Thursday, February 19, 2009

Humidifying Your Acoustic Guitar

Guitar Humidifying Tips A few minutes of care keeping your guitar properly humidified will help hold its set up and prevent costly repairs. Most repairs to guitars, particularly acoustic guitars, are due to the instrument being dried out. Ideally if you keep your guitar and your case humidified anywhere from 40-55 relative humidity (rh) you will avoid serious issues. If you have a standard vinyl covered wood case keeping the case and the guitar humidified will make maintaining a proper ‘rh’ for the instrument even easier. There are many humidification devices on the market, all of which will get the job done. Using a humidifier like our Planet Waves Item #GH that utilizes a sponge to store and release the moisture is the most common type and very effective. In the winter months where I live, the heat is on and the ‘rh’ in my home and office can be under 20%. This is absolutely disastrous for any wooden instrument. Bob Taylor taught me this trick, that will get your guitar up to the proper humidity level without the risk of over humidifying. It will also make it easier for you to maintain that level through the difficult seasons.

1. Remove the sponge from the Planet Waves GH humidifier and soak it in water (preferably distilled water). Shake off excess so there is no dripping.

2. Insert it in the GH and place the GH in between the 3rd and 4th strings on your guitar.

3. Every 24 hours (this is critical) check the sponge. If it is solid and dry start over with step #1. If is still supple and moist your guitar is in the ‘safe’ zone. Continuing to add water can actually do damage at this point. Over humidifying can be just as bad or worse than under humidifying so be careful to stop adding water if the sponge is not completely dry.

4. At this point check the guitar weekly. If you are keeping the guitar in its case and the sponge is dry and hard again, it is probably time for another 24 hour treatment. If the guitar was stabilized in the case it may not be necessary to wet the sponge immediately. You do have a week or so leeway. When you do wet it, check it after 24 hours. If dry again, wet it again, etc., until the proper ‘rh’ level is achieved and the sponge is not dry after 24 hours.
Just taking these simple steps will keep your guitar healthy and playing great. I have seen cracks close, necks straighten out and other serious issues simply go away after getting the humidity level back up to where it should be. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us and we will do our best to point you in the right direction.

Jim D’Addario

Humidity Control For Your Guitar Article

See other articles on instrument care and great lessons at The Stage, D'Addario's Musician Hub: