Can Sunlight Damage a Guitar?

We all have a nice setting for playing our guitars. 

For some it might be just by the window, enjoying the breeze and view outside while playing our favorite tunes. 

After playing the guitar, a lot of us would leave the guitar there, exposed to outside weather and that can be damaging.

Guitars being exposed to sunlight for a long time can cause some damage to the painting. Chances are that the paint will turn the fade if the makers didn’t use an ultraviolet raw protective layer. Mid to low range guitars generally don’t have the layer as it makes the guitar more expensive.

Most guitars aren’t impacted too much by receiving direct sunlight. 

However, if the sunlight is coupled with overheating or even exposure to a lot of moisture then it can impact the warp of the guitar neck

Anytime the heat goes beyond 95°F or 35°C you should be worrying.

Whenever a guitar is exposed to sunlight, chances are high that it can get in touch with moisture as well. 

Excessive moisture (or the opposite, dryness) can cause significant damage to the wood and overall structure of the guitar. 

How can sunlight damage a guitar?

We love the way our guitar looks and it’d bum us out a lot if its color just faded away. 

That’s why we should always avoid putting guitars under direct sunlight. Sunlight has a direct impact on the color of the guitar. 

There are a few factors in play. Different kinds of wood and finishes react slightly differently to sunlight. For most, the color fades over a long period.

If there is no ultraviolet protection layer on the guitar then the fading will happen a lot faster. 

Sunlight also means that the guitar is exposed to direct heat and other environmental factors. It can expedite the process of oxidation a lot. Moisture can also cause severe damage. 

Why is guitar paint sensitive to sunlight?

The impact on the paint can vary a lot from guitar to guitar. Fender acoustic guitar paints have shown signs of being darkened while exposed to a lot of sunlight over a lengthy period. 

In general, the finish of the guitar tends to become a fade yellow or darken depending upon the wood, finish type, and overall condition. 

Wood oxidizes over some time anyway and even with a finish, it is never 100% protected. UV protective layer helps reduce the impact.

Beware: Direct sunlight might also mean heat

Being exposed to sunlight means being exposed to heat, moisture & UV rays. Direct heat is never really good for your guitar. 

As a guitar is made of wood and then some metal parts & bolts, heat has a direct impact on everything in a guitar. 

The impact is severe on acoustic guitars. Glues can come off the guitar if it is kept at a temperature of more than 40°C for a long time. Bridges and necks suffer a lot too in the process.

Bridges can even fall off the heat is too much. It becomes significantly harder to press strings down and playing on an acoustic becomes much harder. 

The finish of the guitar is always impacted by the heat. Bear in mind that, this finish keeps the wood away from cracking. So any sustained damage to the finish increases the likelihood of neck warping.

How can you prevent sunlight or heat from damaging your guitar

Keeping your guitar nice and protected is a major part of making sure that your favorite instrument doesn’t get damaged in any way.

If your house has any major source of heat like a radiator or heater, your guitar should be as far away from them as possible. 

If your windows don’t have UV layer protection, make sure your guitar isn’t staying close to your windows for a long amount of time. 

The best way to preserve a guitar is always to keep it inside the guitar case. In that way, you protect the guitar from any outside impact like heating, moisture or sunlight, etc. 

You can even put a humidifier inside the case to make sure everything is kept in balance. 

To prevent damage, it is possibly best to avoid hanging your guitar in long term as well. 

The chances of a bruise or even fall from height thus significant damage is much higher if you keep your guitar hanging for a long time. 

Can you do something if your guitar is already damaged by sunlight?

If the damage is only on the color end, you will just have to repaint it or get used to the faded color. 

Most woods darken over a while anyway and if you don’t do anything, the color will automatically adjust itself. You can always recolor if you want to.

The damage can be more severe. If there is a small crack or glues have come off, you can even try to repair it by yourself.

There are a lot of glues out there in the market now that you can use like Titebond or Gorilla glue. You can even use the Yellow Carpenter’s glue, the one Gibson uses now. 

For any major damage on the neck or any cracking of the wood, it is suggested to take professional help. 

As major cracks might require some work on the wood/neck and take a longer time to recover.

We, guitar players, tend to take care more care of our guitars than even ourselves. But being a bit casual and leaving the guitar by the window for a length of time can cause major damage to our precious commodity. 

Easy to avoid solutions already mentioned to avoid such situations.