How about this weather lately? One day it’s a snowstorm the next day it’s 50 degrees and sunny. Can these temperature fluctuations be harmful to your acoustic guitar? If so, what precautions can you take to ensure your guitar has the right humidity level? Is a humidifier something you want to invest in? Tone Tailors owner, Jon Paul Painton answers these questions and gives you suggestions. As a dealer of Martin Guitars, Taylor Acoustic Guitars, Fender Guitars and many others, we know the best steps to take to ensure acoustic guitar health.
Weather Changes and Your Acoustic Guitar
A guitar is a piece of wood - it expands and contracts with different moisture levels. Being winter now, it’s drier in your home which means your guitar is going to shrink. This is when a guitar humidifier comes in to maintain the proper moisture level. A guitar that is too dry can cause cracks, frets popping out, bridges lifting and many other costly repairs.
What is the Optimum Humidity Level?
There is no “optimum temperature.” But if it’s freezing out, it shouldn’t be kept in a garage. It's the same reason why you shouldn't leave beer in a garage. Temperature fluctuations cause it to get skunked. What were we talking about? Anyway, colder temperature means drier air. If it’s too incredibly hot it’s going to absorb more moisture. What you need to be careful of is the extremes. Temperatures that are too cold can equal cracking, and too warm can mean mold along with tuning issues. Ideally, humidity levels on your acoustic guitar should be between 45-55% humidity.
Every Day Use Humidifier
We sell the Music Nomad Humitar - a simple system that has a sponge encased in a plastic container that slides between your strings into the sound hole. Very simple to use with a cost of $14 and essentially minimizing the event of expensive repairs.
High End Humidification
There are also some really nice ones out there from Music Nomad and D’Addario that have gauges that will interact with your smart phone to alert you of your guitar’s humidity level. If you travel a lot or are a touring musician this might be something to consider as you are in an ever-changing environment. This device will send you a quick little update on your guitar’s health.
If you are in tropical climates, your guitar can be overly hydrated and that plays into whether or not you’ll have tuning issues or neck adjustment issues.
What If My Guitar is Already Cracked?
If it’s too late and your guitar is cracked and in need of repair, we offer high end professional repairs. Our guitar tech and owner, John LeClair can fix your guitar and will recommend you the best humidifier for your needs. We will store your guitar in a humidified room until it’s at the right humidity level, then will repair any additional issues, if needed. It’s something we see a lot of in the changing of the seasons, from November through December or April through May. Additionally, we see a lot of guitars needing repair simply because of neglect.
How We Store Our Acoustic Guitars
We have a professionally built and controlled room for our acoustic guitars. Much like a humidor for cigars, our guitar room is perfectly controlled to make sure any acoustic guitar we sell has the proper humidity levels when it goes out the door. We can also give you a great recommendation for acoustic guitar care systems.
How Often Should I Look Into This?
If you’re in Lancaster county, get your guitar prepped and stop in during the spring or fall. If you’re in other locations across the US, you'll have to analyze your climate and take precautions based on your particular area. Essentially, when dry season and wet season are impending, taking it for a quick stop into a reputable guitar repair shop can save you from concern or extra money spent. They may make minor adjustments if needed, or educate you on a product that is potentially beneficial to the health of your instrument.