Country Of Origin & Home Location

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
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artdecade
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Country Of Origin & Home Location

Post by artdecade » Wed Apr 12, 2017 4:52 pm

A question for luthiers and players... Should one consider where the guitar is made in relation to where it will end up? I live in a climate (NE USA) where it is very cold and quite dry during the winter. I worry that purchasing a guitar from a locale (say NZ, for example) that is quite humid and bringing it into an environment where the wood will be truly tested to its limits. Am I thinking too deeply about this or should one look towards luthiers that build in an environment more similar to where the guitar will most likely live out its days? Thanks!
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SeanWinkler
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Re: Country Of Origin & Home Location

Post by SeanWinkler » Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:08 pm

Regardless of where the guitar was made, you should employ some kind of humidification in the winter months. Most luthiers I have met do use climate controls to maintain a relatively stable environment for seasoning wood and building. You want to try to match that if at all possible. Somewhere in the 40-50% RH range seems to be typical. I can maintain that in New England through the worst of the winter with a consumer-grade humidifier running in just one room.

If you're talking about a second-hand guitar vs. buying direct from a luthier, then you have to discuss climate control with the current owner. Do they maintain a consistent environment? I'd probably be reluctant to purchase a guitar from a very humid climate without some definitive answers about the storage and maintenance habits of the owner.
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bear
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Re: Country Of Origin & Home Location

Post by bear » Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:24 pm

I've purchased guitars from Florida, California, Colorado, all climates and altitudes. I keep them in their cases with a Planet Wavves or a medication bottle -damp sponge inside- numerous holes drilled in the bottle- string attached- placed inside the box. No problems.
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artdecade
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Re: Country Of Origin & Home Location

Post by artdecade » Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:41 pm

I maintain the humidity in my studio between 38-45 humidity. I live in a 200 year old farm house and drafts are the nature of the game. I am concerned that a guitar made in an environment where the wood is used to 70% humidity will not be able to cope where I live. Is this an unfounded concern?
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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Country Of Origin & Home Location

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Wed Apr 12, 2017 6:19 pm

Its more climate of origin that country of origin strictly speaking, since a guitar made in a humid part of the US will carry the same potential risks as one from NZ or soggy UK.

I'd suggest that in principle it matters, but that you are in practice unlikely to have any guitars dissembling themselves so long as you take basic precautions, as already described. I have only recently purchased a hygrometer and have been amazed how low the humidity has been and would say that if you are keeping to 38-45% that should be fine. I don't think many makers whose ambient climatic humidity would typically be 70% would allow that in their workshop.
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Brian McCombs
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Re: Country Of Origin & Home Location

Post by Brian McCombs » Wed Apr 12, 2017 6:41 pm

Absolutely and the concern is not unfounded.

I'm in southern Michigan and we have very similar winter weather I assume. Being surrounded by the great lakes, we get a decent amount of humidity mixed in with the heat of summer too. Many builders control the climate of their shop to some degree. Solid temperature and humidity control is a prerequisite to making a good instrument as humidity and temperature swings can cause the plates to curl/twist/cup into wild shapes simply just sitting there on the workbench. I keep my wood closet and my assembly area between 65º and 75º and 40 to 45% RH.....it is costly to do that in the winter and summer months but it is paramount to having properly acclimated wood.

I would nearly always recommend that if a person is looking for a luthier built guitar, they would do themselves a great favor by looking local first. You won't have to worry as much about environmental changes and after all, it's nice to have the ability to talk to and perhaps even visit the person who made the instrument. It also helps to facilitate any repairs or maintenance as the guitar ages.

If I lived in New Mexico I'd worry about getting a guitar from say, south Asia......even if the person/factory that made it has good control, at some point that guitar will see the local environment, it seems high risk to me. Of course there would be exceptions to the rule if you are a collector or somebody that simply has to have a certain brand/maker. In the end I'd ask the whoever you are buying the guitar from what type of environment it has been kept in. Weather or not it was controlled in any way and by what means. You can also look up the average temperature and humidity for the region that the guitar is coming from on the web and compare it to your own average....see if it is wildly different. I think it is generally accepted to be better to have a guitar come from a dry climate to a slightly wetter climate vs. the reverse. The guitar can sustain a little swelling without dramatic degradation however if you go from a wet climate to a dry one, cracks and shrinkage can occur, which is certainly worse. Not that swelling is OK but at least it isn't tied to cracks as much as shrinkage.


