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Thread: Humidity control, ay ay ay

  1. #1
    Registered User TonyEarth's Avatar
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    Default Humidity control, ay ay ay

    I live in Maryland and in the winter the humidity would drop to 20-some percent at worst, so I bought a small humidifier, which wasn't too cheap and should have worked for my studio apartment (no more than 500 sq ft), but I found it not making much of an impact at all. Today the humidity outside says 87% (about 76% inside apparently). That's an extreme example because it's a rainy day, but it can get decently high even on a regular summer day.

    With a 50-60% difference between the humidity extremes throughout the year are there any special tips you guys have? Do I just need to buy a really beefy humidifier *and* a solid dehumidifier? Does a combo type thing exist? Maybe I need to be looking into sealing off door/window cracks better? Am I worrying about it too much?

    I have found just the AC doesn't really do much at all in either direction. I don't have too nice instruments, but I'm starting to get there or hoping to continue upgrading in the next couple years and am particularly worried about improper humidity control.
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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    I hope someone in Maryland answers you. I’ve lived in Louisiana and north central Texas and have never given it any thought, with no ill consequences over the last 56 years of owning instruments. Guess I’ve just been really lucky down here.
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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    Quote Originally Posted by TonyEarth View Post
    am particularly worried about improper humidity control.
    When one begins to worry, perhaps it is time to take action. Worry/anxiety not a good thing.
    Humidity control is not without minor maintenance and not so minor electric costs, but far better than uncertainty and perhaps damage to instruments.
    For years I was off the grid, wood heat, zero control beyond cases, in the NE. Many fellow musicians had no kind of humidity control. What are now vintage fiddles, guitars, banjos, and mandolins survived, many relatively unscathed.
    I am now able to better care for my instruments, and I do. +/- 50% humidity by a few degrees. And sleep better knowing that.
    Last edited by Jonathan Reinhardt; Sep-07-2022 at 8:19pm.

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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    I get a little anal about humidifying instruments. Worst case scenario, keeping instruments properly humidified won't cause damage, and might help prevent it.

    I'm going to try the Boveda products this year. I'm in Indiana, and right now, the house is staying in the 45-55% range for humidity. The cool thing is the Boveda will maintain a constant humidity, whether that's adding to or subtracting from the humidity in the case. The packs are supposed to last from 2-4 months...so to me worth the cost.

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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    I live in New England and do not bother about the summer/high humidity, but endeavor to maintain 50% RH through the winter. When considering my instrument's health, I go by what I as a human can tolerate (for instance, would I like to be in the trunk of a car in the summer?). I have little tolerance for dry, itchy skin, bloody boogers (sorry), static electricity created by patting the cat, etc. Thus I like to maintain 50% RH in my entire house, but during the worst of cold winter, all instruments are sequestered in a spare bedroom where it is easier to maintain the desired RH. I like Venta Airwashers and use their largest (and incredibly expensive!) unit for the main living space and smaller units in upstairs rooms as needed.
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    Registered User E.R. Villalobos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    I live in New York City and during the summer my instrument is largely out of its case and on a stand. The environmental conditions are ideal and I have nothing to worry about. The winter is just the opposite- my mandolin lives in its fiberglass case that has a strong seal and I use one or sometimes two humidipacks in the case to maintain somewhere between 40-50% RH. The ambient room RH is around 15-20% and I use a room humidifier to boost that up a bit. With our heating system and NE dry air its virtually impossible to achieve a reasonable RH with just the humidifier. I also have a small Govee temp and RH smart sensor in my case and use their app on my phone to check the readings without having to open the case. I’ve tested the sensor with other readers and its very accurate, inexpensive and cool to use. I also rigged up a very effective humidipack ‘recharger’ with two Tupperware containers, some rice for ballast, a little water and sunlight. This all sounds like a lot of work but its actually straight forward and beats the alternatives..

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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    I live in the midwest, high humidity in the summer. I also play on a river cruise weekly on the Mississippi River, very high humidity. I burn wood for heat in the winter. I try to keep the humidity 50% in winter and I run a dehumidifier in summer, but not all the time and my instruments see humidity in the 90's regularly. I worry more about low humidity in the winter and run a humidifier all winter and manage to keep 50%. Been doing this for decades with no problems except chasing action from dry to wet to keep the the action consistent.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Adrian Minarovic
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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    Adrian

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    Registered User J Mangio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    https://www.montanalutherie.com › ...
    Dreadful Over-humidification - Montana Lutherie
    Go to read more.,at the bottom of page, Then humidity damage.
    Last edited by J Mangio; Sep-08-2022 at 8:09am.
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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    Here in New England I use case humidifiers in the winter.

