It's Time to Humidify Your Instrument
With colder weather comes drier air. Every year we fill up the humidifiers and keep lip balm in our pockets, but do we pay attention to our guitars? Dry conditions may spell ruin for an acoustic guitar. Bad string action and buzzing, protruding fret ends, wood cracking, top sinking, bridge lifting, and other damage to your instrument can occur. These types of repairs often require hours of labor, and in some cases, the repair cost may dwarf the cost of the instrument. However, the solution to keeping your guitar healthy is not complex or costly. Enter the humidifier.
Guitar humidifiers are designed to provide the optimal amount of humidity at an ideal rate to the instrument, which is a relative humidity (RH) of around 45-50 percent. In most humidifiers, you add water to a specially designed sponge, which is then placed inside a housing that will sit inside of the case with the guitar. For humidity’s sake, the best place for a guitar to be kept is inside of a hardshell case with the humidifier. Humidifiers work best when being used in a closed environment, so the enclosed space of the case is the most ideal housing for your instrument. Leaving a guitar hanging on the wall or in a stand is often less suitable, unless the climate of the room is relatively stable and sits at the ideal RH.
There are many effective humidifiers, each one offering a different approach to humidifying your instrument. One incredibly popular and effective solution is the Hydrophilic sponge, available as the D’addario Humidifier Pro or the Music Nomad Humitar, which can hold up to 12 times its dry weight in water. This effective dry to wet weight ratio means that the sponge can go a long time without needing to be rehydrated, so it becomes easier to use. This product sits on top of the strings, allowing humidity straight into the soundhole of the guitar. D'addario also makes this style of humidifier for ukuleles.
Another popular solution is the D'addario Soundhole Humidifier. This option uses a sponge placed inside a circular housing that fully covers your soundhole. This is a wonderful solution for getting moisture straight into the body of the guitar, creating a well contained space inside the body cavity itself. This product is a great way to keep your guitar outside of its case, but well hydrated. However, it ignores the neck of the instrument, so any user should be mindful of the RH of the room if they choose to keep the instrument outside of its case.
Oasis created the OH-1, a humidifier that uses their patented product ‘humigel’, a solution that can hold up to 500 times its own dry weight in water. This means far less concern over whether you need to add water or not. When it is time to add more water, it’s easy to tell, since the OH-1 will shrivel up to signal that it has dried out. The enclosure of this humidifier is a fabric that allows water vapor out, but all the liquid is kept inside, so that no small dripping or excess water can damage your instrument. Oasis also make the OH-14 for string and woodwind instruments.
If you are particularly concerned about damage to your instrument in the dry winters of Minnesota, you might be glad to know that there's a smart way to keep track of the humidity in your guitar case with the D'addario Humiditrak.
With so many options, it’s best to consider the amount of time you can devote to caring for your instrument, the space it will be kept, and your own personal playing habits and preferences. These factors are some of the best indicators towards which humidifier will be best suited for you and your guitar. As the weather grows colder and the air begins to dry out, take some time to care for your guitar, and it will thank you with many more years of playability. If you have a guitar that might have been damaged from lack of humidity, Twin Town Guitars offers full repair services such as, setups, neck adjustments, fret work, crack repairs, and restringing. Give us a call at 612-822-3334 to set up a repair, or for any questions on which humidifier would be best for you and your instrument.