Humidifying Your Guitar – One of the most important things you can do to protect your fine guitar is to understand the principles of humidity control. All quality guitars are built at an average of 47-50% relative humidity (RH). This includes Martin, Taylor, Gibson and many others. It can be very dry in parts of the USA (and other parts of the world) especially during heating season, which is typically late October/early November through April, and right into the first week of May. The RH in your home can drop to in the 20% RH range. This can be devastating to your instruments.
Guitars will start to dry out at under 45% RH and can start to crack at 40% and lower. Neck angles will pull up, bridges can lift off tops, and tops can start to sink. The damage from this can be upwards of $500 if necks need to be reset, and higher if more damage occurs. With less expensive laminated wood guitars you don’t need to worry as much, but the dry air can still affect the neck and action…the same goes with solid body electrics where you’ll notice low action, buzzing, and sharp fret ends sticking out.
Some people feel a false sense of security because they’ve gone years with no trouble, but it can suddenly occur with little warning. It can also happen slowly over the years until one day it just gets to a point where you notice things aren’t right.
There are soundhole humidifiers like “Damp-It”, and D’Addario’s amazing 2-way membrane”Humidipak” which save your guitar’s life in the dry season when used correctly. It is critical to use these in the soundhole, and to keep the guitar in the case when not being played during this dry season. You may need to re-moisten these devices between 2-7 days depending on your home’s climate. (The Humidipak uses pre-charged packets that don’t require filling, lasting up to 6 months depending on your climate).
Some companies are denying warranty claims these days as this falls under “neglect”, so please be prudent! Feel free to e-mail me for advice on this! I have seen many dried out Taylors, Martins, Guilds, and Gibsons this year so far. Don’t let yours be another in the long line in my repair shop!
— Scott MacDonald, Master Luthier, for Acoustic Guitar News
P.S. STAY TUNED for a Humidi-pak Giveaway from Acoustic Guitar News!