Serious Displays for Serious Collectors
I have had a home studio for years and, while I love my studio tools, my real passion is for my instrument collection. Like many PG readers, I have a great collection of old gear. Not quite enough to satisfy my thirst, but more than my wife thinks I need. Over the years, my main problem has been space. Most of my guitars, keyboards, drums, etc. were in cases in a spare bedroom, in the garage and up in the attic – a few were even in my mother’s basement. What a shame. I can still remember the excitement of taking each one home and playing it for a few months before sending it to its molded plastic jail cell. The fact is, I don’t have a lot of space, but I want to have my instruments out where they can be easily played, as well as admired by friends.
Stands really didn’t do the trick because they only hold a few things at once, and they also didn’t solve my other concern: keeping the instruments out of reach of children, pets and the vacuum cleaner. The logical next step was to get some wall hangers. I had used one of these in college and it did a great job of keeping my cedar top Yairi from ending up like the one in Animal House. Unfortunately, guitar wall hangers didn’t fully fix my problem. For a wall hanger to get a solid grip, you should attach it to a wall stud. In my current studio, the longest wall is 12’ long and has six accessible studs (they are usually 16” apart). So, on that wall I have room for six guitars or four keyboards with very little flexibility in where they can hang.
One day I realized the solution I was looking for was in every music store I had ever visited. Go to any music retailer and you’ll find wall guitar hangers and keyboard mounts all over the store mounted to strips of wallboard called Slatwall. These hangers are usually not for sale; they are quietly sitting in the background displaying products. But the hangers are actually easy to get and can be special-ordered by your favorite retailer.
So where do you find the actual Slatwall? Just about any lumberyard or home improvement center can order it for you – I even found some local dealers who have it in stock. If you live in a larger city you might even have a store that specializes in retail fixtures. You can get Slatwall in different colors, finishes, thicknesses and with metal reinforcement. If you collect basses, have several pricey Les Pauls, or if you want to display keyboards and drum machines, then I suggest you get the thick, metal-reinforced kind. Most panels come with a sticker on the back that shows the maximum weight capacity. Slatwall comes in 4’ x 8’ sheets like plywood and can easily be cut to fit. Be careful of look-alike products like pegboard, Gladiator and Garageworks. These appear similar, but instrument hangers won’t hold tight to them and will easily fall off.
In my search, I discovered lots of interesting accessories for Slatwall. I found hangers for my bongo drums, keyboards, effect pedals, various tools, and even a dummy head to hang my headphones on. There are mic holders, cable hangers, drum machine shelves and many more that can take advantage of every square foot of wall space. Fender makes a “surfboard” guitar holder, guitarideas.net has lots of different colored wood hangers and Off The Wall makes metal hangers for those of you with more modern tastes.
These days my studio is neater and I have more instruments on display, with most of them out of reach of pets and kids. It looks great, didn’t cost very much and my mother was very happy to get those instruments out of her basement!
Brendan Murphy has been a live sound and recording engineer for nearly twenty years. He has an extensive collection of modern and vintage instruments of all kinds. Reach him at (800) 222 4700 ext. 1287, or firstname.lastname@example.org.