how to dispose of an old broken guitar

How To Dispose Of An Old Broken Guitar: Recycling Old Guitars

The life of a guitar can go on even after it has served its intended purpose. A stringed instrument is a complex device and it is important to know how to responsibly dispose or recycle an old broken guitar.

A totally damaged guitar is a sad sight to see for every guitar lover, for one can imagine the efforts put into its creation. Whether it’s an old ax that has seen decades of musical evolution, or a new one that got broken in a nasty fall, the first thought that will come to a musician is the desire to resurrect the instrument.

There are guitars that are impossible to bring back, at least to a playable degree. But even those seemingly hopeless instruments can still find a place in workshops of artisans from other disciplines, eventually emerging as decorative, as well as functional pieces of art.

How to Dispose of old guitars

Do your research first

An aging instrument that is slowly deteriorating can still be saved, while a guitar that looks as if it were pulled from a wreckage, will probably end up as ornamentation. Nevertheless, it is important to determine the model and the history of the guitar, since an instrument’s status and cultural significance could affect its value.

You are lucky if you inherited a much sought-after vintage guitar, for it could fetch unbelievable prices. This may not be the case however, if the instrument seems impossible to refurbish. Unless it’s the guitar that Pete Townshend shattered into bits, then there is a chance that you’ll draw the interest of some cash-strapped, crazed The Who fanatic.

Don’t send it to the junkyard yet

A junkyard should not be the first destination for an old gitar, especially if it still looks intact. The instrument might look awfully beat up but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be used again. If you are a guitarist, chances are, you have already thought of giving the instrument a new lease on life.

However, if you just found one lying in your basement, and don’t have the time to have it overhauled – much less, learn a chord or two – then seek the advice of luthiers, musicians and second hand instrument shops before disposing or recycling the old broken guitar.

Talk to guitar experts

For most luthiers, an old guitar, even a wrecked one, is an enticing challenge that can yield rewarding results. A budding guitar builder can test his skills on the most severe of cases, while a master craftsman can use one in his hands-on repair classes. 

Take the guitar to your local workshop and ask for advice on whether it is an instrument worth saving. They might also be interested in buying the guitar or its parts from you.

Save the usable parts

Guitars look deceivingly simple in structure, but they are actually made up of many parts. Check thoroughly to see if your instrument’s pieces are still functional and carefully remove them to prevent any further damage. 

Tuning pegs, knobs, pre-amp, pickups, pickguards, strap buttons, even the cavity covers and screws must be set aside if they are still in good working condition. Players and builders are always in need of these parts and new ones could get expensive or difficult to obtain. 

Instead of immediately disposing or recycling the old broken guitar, you can put the guitar parts to good use by offering musicians and luthiers a much cheaper alternative. 

Upcycling/recycling

Our planet is being filled with rubbish every second and adhering to waste reduction practices is becoming a standard for various industries. Music is no exception as luthiers advocate using wood from sustainable tree farms while continuing to build more durable instruments that will last for a long time.

Through the years, recycling and upcycling were among the popular remedies against modern society’s excesses. The two terms are not actually interchangeable since recycling requires the obliteration of waste and using it to create something new, while upcycling involves repurposing something without altering its current state.

Due to the guitar’s aesthetic appeal and cultural influence, it isn’t uncommon to see mixed media art pieces being adorned with a broken guitar neck or a guitar top. There are even instances when old guitars were given new functions, reincarnated once again to help improve the world that we live in.

The ideas in reusing a guitar are limitless. With the right amount of creativity, you can turn your instrument into these:

  • Bird house
  • Book shelf
  • Coat hanger
  • Coffee table
  • Diorama
  • Flower box
  • Lampshade stand
  • Planter
  • Speakerbox
  • Wall art
  • Wall clock
  • Wine rack

Donate the guitar

Instead of throwing away a retired ax, you can donate it to anyone who would be interested in repairing or repurposing the instrument. A guitar requires effort and knowledge to fix or upcycle, so you may want to save your time and resources by giving it for free to someone who could benefit from it.

Reminders for responsible guitar junk disposal and recycling

Electronics

Along with amplifiers and speakers, the pickups, preamps and even circuit boards, are better off getting upcycled or recycled. If there are zero chances of bringing them back to working condition, dumping electronic devices, along with batteries and wiring into landfills, can make the soil toxic.

Metal parts

Although the strings, bridge and truss rod of a guitar will corrode in time, the best way to dispose of metal parts is to have them recycled. 

Not only will you be rewarded with monetary incentives offered by some recycling programs, you will also help prevent supply shortages in metal, which plays a huge role in our everyday lives.

Wood

Disposing or recycling an old broken guitar means saying goodbye to the wood, which we know is the body and soul of the instrument. Burning wood, paint and lacquer is not good for your health and the environment, reusing is the best option.

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