    What's puzzling to me, though, is that back in the 60's and 70's, no one I knew bothered about humidification, or maybe even knew it was important. I only started thinking about it when I took up the mandolin, about 15 years ago. All those years and all those guitars went unhumidified and, as far as I know, nothing terrible ever happened.
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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    I wouldn't worry about over humidification, unless you are putting something wet in your case. Natural humidity from the environment I don't believe will damage you instrument. Setting it out in a rain may, but we're not going to do that. I prefer to humidify my environment and not humidify inside the case. Been playing around 60 yrs. No problems yet.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  16. #12

    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    Agree with others, it is easy to overthink this, IMHO.

    Basically, there are two types of people in this old world -- those who worry about humidity and those who don't, IMHO.

    That, of course, is a variation on "there are two types of men in the world -- those who use a power washer (for everything) and those who get a bucket, soapy water, a sponge, and a stepladder...."

    Which one are you?

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    I wouldn't worry about over humidification, unless you are putting something wet in your case. Natural humidity from the environment I don't believe will damage you instrument. Setting it out in a rain may, but we're not going to do that. I prefer to humidify my environment and not humidify inside the case. Been playing around 60 yrs. No problems yet.
    Dunno, pops, I tend to disagree on that. Dry wood will shrink and crack, damp wood will swell and grow mold & mildew, glue joints will fail with damp wood, add heat to either situation and things get worse.

    I can’t offer advice on humidifying your instrument, because I’ve never done it or worried about it in 56 years of playing guitar, but I know that many instruments have been damaged by environmental conditions. Bruce Weber’s site states that he deals with many instruments damaged by musicians who overdo the case humidifiers. Here’s a pic from his website …

    Click image for larger version. 

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    So, I know many people worry about this stuff, and damage is possible either way; therefore, if you are one who loses sleep over it, educate yourself and beware lest your worry be misplaced and create problems when none exist.
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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    The time to worry about humidity is not after something happens.
    Sorry, I am no longer suffering fools

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    Registered User Billy Packard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    Living in Grass Valley where the summer humidity readings have been lower than Death Valley at times has got me thinking. After reading and researching various points I decided on the machine below to maintain balanced levels in my 800sq.ft. apt. I have been using a hydrometer from StewMac as well. The two don't agree but the lowest reading of 41% and the higher reading 50% are in range to keep me calm. When I take the mandolin out to a gig in the much dryer air I can tell it is drying out because the pitch lowers as does the action - not a lot but it is noticeable.

    Billy
    ps, I got this machine at a local ACE hardware for $129.00

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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    I agree Mark, excessive humidity can damage and instrument, especially glue joints. Here in the midwest we have humid days, and nights that can get to 100%. Days can get in the 60's on a good day and that is a saving grace. If you lived in a rain forest it would be necessary to do something. I have dealt with this all my life and not had an instrument damaged by the humidity. I have fixed many instruments that came into the shop form dryness in the winter tho. A constant humid environment would definitely not be good. Today I have windows open, it's 70% now and may go down a little yet this afternoon. I'll close them by 4:30 or 5 when the humidity starts going up. It will be 80 in here tonight I am sure. I don't always use the dehumidifier, maybe 50% of the days. Top swells and saddle goes down to compensate. Some years it's worse than others, this year is humid, but not as bad as some I have seen. I think Bruce Webber has talked about humidity damage, but mostly related to a humidifier in the case being too wet. I'll keep watching this and see if someone has had humidity damage from simply being around a humid environment. Some have a problem with constant dryness, we all have our problems to deal with.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    I think the bad humidity problems are mostly from humidifiers, damp cloths, sponges, what have you, inside cases to be sure, mostly due to people trying to prevent problems and causing them instead.

