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Would You Notice Signs of Woodworm in your Guitar?

Guitar players have been known to complain about a guitar being too heavy to use when standing up. While this proves to be a real nuisance to guitarists, there are certainly better solutions than allowing woodworm to eat their way through the weight from the inside. Contrary to the name, woodworm is the generic name for the larvae stage of wood boring beetles. These wood boring beetles generally emerge between April and October so it’s important for guitarists to be able to identify the signs of a woodworm infestation.

Woodworm are attracted to wood and humidity and the female beetle will look for tiny cracks in the wood to lay its eggs. When the eggs hatch, the larvae will burrow downwards into the guitar and eat their way up and down through the wood for anywhere up to five years causing significant damage.The larvae form a pupal chamber and develop into a fully grown adult beetle. The adult beetle will then eat their way out of the wood when ready to mate and begin the process all over again.

As woodworm are attracted to wood, any musical instrument made of wood is vulnerable to woodworm. Woodworm can cause significant damage through eating their way through wood in its larvae stage so it is essential that guitarists are able to spot the signs of a woodworm infestation before extensive damage can be done to the guitar.


Dead or Alive Beetles

If you find beetles, dead or alive in close proximity to the guitar or emerging from small exit holes in the guitar, thene it is almost certain the guitar is infested with woodworm. Beetles generally emerge from the exit holes during the current summer months so this is certainly a sign of woodworm to take note of. The adult beetle causes very little damage to the guitar but it may lay eggs in wood around your home where its larvae will then chew through whatever wood it can find.

Burrow Holes and Tunnels

Beetles emerge from the wood when ready to mate so there may be evidence of small exit holes in the guitar, similar to holes found in a dart board. It is possible the burrow holes are evidence of a previous infestation that is no longer active as the holes prove that at least a percentage of the beetles have left the guitar. It is plausible there is still wood boring beetles within the guitar but this can not be determined by exit holes alone.

If you notice burrow holes then it is common to also find raised “tunnels” within the wood. Raised tunnels simply show the route taken by larvae beetle as it eats its way through the guitar.


Fine powdery dust is known as “frass” would suggest there is still an active infestation. This frass is the faeces left behind by larvae beetles and is not generally the result of new beetles emerging. It is common to find frass near the burrow holes as it builds up when larvae bore through old tunnels. The frass is highly similar to moist sawdust and is a great indication that the woodworm infestation in the guitar is active.

Crumbly Edges

If signs of woodworm in the wood are ignored, the woodworm infestation will inevitably worsen over time as the number of wood boring beetles multiply. This will result in an increase in the amount of burrow holes in the guitar. An increase in burrow holes will cause the edge of the wood to appear crumbly as a result. This is caused by wear and tear from the numerous burrow holes near the edge of the guitar. Crumbly edges suggests the woodworm infestation has been ongoing for a considerable amount of time and must be immediately treated to prevent further damage to the guitar.


The greatest indication of a woodworm infestation is finding the beetles and guitarists should keep a look out for the “Common Furniture Beetle”. This type of beetle is extremely common in the U.K and is often found dead near the infested wood. This down to the fact that the “Common Furniture Beetle” is prone to die within days after mating. These beetles are small and brown in colour.

It is important to treat a woodworm infestation as soon as possible in order to minimalize damage caused to the guitar. Any evidence of a woodworm infestation in your guitar should not be ignored. It is strongly advisable to have the guitar treated immediately and to determine if the wood boring beetles have spread to other areas of your home.

By Jake Ryan of Wise Property Care

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