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Do I really need to use a guitar humidifier?

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(@katmetal)
Honorable Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 727
Topic starter  

I recently purchased an acoustic-electric, & it came with one of those Planet Waves humidifiers. It is the type that you insert between the strings, & it spreads them apart about an inch or a bit more. That in itself seems like it could not be doing the guitar a lot of good...

My mom played a Yamaha FG 300 for over 25 years, gigged heavy, kept it in less than desirable environments, basically just "used it hard". Never maintained it with a humidifier, and it never developed a problem. No warpage, cracks, etc.

So I guess my question is, are they really necessary? Judging from my mom's experience, it doesn't seem so.
How do you guys feel about this?


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(@unimogbert)
Estimable Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 174
 

Acoustics are built of thin sheets of wood. Dimensions change with moisture content in the wood. Thin, dry sheets can crack.

So the answer depends a lot on the humidity it will see.

If you live in Seattle there's no issue. High humidity and narrow temperature swings will minimize stress on the wood.

If you live in Denver where the humidity in summer can be as little as 4% outside and then you air-condition indoors and further reduce humidity, it has the possibility of drying too much. And then there's winter where it can be 0F outside and the furnace heats the house to 65 or 70 F and can dry the air to 5% (unless there's a humidifier).

Surf the web for some guitar repair stories showing dry wood and the consequences.

I'm in Colorado. My $100 Epi doesn't get much attention. My $2000 Gibson gets a lot.
I can even tell that the tuning of the Gibby changes if I've recently recharged the humidifier (the wood "relaxes")

Your guitar. Your choice.

Unimogbert
(indeterminate, er, intermediate fingerstyle acoustic)


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(@ksac32)
Reputable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 366
 

That depends does your guitar have a wet cough or a dry cough?--lol :)

http://www.soundclick.com/kensacco
http://www.soundclick.com/thetools


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(@katmetal)
Honorable Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 727
Topic starter  

That depends does your guitar have a wet cough or a dry cough?-

There's one in every crowd! :D

Actually, here where I live in PA, it is a fairly humid area, so I guess that would account for why my mom's guitar never developed any problems. Funny thing is, in all the years that I have performed all over the place, I have never encountered a person that used one. At least, not that I am aware of.


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(@dogbite)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 6353
 

humidify the room in winter when the relative humidity is below 40%.
keeping the guitar in the case when not in use is best. keep the guitar away from sunlight, heat sources and extreme temperatures and temperature swings. your guitar will last a long time that way.

the wet the sponge thingys that go inside the guitar freak me out.

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=644552
http://www.soundclick.com/couleerockinvaders


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(@rparker)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5492
 

humidify the room in winter when the relative humidity is below 40%.
keeping the guitar in the case when not in use is best. keep the guitar away from sunlight, heat sources and extreme temperatures and temperature swings. your guitar will last a long time that way.

the wet the sponge thingys that go inside the guitar freak me out.

So, a nice case is best? Regardless of ambient humidity? I guess my question is, how much moisture can get into the case, past the frizzies and to the actual wood?

I'm with you. My brother in law uses one of those spnge thingies, but I can't get past the whole putting water in my Taylor thing.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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(@dogbite)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 6353
 

inside the case a guitar is protected from extremes. if a room is properly humidified the case is ample protection.
and yes, a guitar could dry out in a case. so it goes to reason a guitar inside a case can be kept at the right humidity.

I have seen cases that cost more than my guitar, car and house. they have an internal sensor and humidifier. the acoustics that go in them start at 35000$. McPherson Guitars. I have toured the factory.

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=644552
http://www.soundclick.com/couleerockinvaders


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(@nicktorres)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 5468
 

I use one in the winter for my Collings, Breedlove and Fylde if the humidity drops into the single digits.


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(@coloradofenderbender)
Noble Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1120
 

I use a room humidifier in my guitar room/office at home. Here in southern Colorado, the climate is desert-like and DRY! I bought a gauge that measures humidity (can't remember the name of the gauge) and my room's humidity level wa 10%! Now, it stays at 40% w/ the humidifier. BUT, when I used to live on the east coast of the USA, I never needed one. Unless you live in a really dry area (like the southwest USA), humidity should not be a big problem.


