Sometimes students will ask “Are guitar hooks safe?”
My first answer is: “I hope so, because there are eight guitars hanging right over my desk at NYC Guitar School and I sure would hate for them to fall on my head!” However, I’m not worried. In fact, there are over 200 guitars hanging on the walls of NYC Guitar Schools around the city. (I have more at home.)
Here are two reasons why you should hang guitars on your wall–and the single most important way to install guitar hangers safely.
Two Reasons Why You Should Hang Guitars On Your Wall
Keeping your guitar out encourages practice. Research shows that even a small amount of “friction” can discourage good behavior. For example, if your guitar is in a case under the bed the steps to practice are:
- Come home and somehow remember to practice (there is no visual cue to play.)
- Get your guitar case out from under your bed.
- Take your guitar out of the case.
But if your guitar is hanging on the wall, the steps are:
- See the guitar.
- Grab it and practice.
This small change can make a big difference in your practice time. (For more on this idea of “Priming The Environment” check out THIS BLOG POST by James Clear.)
Your guitar is beautiful wall art that also proclaims and strengthens your identity as a guitarist. Even an entry level laminate topped guitar is beautiful and evokes music and emotion. And by displaying your guitar, you are making a public commitment to your identity as a guitarist–and that also will encourage you to practice!
The Single Most Important Installation Point: Use Anchors
Most guitar hooks are designed so that the weight of the guitar pushes back into the wall, not just straight down…but you still need to make sure that the guitar hook is well anchored. How? Don’t just nail the guitar hook to the wall–those nails are very likely to pull out of the wall over time! Instead, use screws and (unless you’re screwing into solid wood) use anchors.
Most guitar hook kits come with both screws and plastic drywall anchors–but Randy, the aerospace engineer and extremely overqualified NYC Guitar School handy guy prefers to use his own (for more details check out his video below). Either way, make sure you pre-drill a hole for the anchors, install the anchors, and then attach the guitar hanger using the screws.
This approach works great for 3/4″ drywall or even 1/2″ or plaster walls or solid walls. But if I run across thin drywall, like 1/8″ drywall, I use toggle bolt anchors which are the coolest thing ever. They are also called butterfly bolts, because they have wings that expand in the hollow space on the other side of a thin wall.**
If you’re not “handy”, drills and screws and such can be intimidating–but as I just told my daughter last night, hanging stuff on walls–not just guitars, but pictures, shelves, etc.–is one of the most common handy household tasks. As of 2019 you can buy a decent drill on the internet for $35 or rent one for $25. Borrowing one from a neighbor, relative, or your building’s super could be free!
Get That Guitar Out And Visible
You don’t have to hang up your guitar to make it accessible and visible. You can get a guitar stand, or even lean it against a wall. But I’m a big fan of hanging guitars on the wall. So…be safe, follow the directions, and check out this video from Randy:
On To Greatness,
**This brings me to a related question–why do so many people know who the star of “The Bachelor” is, but the inventor of the Toggle Bolt is not a household name? I’ll tell you why, because I just spent 15 pleasurable but fruitless minutes searching through patent records. The toggle bolt has been improved and adapted by thousands of brilliant handy people over the years–but the originator is lost to the ages, at least until a more dedicated researcher than I unveils this mighty progenitor of hanging heavy things safely on walls! And when that researcher does find out who invented the butterfly bolt, I hope that they then write and produce a mini-series based on this person’s life, so they can have the fame they deserve.
Randy, the amazing aerospace engineer who also lovingly takes care of the NYC Guitar School facilities, recommends guitar hangers by Hercules. Most NYC Guitar School guitars are hung with a brand called String Swing. Both of these brands can probably be found on your favorite local music store or online shopping portal, but here are some direct links: