Humidity changes can affect our human body, our possessions, and yes, also our musical instruments. Specifically, for our guitars, too much moisture or too much dryness will affect its material and unfortunately would lead to damage.
And except for experts, not a lot of guitarists are as conscious about humidity problems with their instruments in general so we have to change that. No matter how many electric or acoustic guitars you own, you need to find a way to protect them at all times.
Storing your instruments in rooms with the right temperature and perfect humidity level is one way that it will last for a very long time. So here are tips on how to humidify a guitar.
Things you need to know about humidity
Pretty much humidity is equivalent to the moisture that is in the surrounding air and as we all know, moisture is not good for a musical instrument. Take your body, for example, too much humidity in the air coupled with high temperatures may disrupt your body’s ability to cool down so that’s actually pretty dangerous. You’ll be at risk of heatstroke.
On the other hand, too low humidity will cause your body to dry up causing cracks on your skin, lips, and may lead to itching and throat and nose problems. See, too much or too low of it isn’t good at all. So, the key here is balanced humidity levels. And that also applies to your guitar.
So, knowing the climate in your region is key to knowing how you should take care of your body as that is pretty much the same as taking care of your instruments, specifically your guitar. Humidity should be low in the winter or cold seasons and high during the hot and summer seasons. So take good care of your guitars accordingly. More tips are below!
What are the Symptoms of a dry guitar?
For musical instruments, we have what we call relative humidity to measure things for your guitar. Now, what is considered high or low humidity here? Well, some would say that 40 to 60 relative humidity is the sweet spot for your guitars. If you can achieve a humidity level of 50 percent then that should be much better.
So what happens if you go below 40 or above 60? Well, if there’s too low humidity for your guitar then you might notice the bridge area sink in low causing your strings to almost touch the fretboard. Now, this would lead to poor tone and buzzing and muting of the notes.
The worst case scenario is that the bridge may completely fly off detaching from the guitar body and you’ll have a fully ruined guitar by that time that may be beyond any repair. Some other symptoms if your guitar gets too dry are that like your skin or lips it might also exhibit wood cracking, fret sprout or protruding fret ends, top sinking, and other damage to your guitar. So be wary of that.
What happens if there’s too much humidity for your guitar?
So what about the opposite? What happens if your guitar is exposed to constant plus 60 relative humidity? Well, you’ll notice that the top of the body of your guitar starts bloating, your string action will be higher than usual and a setup might be in order, and worst, you’ll see mold buildups.
So, before we use guitar humidifiers, how do we accurately check the humidity in the first place? Lucky for us, a lot of musical instrument manufacturers have also made tools such as a hygro-thermometer.
They are usually mini-devices that you can just keep anywhere near your guitar, maybe in your studio or even inside the guitar case/gig bag and some may have an alarm on them to inform you if the humidity level is either getting too low or too high. Then, you can address the humidity problem that you are constantly having to save your guitar before it’s too late.
Are guitar humidifiers necessary?
Yes, guitar humidifiers are necessary especially if you live in a place where it can get too hot or too cold throughout the year. Also, if you don’t have a proper place to really store your guitars and gears and if you can’t afford a humidifier (or don’t want it for some reason) or maybe even an appliance such as an air-conditioner to regulate room temperature.
Guitar humidifiers are also essential if you travel a lot with your guitars. So, what are guitar humidifiers and what do they do exactly?
Now, for acoustic guitars, there are mini-humidifiers that you can fill with distilled water and put inside the sound hole of your guitar. Once you put it inside the case then it would have a chamber with proper humidity. Right now you may be asking, water? Really?
Yes, those devices are pretty safe to utilize. But, if you don’t want to deal with water then you can go for a humidifier that instead of filling it with water, it’s got a sponge inside of it to take care of your guitar’s humidity. They are pretty easy to use with straightforward instructions.
How to humidify your guitar
All right, there are basically 3 types of guitar humidifiers available e.g., sound hole humidifiers, guitar case humidifiers, and room humidifiers that you may choose from for humidity control.
First is the soundhole humidifier like the Oasis Guitar Humidifier for acoustic guitar. It’s pretty straightforward to use, you just need to let it sit on your guitar’s sound hole. These types of guitar humidifiers usually come with a rubber tube that would sit on your strings and then run inside your guitar to hold moisture level at a certain point for an adverse environment.
You may use this type of humidifier for acoustic and hollow-bodied guitars.
Then you may consider a guitar case humidifier. These types of guitar humidifier like the Oasis Case Humidifier, D’Addario two way Humidification System, and the Planet Waves Humidifier are perfect if the humidifier available to you won’t fit on your guitar’s soundhole or if you don’t want it inside your guitar for safety reasons, you know, because of the potential dripping.
It’s also pretty straightforward to use, as the name implies, you just have to fit it in your guitar case. This can now be used for electric and bass guitars too.
Now, the last type of guitar humidifier that you may get is a full room humidifier. This one is perfect if you have an entire room of musical instruments. Again, have the room at 40 to 45 percent humidity and the temperature at 70 to 75 degrees F for best results. It would also help if you keep the door closed at all times.
Storing your guitar whether for the short or long term is something that you should pay close attention to if you want your instrument to last a long time. Now, this also applies if you’re traveling with it. Check our full guide on how to store a guitar properly. No matter the storage option you choose be sure to employ a good quality guitar humidifier.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to humidify a guitar without a case?
It’s simple, all you need to do is to purchase a room humidifier. These are inexpensive devices that can balance the humidity levels in an area of your house. So it’s not only the instruments that are going to benefit from it but also your body.
Hot or cold, wet or dry, tropical or four seasons, people play the guitar or music all around the world. So we must know how to deal with humidity for our instruments so we can help them last longer.
After all, musical instruments are not cheap, so we need to take care of our investment. Storing your guitars in the right areas of your home with proper casing or racks is necessary. And most of all, we need to make sure that the temperature is kept in check so our guitars won’t suffer and won’t break down on us prematurely.
Always remember, real guitarists, take care of their instrument the right way.