If there is no other option and you must leave your guitar in some kind of storage facility, a friend’s house, or the band room, then make sure it is safe, and that the temperature and humidity are both at acceptable levels. If you are uncomfortable at those temperatures, then your guitar is going to be uncomfortable too.

I know that a lot of people do not have the money for a high-end guitar case, but I would recommend one, even if only to leave it in your practice space. You can get a cheap hardshell case from Amazon or eBay for around  USD 50. If you are leaving your guitar somewhere unsafe then there is no other way to do it.

Get more practice time in every day

We hope you enjoyed our brief explanations about why you should not leave your guitar in some places, and that you will play every day from now on. Remember, if your guitar is not being played, it is time wasted that you can never get back. Stay focussed, and remember that your playing and practice both depend on you! Take your guitar inside!