Humidity questions

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
Lsulit
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Humidity questions

Post by Lsulit » Sat Nov 04, 2017 2:37 pm

Hello,

I live in dry, dry Arizona where humidity can drop way low relative to what a guitar likes to thrive. I have had a couple of guitars be affected just by me leaving it out overnight sometimes. A local luthier once told me a player had his guitar crack being outside during a gig once. It's my understanding that extreme changes in humidity can affect the guitar....which leads me to my questions.

Does keeping my guitar in a humidified case with Boveda packs/soundhole humidifiers monitored by hygrometer and then pulling them out to play in a very dry environment for a few hours put my guitar at risk? (Due to the significant drop in humidity?)
Should I "prehumidify" my room with a room humidifier?
Am I being a hypochondriac?

Thanks for any input.

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Michael.N.
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Re: Humidity questions

Post by Michael.N. » Sat Nov 04, 2017 3:03 pm

The parts that are in danger are the thin sectioned timbers such as the soundboard and the back. Being thin means that they react to humidity changes relatively quickly. If you can introduce humidity into the whole room then that is the ideal solution. Don't forget that the smaller the room, the more air tight it is, the easier it will be to control the humidity. Failing that take it out of the case and play it for an hour or so before placing it back into the case with the humidifier. That's assuming that the guitar was built in respect of an average humidity of 45% RH. If it was built for a much lower humidity then you may not need to do anything.
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Lsulit
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Re: Humidity questions

Post by Lsulit » Sat Nov 04, 2017 4:17 pm

Michael.N. wrote:
Sat Nov 04, 2017 3:03 pm
The parts that are in danger are the thin sectioned timbers such as the soundboard and the back. Being thin means that they react to humidity changes relatively quickly. If you can introduce humidity into the whole room then that is the ideal solution. Don't forget that the smaller the room, the more air tight it is, the easier it will be to control the humidity. Failing that take it out of the case and play it for an hour or so before placing it back into the case with the humidifier. That's assuming that the guitar was built in respect of an average humidity of 45% RH. If it was built for a much lower humidity then you may not need to do anything.
Thank you Michael...at least I know that I'm not completely off base and going crazy. Most of our rooms are "open" concept, so no doors, etc. This will make effective humidification a challenge. Maybe I'll just play in a closet :wink:

albert-canuck
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Re: Humidity questions

Post by albert-canuck » Sat Nov 04, 2017 4:41 pm

My house is open concept as well as it is an old store that was converted into a residence. I have a few large aquariums in the house that keeps the rh close to 50% year round. It gets quite dry up here in Canada in the winter as it gets kind of cold sometimes (-40). Right now it is at 45% on my Vantage Vue weather station. All the guitars are in the open on my newly made guitar stand and look alright (no fret ends sticking out or other signs).

When I first got my Ramirez 1a 10 string a few weeks ago the top behind the saddle was wavy. You could not only feel it but see it, three humps an inch wide extending from the saddle to the bottom edge of the guitar. I tightened the strings part way for a few days then brought the tension up and within a week the top had smoothed out and luckily no cracks. The guitar came from Texas and I can only assume that the humidity was much lower there than in my home.

The solution for me are the large aquariums to humidify my house but I realize that most people would not want them taking up the space.
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astro64
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Re: Humidity questions

Post by astro64 » Sat Nov 04, 2017 4:55 pm

I live in the southwest and use a room humidifier to keep my study at 50%. Playing a the guitar for a few hours in a different place in the home is not a problem, but keeping it out overnight could be too long, I think. Also, playing it outside would be risky, because humidity outside can drop to below 10%. An in-case humidifier might be sufficient if you pay attention to it frequently and not forget about it. Also, keep the case closed when the guitar is out so that the humidity inside the case doesn't drop quickly. It could take a while to get it back up everywhere inside the case. And keep case and guitar away from the air vents from the heating system in the winter.

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Rick Beauregard
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Re: Humidity questions

Post by Rick Beauregard » Sat Nov 04, 2017 5:24 pm

This is a great question I never thought of before. Basically, is it worse to keep a guitar in a humidified case and take it out into a dry room to play and receive the shock of low RH? Or would it be better to leave it out in a humidified room where it can acclimate to the environment over time. It is hard to get the entire poorly sealed room high enough when the RH dips down.
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Kent
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Re: Humidity questions

Post by Kent » Sat Nov 04, 2017 6:13 pm

If you always pop the guitar into it's humidified case when it's not in your hands, you should never have a problem.

