Crucial Or Optional: Do Electric Guitars Need Humidifiers?

Do Electric Guitars Need Humidifiers

Any guitar can be a serious investment. It’s important to take good care of your instruments if you want to enjoy them for many years to come. Many people are already aware that acoustic guitars benefit greatly from the proper humidity level.

One question I often hear is, “Do I need a Humidifier for my electric guitar?” The short answer is no. The long answer is maybe.

By now you’re probably confused, so let me clarify. You will almost never need to worry about a humidifier for an electric guitar. There are exceptions to every rule, however, and in rare conditions, a humidifier may be of some benefit. Keep reading to find out ways that you can protect your guitars.

Why Does Any Guitar Need a Humidifier?

If you’ve ever been to a music store, you’ll notice that the acoustic guitars are usually in their own room. This room will be kept at the ideal humidity level and temperature to protect the instruments.

Fluctuations in humidity and temperature can wreak havoc on anything made of wood. The wood of an acoustic guitar “breathes,” and can expand or contract due to sudden changes in the environment.

In worst-case scenarios, the wood of an acoustic guitar can warp and permanently affect the sound and playability of your instrument. You may even end up with a loose bridge or cracks in the wood of the soundboard.

Too much humidity can also cause issues such as swelling and expanding of the wood, especially on the top and back of your acoustic.

According to the experts at Taylor, one of my favorite guitar manufacturers, you need a relative humidity level of 45% to 55% to protect your instrument.

Why Electric Guitars Don’t Need a Humidifier

Most electric guitars sold today have a solid-body construction. The big block of wood that is the body is less susceptible to warping due to dry air or humidity. The neck can have these issues, but in my personal experience, this can be rectified by a small tweak of the truss rod.

I normally have to make some adjustments to the setup of my electric guitars twice a year, once in the winter when the air gets drier, and once in the spring when there’s more humidity. For most players, this is just a normal part of routine maintenance.

Another issue that might take place over time is fret sprout. As the fingerboard wood dries out over time, the frets can start sticking out on the sides of the neck. This can lead to some uncomfortable playing conditions and possibly even cut-up fingers.

Again, I would consider this in the realm of normal and simply file back those fret edges. It’s something that might have to be done once or twice in the life of the instrument. A humidifier may delay this, but it will likely happen eventually anyway.

Most potential issues with an electric guitar can be avoided by simply keeping your guitar in its case. I suggest investing in a good hard-shell case, as this will offer more protection from humidity changes as well as from bumps and drops.

It’s worth mentioning here that while the effect of humidity on electric guitars is minimal under normal conditions, you should still avoid sudden and extreme changes in temperature and air moisture levels.

Electric Guitars That Do Need a Humidifier

Moisture Management for Guitars
Guitar care products for moisture control. Image: lm_burlington

There are a few exceptions where you will want to regulate the humidity where you store your electric guitars. This mostly comes down to the type of guitar that you own.

It goes without saying that an acoustic-electric is built exactly like an acoustic guitar but with the addition of one or more pickups. You will want to treat them as you would any acoustic instrument and keep the humidity level between 45% and 55%.

We’ve already discussed how most modern guitars have a solid body, but not all do. Semi-hollow and hollow body guitars are still quite popular, especially for musicians of some specific genres of music.

While an acoustic-electric is primarily an acoustic that can also be plugged into an amp, a semi-hollow or hollow electric is primarily designed to be played through an amp. The sounds they produce aren’t as reliant on body vibrations but instead are produced by pickups, an amplifier and your electric guitars effects.

If you have one of these three electric guitar types, then a humidifier may be in order. Still, I would not consider them essential for a semi-hollow body guitar so long as you live in average climate conditions and keep your guitar in a good case.

This brings me to the last situation where you might consider getting a humidifier for your electric guitars. If you live in a place with unusually dry air, like say a desert, then it might be necessary to have a humidifier to protect the wood of your electric guitar.

If it’s unusually damp where you live, you might even look into getting a de-humidifier.

Now that you’ve read through my thoughts on electric guitars and humidifiers, I’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts, experiences, or any tips you have for maintaining your beloved instrument. Join the conversation below and let’s keep the music playing beautifully together!

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About the Author

Content Writer and Founder of guitartopreview.com
Founder & Editor

Thomas M., the founder of Guitar Top Review, boasts 15+ years of guitar experience and was a church band member in L.A. Transitioning from piano to acoustic guitar, his first love remains his Taylor GS Mini. Alongside like-minded hobbyist friends, he launched the site, driven by a deep love for music that transcends professional boundaries.

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