I too have a farm house....not quite as old as yours but maybe 120 years old....when I bought it, when the wind blew hard outside, the curtains on the inside of the house would blow around. A bit drafty as they say. :D

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bear
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Re: Country Of Origin & Home Location

Post by bear » Wed Apr 12, 2017 7:13 pm

artdecade wrote:I maintain the humidity in my studio between 38-45 humidity. I live in a 200 year old farm house and drafts are the nature of the game. I am concerned that a guitar made in an environment where the wood is used to 70% humidity will not be able to cope where I live. Is this an unfounded concern?
I also live in a 200 year old farm house in The Great Swamp. I take several days to acclimatize any guitar that comes to my home. Just a little common sense. I don't know what the humidity is and never have, don't really care. Some folks turn on the tv to see if it's raining, I look out the window.
When it's dry, I check the sponges more often. I keep them in their cases unless being played. I have them on a stand away from the heat source (That includes sun coming through the window).
Who knows what journeys, a guitar might take before it gets to you/ I once had a guitar that was built in Spain. It had a sticker on it indicating that it was sold in Chile. I got it from someone in the midwest.
2013 Jeff Medlin '37 Hauser 640mm sp
2006 Michele Della Guistina Concert 10 string 650mm ce
2005 Jose Ramirez 4E 650mm ce
2005 Manuel Rodriguez Model C3F 650mm sp
2003 Manuel Rodriguez Model D 650mm ce

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artdecade
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Re: Country Of Origin & Home Location

Post by artdecade » Thu Apr 13, 2017 5:38 pm

Thank you, everyone. Much more to digest.
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John higgon
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Re: Country Of Origin & Home Location

Post by John higgon » Fri Apr 14, 2017 12:50 pm

My guitar teacher has a Bernabe guitar built in Spain, where there is a fairly low humidity. She lives in South West Scotland, where humidity is considerably higher. Because of the high humidity, the back of her guitar has become slightly corrugated: the back has tried to expand across its width, but the sides have constrained that movement, hence the buckling. So yes, invest in a humidifier or dehumidifier, depending on your local circumstances, and a decent hygrometer. I'm not so sure whether temperature is so important, unless you live in a very extreme environment. I think this is good practice even if you have a guitar that was made locally. After all, the luthier has probably stored the wood and built the guitar in a humidity-controlled environment, i.e. not the same as the 'outside-the-workshop environment' that you and the luthier live in.

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bear
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Re: Country Of Origin & Home Location

Post by bear » Fri Apr 14, 2017 1:18 pm

I believe that proper care and attention to humidity is important, however I can't help but wonder how guitar makers like Cordoba, Yamaha, Rodriguez, Ramirez, et.al., ship guitars all over the world without regard to climate. I know that many guitar retailers just take them out of the box and put them on the shelf with no more concern than they'd give a can of peaches.
I usually take 3 days before I think my new cg has adjusted to it's new climate.
2013 Jeff Medlin '37 Hauser 640mm sp
2006 Michele Della Guistina Concert 10 string 650mm ce
2005 Jose Ramirez 4E 650mm ce
2005 Manuel Rodriguez Model C3F 650mm sp
2003 Manuel Rodriguez Model D 650mm ce

Keith
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Re: Country Of Origin & Home Location

Post by Keith » Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:38 pm

bear, I think the reason why factory guitars survive in adverse conditions is because they are overbuilt so they can survive environmental abuses as well as the clowns at GC who take picks to them. artdecade, I suspect most luthiers around the world keep their shops in the safe zone.
be true to the one you love but have many flings with different guitars

Jim Frieson
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Re: Country Of Origin & Home Location

Post by Jim Frieson » Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:12 am

If a guitar is made in a workshop without ambient RH control , then the place of origin is more important .
But if a guitar is assembled in a space where RH is controlled , the place of origin matters little ,
except that in humid places it is difficult to get the RH down .

What is important is what the RH is at the time of assembly .

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