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(@unimogbert)
Estimable Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 174
 

I use a room humidifier in my guitar room/office at home. Here in southern Colorado, the climate is desert-like and DRY! I bought a gauge that measures humidity (can't remember the name of the gauge) and my room's humidity level wa 10%! Now, it stays at 40% w/ the humidifier. BUT, when I used to live on the east coast of the USA, I never needed one. Unless you live in a really dry area (like the southwest USA), humidity should not be a big problem.

Need to be careful about equating (outside) climate information with (inside) climate expectations.

For instance, Maine seacoast can be really humid in summer. And the temp is nice enough that no air conditioning is used. So the indoor humidity is fine in summer.
But in winter the outside temp might be 0F which, when warmed to 70F by your furnace, will create single digit humidity indoors unless humidity is deliberately added.

You pretty much just need to tune in to the issue of what the humidity is doing where you keep your guitar.
If your lips crack and you get nose bleeds overnight and the guitar is in the same room where you sleep, the humidity is too low and your guitar is suffering.

That's a too- rough way to measure so having a humidity gage ('hygrometer") can help. Often these gages are included on the el-cheapo office desk sets that have thermometer, barometer, and hygrometer on the same plank. I'm sure everyone will have one received as a gift from some relative someday :-)

(Sorry for the lecture. Pilot and Engineer training is hard to keep in check when weather topics arise ....)

Unimogbert
(indeterminate, er, intermediate fingerstyle acoustic)


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(@clideguitar)
Reputable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 376
 

humidify the room in winter when the relative humidity is below 40%.
keeping the guitar in the case when not in use is best. keep the guitar away from sunlight, heat sources and extreme temperatures and temperature swings. the wet the sponge thingys that go inside the guitar freak me out.

I live near Philadelphia, I agree, keeping it in the case will prevent most of the damage. However, when I bought my Taylor 314-CE (Grand Auditorium) , (what a name - huh!), I use the humidifier. A different kind (I've used the Planet Wave one your talking about also) but I can tell, it stays in tune better, sounds better, etc!

Why chance it? It only takes a minute or 2 every couple of weeks or once a week! Don't think of it as a wet sponge, it should only be DAMP, then it releases the humidity slowly. Oh, putting it between the strings will not hurt the guitar at all!

Bob Jessie


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(@ryler)
Active Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 5
 

I second the advice to research on-line the potential damage of a dry guitar. It can get ugly. Was that Yamaha you mentioned laminate? HPL withstands humidity fluctuations much better than solid tonewood. I live in Massachusetts. It can be raining outside, but with the heat on indoors, the hygrometer may read 2%, so the outside conditions do not necessarily reflect the inside.

I use an Oasis humidifier between the strings. Love it. I also put a homemade damp sponge in a sandwich baggie cut with a hole puncher to release humidity in the case up near the headstock. That one dries up much faster than the Oasis, so requires more attention to be useful. What I like about the Oasis is that you can see when it is due to have water added to it, which is about every couple weeks. It has never leaked and gives me peace of mind that I'm not going to create water damage because of its design. Damp Its in the soundhole make me nervous. Probably unnecessarily so, but still.

I would not risk damage to a solid wood guitar by not humidifying. I do leave my Takamine (HPL sides and back, spruce top) out on the stand no matter what the conditions, because it's just not my cherished guitar. But the Larrivee, naw, I love that one. I'm going to take care of it.


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(@desinet1)
Active Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 10
 

A very important aspect is the consideration of the atmosphere in which you are playing the guitar. Is it humid?

Vintage Guitars


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(@ryler)
Active Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 5
 

Well, yes, you don't humidify without knowing your humidity levels, hence the hyrgrometer. Where I live, we're marching toward the season where overhumidification is the more likely scenario. I don't worry about that one as much, but I do know people who have suffered damage from that end of the spectrum. Rectified with time spent in the case with dessicants added. This past week my indoor rh has hovered at a perfect 45%. Just lovely.

Maybe we all need composite acoustics so we don't need to think about it!


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(@causnorign)
Honorable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 559
 

I live on Long Island, NY. Its considered a humid climate but I've had a problem with one of my guitars in the winter due to dryness. So now I use in the case humidifiers, and also those snakelike things that go between the strings.


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