Guitars and Humidity
Acoustic guitars are some of the most well known and beloved instruments in the world. Whether you just picked a guitar up for the first time or were a personal friend of Van Halen himself, keeping your guitar healthy and maintained is the most important thing you can do to keep it sounding amazing. For this article, we will be talking about humidity: why it’s important, what happens without it, and how to keep your guitar at the perfect humidity.
Why is Humidity Important?
Let’s talk about what happens when your guitar dries out. In short…it warps, cracks, or splits. An acoustic guitar is made from multiple pieces of very thin, precisely formed, wood. Specifically, the face of the guitar consists of two pieces of wood that are joined down the middle. The bridge and sound hole connect these pieces, and as the wood dries out, the bridge can start to lift off the guitar (or come off entirely). Another thing that can happen is the face will start to curve or bow downward, taking the bridge and the strings with it. As it depresses, the strings get closer to the fretboard. If those strings start to rest on the frets themselves, the guitar becomes unplayable.
Yet another problem that humidity can bring to your acoustic guitar is that the neck of the guitar dry out, shrinking the diameter, and leaving the metal frets sticking out either side (can we get an enormous OUCH!). These frets can be extremely sharp and cut up your hand, which obviously isn’t what you want when playing. Depending on the level of deterioration, these repairs can run into the hundreds of dollars, so it pays to avoid this problem from the get go.
How to Keep a Guitar Humid
There are a few ways to keep a guitar in the sweet spot range of 45-55% humidity. If you keep your guitar in a hard case or gig bag when not in use, the easiest option is to use a sound hole humidifier. Theses types of humidifiers are about as basic as they come (and SUPER easy to use). The top comes off and out pops a small, dry sponge. Run the sponge under some water, pop it back in the case and stick it in between the strings (down into the sound hole). Actually, this works for every instrument with a sound hole! If you need one for your ukulele or mandolin, check out this smaller humidifier that will fit a little bit better.
If you keep your guitars up on a wall instead of in a bag, the sound hole humidifier won’t work as well, as you will lose a lot of the humidity to the ambient air. In that case, we recommend a sound hole humidifier cover, which completely covers the sound hole and keeps the inside, unfinished part of the guitar protected from the ambient humidity in the room.
The last option is something like this Humidipak from D’Addario. These are the best option for guitars in cases and gig bags, and will not only keep the guitar from drying out, but will also pull humidity from the guitar if you are somewhere over 55% ambient humidity.
Keeping your acoustic guitar from drying out is one of the easiest and best ways to keep your instrument sounding great. Don’t wait until the problems get so bad that you need to bring it in for repairs (although we do have the best repairman in the business…so we do love to see you;))! If you ever have any questions, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll have a member of our team answer any questions you have!
Thanks for reading!