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Tech: guitar humidifiers

mkebenn 12 Dec 16 - 08:29 AM
Stanron 12 Dec 16 - 09:00 AM
Backwoodsman 12 Dec 16 - 11:03 AM
Mark Clark 12 Dec 16 - 11:32 AM
GUEST,Guest - Roger Knowles 12 Dec 16 - 03:05 PM
mkebenn 13 Dec 16 - 10:08 AM
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Subject: Tech: guitar humidifiers
From: mkebenn
Date: 12 Dec 16 - 08:29 AM

To prove how little I've learned in 50yrs of giutitude, how important are humidifiers, and if they haven't been present, could they do harm to a 45yr old steel string at this time?I live in western New York and have base board heat. Any info would be appriciated. Mike(here is where I used to eagerly await Mr. Fielding's advice)


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar humidifiers
From: Stanron
Date: 12 Dec 16 - 09:00 AM

Large parts of the US are desert. In such regions humidity can drop to very low levels. It's these low levels of humidity which can damage the wood in guitars. I don't think New York is such a place, but who knows where the guitar has been.

Signs of de-humidification can be fret ends protuding from the sides of an unbound fretboard and open cracks in the front or back.

Re-humidifying can be as simple as putting a water soaked sponge in the bottom of a large bin liner, tying the top of the bag around the top of the guitar neck, ideally with the bottom of the guitar not touching the sponge. Hand this up somewhere safe for three ot four days.

There are DIY designs for small humidifiers to keep in a guitar case online.


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar humidifiers
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 12 Dec 16 - 11:03 AM

With the CH on in winter, the RH in my house is around 35%. This was low enough to cause drying problems in my old Martin J-40 which lived out on a stand, the fret-ends began to feel sharp and the top went flat to a point where the action was so low it was virtually unplayable.

I put it in its case with two home-made humidifiers (dampened sponges in baggies which I'd punched a couple of dozen holes in with a paper-punch. I put one up by the headstock and the other inside the guitar. I checked them, and re-moistened them every three or four days. Took about three to four weeks to get the guitar back to where it should be.

I work on the 'once bitten, twice shy' principle now - all my guitars and mandolin live in their cases, with case-hygrometers in there. Once the RH hits 40%, in go the humidifiers - I have Oasis humidifiers now, but I'd be happy to use the 'sponge in a baggie' type if the Oasis ones gave up the ghost.


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar humidifiers
From: Mark Clark
Date: 12 Dec 16 - 11:32 AM

Yes, getting too dry can harm a guitar though at 45 years without damage, I wouldn't be too concerned. Conscientious humidification is most important when a guitar is new. The wood in a new instrument will still have an optimum moisture content from the maker. If it dries too quickly, damage may occur. Of course if your guitar had been humidified since it was new, sudden drying might still damage it. As it is, humidification or lack thereof will affect its playability from season to season but otherwise you're probably OK.

Were it mine, I'd humidify. I'd try to get it "normalized" then keep it in its case with a humidifier when not being played. I keep Oasis humidifiers in all my cases the whole year around. I live in the Midwest where we run air conditioning in the summer months. That means the indoor air is dry then too. Since we play a lot of outdoor concerts in the summer time, I've found that keeping my guitars humidified cuts down on tuning issues when playing outside.

My friend and master repairman Marty Reynolds in St. Paul, MN, makes humidifiers and sells them here ==> http://mnluthier.com/merchandise.html#hbox . They are also easy to make and I think he posts the details for making your own. I made some and use them through the winter in addition to the Oasis units.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar humidifiers
From: GUEST,Guest - Roger Knowles
Date: 12 Dec 16 - 03:05 PM

Info like this is stuff I find invaluable. Great!


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Subject: RE: Tech: guitar humidifiers
From: mkebenn
Date: 13 Dec 16 - 10:08 AM

Thank you all SO much. She's ('71 Martin D-35) spent all her life within 15 miles of Lake Erie, except for a decade and a half in South Florida (they wouldn't understand the need to humidify anything there}. I've noticed nothing with the frets, but she does have some cracks beneath the bridge. I've had the bridge reset and the top braced about 15yrs ago, and have seen no change since. I understand that this type of cracking, nothing major, is not uncommen in these instruments. Thank you again for your help. Mike


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