December 25, 2013
Winter is a coming, people. Do you know what that means? It means while you're warm and cozy by the fire your guitar is sweating its ball ends off. When the heat is cranked in your home the dry air can affect your guitar in multiple ways, and its only saving grace may just be a humidifier.
It takes a long time for a piece of wood to become accustomed to its environment. As the seasons change it will expand and contract. During the wintertime wood tends to shrink. There are a couple of signs to watch out for that may indicate your guitar needs to be humidified:
1). Your frets bite back! You will notice the frets protruding from the fingerboard and are
sharper than usual. This is caused from lack of moisture and as the wood of the fingerboard shrinks, the metal does not.
2). Your neck buzzes louder than a swarm of bees! You will find the natural contour of the body has flattened and the action is lowered as a result, causing the guitar to "fret out."
Heed these warnings, as they may be a sign of things to come such as your bridge pulling, finish checking, or even worse, the top becoming concave and the seams of the body opening and cracking.
The most ideal percentage of humidity for your acoustic guitar is 45%. If you own multiple guitars a standalone unit might be more convenient, however may not be as easy on your wallet as an instrument humidifier you can refill. There are companies such as Planet Waves and Dampit that offer a simple and affordable solution.
While humidifying your guitar is a must the last thing you want to do is over humidify. A hygrometer just might come in handy in order to measure the humidity levels in your home. Depending on your location, humidity levels may increase and humidifying your guitar may not be necessary. When using a humidifier it is important that water does not drip into the instrument. Water damage can cause the wood of an instrument to swell, possibly compromising the finish and creating a haze.
Damage done by dryness can be costly. The best protection for your guitar is to store it in a safe environment such as the case with a humidifier, which has been a proven shelter from extreme weather conditions. Caring for your guitar and paying close attention to what it is telling you will better serve you and your instrument.