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Humidity Control

The Importance of Humidity Control

With some instruments—such as guitars, violins, and clarinets—music makers are hard pressed to find a better sounding and feeling material than wood. The quality of sound produced from fine wooden instruments cannot be matched by synthetic materials.

With this wonderful tone comes a catch: wood is an organic material, and even after it has been harvested, cured, and transformed into your instrument, the cells continue to absorb and release moisture. In order to keep your finely built wooden acoustic instrument playing and sounding its best, it’s important to control the moisture in the wood.

In the factory or custom shop, your instrument was built in a specific climate. In order to play its best and remain within factory tolerances, the humidity needs to remain the same. Ideally, this is around 40% to 60% humidity.

 

What time of year should instruments be humidified? In short, humidify throughout the heating season starting about the time your furnace starts coming on. Keep humidifying throughout the heating season until your furnace no longer comes on. (It doesn’t matter that you keep your thermostat turned down—the air will still be drying out.

How can I measure the humidity level in my home?A hygrometer can tell you the relative humidity of your home or instrument case. Keep one in the room where you store your instruments so you can take appropriate action in keeping constant 40% to 60% humidity year round. Some instrument cases come with one built in.

Below are some examples of what low humidity can do to wooden instruments. Changes to the playability of your instrument can be drastic due to the following:

 

  • Action (string height) changes.
  • Guitar tops flatten out.
  • Guitar fret ends feel a little sharp.
  • Seams begin to separate.
  • Guitar bridges can separate from guitar tops.
  • Cracks can appear in the top and body of guitars and orchestral stringed instruments.
  • The bridge and fretboard can crack.
  • The glue joints in the neck, bridge, and braces may begin to separate on stringed instruments.
  • Clarinet tenon rings loosen.
  • Violin/Viola/Cello/Bass pegs slip.
  • Pianos will go out of tune.

 

Heid Music offers solutions for humidifying your wooden instruments and keeping them in top notch shape. Our staff is available to answer your questions and offer advice on how to best care for your instrument during the heating season and all year round.  

 

Click here to view some humidifying products for your instrument