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Eberhard Mueller
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Re: Humidity questions

Post by Eberhard Mueller » Sat Nov 04, 2017 6:49 pm

I worry about the humidity issue as much as anyone who loves his guitars. I lived on the dry prairies with a long heating season. Even then, I never had an instrument damaged by low humidity. The furnace had an inefficient humidifier attached which crusted up very quickly from the minerals in the water. The house humidity in winter could not possibly have been suitable for solid wood guitars. However, at that time, I kept a damp-it in the guitar body and that seemed sufficient. I certainly played for an hour or two at a stretch, and removed the damp-it for the duration, but the instrument went right back into the case, the moment I was done, even if just for a bathroom break. When finished, the damp-it was refreshed (not so wet as to drip) and the guitar went back into the case for the night. Yes, I was anxious about possible damage, but no such thing ever occurred. However, the nature of the guitar's built and conditions under which they were built may play a factor. At that time, I mainly played instruments built in Japan, such as Sakurai and Kohno. Also, my teacher had a Ramirez 1a, which received similar care, and he had no problem with damage.

Presently, I do live in coastal climate with, thankfully, short heating season and no home humidification. For most of the year, RH in the home is between 45 and 60. My guitars were built under similar RH in a shop on the coast. Yet, it is scary how fast the humidity drops when the furnace runs for a few days, as it is doing now. During this snap of sub-zero, the RH as dropped to 35 already and, if prolonged, it will easily go into the 20's. Contemplating this anxious moment, I prepared and installed my home-made case humidifiers. (This is a simple device of medicine vial with perforated lid; damp sponge inside; and attached in the case interior with velcro.)

I do play for an hour or two and then store the guitars in the case. The cases I'm using now seal tightly, so I become equally concerned that the humidity in the case might become too high. There's nothing one can do about worry! :?
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Lsulit
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Re: Humidity questions

Post by Lsulit » Sat Nov 04, 2017 8:06 pm

Thank you everyone for your input! I'm probably overthinking things but good to know others out there that are pretty knowledgeable.

Philosopherguy
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Re: Humidity questions

Post by Philosopherguy » Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:24 pm

As for the original question: I doubt a guitar would dry out enough in the span of a few hours at a gig to really lose THAT much moisture unless it's outrageously uncomfortable dry (or you are playing under the hot sun or a heat lamp in the outrageously dry weather). Even then, I'm not sure. Put it this way, if you put a guitar in a humidified bag to re-humidify it after letting it dry, it takes quite a while for the wood to soak up all the moisture. I would assume that the reverse is also the same. Otherwise, we could cut wet wood and have it dry within a few hours and be ready to use. I doubt wood gives up moisture that quickly. Then again, I have never tested it. So, just my opinion. Leaving a guitar out all night might be a little long for some guitars, depending on where/how they were made. I start to humidify around 35% RH. I like my guitars on the dry side. 60% RH can make some guitars sound muddy. I have never had a guitar crack or the frets protrude due to dryness.

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satanikoskioftes
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Re: Humidity questions

Post by satanikoskioftes » Tue Nov 07, 2017 9:17 am

Put a bucket of water in the room. It worked for me :P

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Charles Mokotoff
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Re: Humidity questions

Post by Charles Mokotoff » Tue Nov 07, 2017 11:19 am

I asked this same question before:
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=107791
Since I already own the humidifier, I use it when RH is below 40% and I have the guitar out, probably not necessary and it seems the only way to find out is to not do it and see if the guitars show dryness.

simonm
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Re: Humidity questions

Post by simonm » Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:22 pm

Charles Mokotoff wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 11:19 am
…. probably not necessary and it seems the only way to find out is to not do it and see if the guitars show dryness.
It is one of those great risk questions. You could probably test people's risk adverseness this way. Unfortunately the way a guitar shows dryness due to low humidity, especially the sudden drops in the winter, is in the way of "things that go bang in the night". :-) Next morning you find the bang was actually to the top of your most expensive guitar cracking open.

Zen
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Re: Humidity questions

Post by Zen » Sat Nov 11, 2017 11:23 pm

Lsulit wrote:
Sat Nov 04, 2017 8:06 pm
Thank you everyone for your input! I'm probably overthinking things but good to know others out there that are pretty knowledgeable.
I don’t think you’re overthinking this...
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