Guitar Humidity Control
Guitar Humidity Control | Review concerns of how humidity variations affect guitars. Recommend hydrometers, bemis humidifiers, aprilaire humidifiers and much more.
Guitar Humidity Control is the single most environmental condition that affect our fragile guitars. Symptoms include wash-boarding in the guitar top grain, fret ends protruding out slightly from edges of fingerboard and changes in string action.
Note for reviews of our best of the best guitar humidifiers refer to our page Guitar Humidifier Reviews.
Additional warnings for problems with Guitar Humidity Control is the top and or back that once had a slight camber, now has changed to flat, or worse yet, cupped inward. Changes in Neck Angle of Attack, String Buzzing and small cracks starting to develop are even worse signs of major problems on he horizon.
Even though you bought that $3,000 beautiful solid wood Acoustic Guitar from the most reputable maker and reseller, this is considered instrument abuse and will NOT be covered by warranty, nor should it.
Guitar factories and luthier workshops are very anal about keeping their humidity levels within a very tight tolerance to prevent this very thing from happening.
I felt that since Guitar Humidity Control is the single-most variable that we, the guitar owner's have the ability to control, we should get this out front right away. Let's get it solved and most of the guitar problems go away - simple as that.
The primary cause of the lack of humidity is due to the environmental controls we have for our homes or other places where the guitar will reside. Air that is forced through a gas furnace, passes over a flame and is completely dried out.
This goes for electric heat, wood burners, space heaters, electric heaters etc. This is a very unhealthy condition for both you and your instruments and you need to introduce Guitar Humidity Control into the space.
To help you analyze your humidity level, the first thing you should purchase is an accurate Hydrometer. This is one thing you should not pinch pennies on. Buy a good one, such as the Extech 445814 Stationary Hydro Thermometer.
It has an audible alarm when the humidity drops down below a pre-set level, temperature readout and large readout. Also is is easy to calibrate and is inexpensive enough that you could purchase a couple of them if you have a lot of area in your home or different areas where you have different instruments. The unit also gives out very accurate and reliable information.
Optimum relative humidity in the winter for the interior of our homes is between 45% and 50%. If your hydrometer reads less that this, immediately add moisture to the atmosphere where you store and play your stringed instruments.
There are basically 3 methods to introduce Guitar Humidity Control to your instrument.
- The first and most direct method of Guitar Humidity Control is the
in-case method, within your guitar case. There are several units out
there, but the Oasis OH1 has some very nice features that make it easier to maintain than many others, such as the polymer crystals that absorb up to 500 times their
weight in moisture and you can leave this unattended for greater
lengths of time.
Also the in-case temperature and Hydrometer gives you
accurate visible feedback on the conditions inside your case. Therefore good Guitar
The second method to introduce Guitar Humidity Control is to
get a good
room sized humidifier with accurate controls. This unit should be kept
in the same room or same general
area as your stringed instruments for most accurate humidity control. Here at Ultimate Guitar OnLine, we would recommend the Bemis Essick Air 826-800 2-speed
evaporative humidifier. Be sure to locate your
hydrometer on the opposite side of the room to get an
accurate of your room humidity.
- The third method of Guitar Humidity Control is to install a
humidifier on the return ductwork of your central forced air heating
system. Personally, I prefer the Aprilaire
400whole house humidifier. This is
a well-built unit that you hookup to a permanent water source and will
give you years of trouble-free service.
So far we only talked about humidity or lack thereof. This is the most difficult to control so I felt it be addressed up front, but another thing not to overlook is the danger that over-heating can pose to our stringed instruments. To a lesser extent be careful of excess humidity as well.
Many areas of the country can have extremely high humidity levels. The easy cure is air-conditioning. If that is not an option, be sure to invest in a good quality dehumidifier. I would recommend the DeLonghi DE400 40 Pint Dehumidifier.
This next series of concerns is not related to Guitar Humidity Control, but is equally important.
The stress of overheating can soften glue to the point that an acoustic or classical Guitar Bridge will lift or actually slide off position, making a Bridge Reset necessary. Binding can release and center glue joints for tops and backs can separate.
Be aware that there can be many areas of your guitar that are damaged by heat, but are not so easy to spot. Such things as neck glue joints, fretboard glue joint, braces for both the top and bottom and the interior top and bottom blocks. Bottom line? Do not leave your guitar in the sun or a hot car, especially in a dark colored un-insulated case
Exposure to cold is equally stressful. If you have a good case you will be OK, but follow these guidelines.
If your guitar is in a cold car overnight or for a few hours, when you come into a heated space, leave the guitar in the case to slowly warm up for at least an hour. If you exposed the cold guitar to a warm space the thermal shock will cause finish checking and cracks to form in the guitar finish.
Likewise, when shipping guitars, leave them in their cases or shipping cartons until you can be sure they have acclimated.