    I believe the two worst case scenarios for an instrument are:

    1. Very rapid, extreme changes in temp and humidity

    2. Long term exposure to really extreme conditions
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  23. #18
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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    I totally agree Mark.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    Quote Originally Posted by jaycat View Post
    Here in New England I use case humidifiers in the winter.

    What's puzzling to me, though, is that back in the 60's and 70's, no one I knew bothered about humidification, or maybe even knew it was important. I only started thinking about it when I took up the mandolin, about 15 years ago. All those years and all those guitars went unhumidified and, as far as I know, nothing terrible ever happened.
    I agree with this.

    I remember when no one worried about it, and they'd find Grandpa's 1942 Gibson guitar in the attic or under a bed and no crazy damage was found.

    My belief - based on NOTHING, just my opinion - is that if wood has survived some years without any issues it may be safe without additional precautions.

    I live on Long Island, NY, just east of NYC.

    All of my instruments with 1 exception are over 10 years old. Only two were purchased new, and I have no way of knowing if the used ones were humidified or not before I became their caretaker..

    Being the paranoid type, in the summer I run a dehumidifier in my music room/office, and in the winter a humidifier. At this point I truly don't know how necessary it is. The changes aren't rapid or THAT extreme.

    I talked it over with my repair guy (who is also a luthier) and his opinion was "it's an inexpensive thing to do to give you piece of mind, even though I don't think it matters that much to what you have."

    All that being said, my dehumidifier is working even as we speak. Then it will be humidifier time. Might be because my instrument insurance covers basically anything that happens to them EXCEPT damage caused by weather.

  25. #20

    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    Quote Originally Posted by LKN2MYIS View Post
    ...I remember when no one worried about it, and they'd find Grandpa's 1942 Gibson guitar in the attic or under a bed and no crazy damage was found.
    I think what is being hinted at in this discussion is money or the money these instruments represent. Back when Grandpa's old Gibson was just a used guitar and worth $150 nobody worried about it. Now, of course, it may be worth $thousands depending on the model and year. And, sometimes the gamble didn't pay off and instruments were found cracked, warped, imploded, or otherwise damaged. Same with boutique instruments, a relatively new concept, again, carrying a steep price tag -- and along with that price tag something new to worry about.

    It is about maintenance and reasonable precaution, IMHO. Just as you wouldn't buy a new Mercedes and park it on the street or in the rain or snow...

  26. #21
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    Since Mark Gunther had the photo from this post - here is Bruce Weber's opinion on humidity - https://www.montanalutherie.com/drea...umidification/

    I do use in case humidifiers in winter, but am more worried about over humidification in summer. Have ruined the finish on a few instruments playing outside in high humidity with a body that sweats profusely.

    Have many friends who do nothing during the winter and will even leave instruments hanging out. While it gets dry in winter, it's not consistently a problem.

    My own opinion is many folks became focused on humidification because Taylor guitars in the 1980's was having a terrible time with instruments going from Lemon Grove, CA to places like Minneapolis, MN and then cracking. After some of the folks came up here to experience it, they began to spread the word that humidification was the be all and end all. But that's my own opinion and am not an impartial observer as I was a customer at the store where Taylor was having the problems.

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    Registered User Denis Kearns's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    Where I live in California, the humidity is generally pretty low, exacerbated by the AC in the summertime. I find that some of my instruments get too dry and the tops collapse slightly, leading to fret buzz. I rehydrate by placing them into a wet shower for a few days. I run the shower for a few seconds before inserting the mando or guitar. I tell myself that my next house will have a dedicated music room with proper humidity levels.

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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    If an instrument is built in a low humidity environment it can tolerate that environment better than one built in a more humid environment. A lot of people who have to deal with humidity and dryness thru the year have two bridges or saddles, one for summer, one for winter. Some instruments tolerate changes better than others. My mandolin will change at least 1/4" from summer to winter. I humidify in winter and try to keep 50%, but summer is humid. If I don't chase the action the intonation is off. I am quite anal about my action so I carry a measuring device and tools to raise/lower the saddle in my case. It's just part of where I live and being fussy about the action and intonation.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  29. #24
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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    I use a humidifier in winter and dehumidifier in summer here where humidity swings from less than 20% in winter to over 70% sometimes in summer. Keep it between 45- 50 percent now. Never had an issue really with any of my guitars or mandolins in over 30 years when i didn't pay attention to humidity, but did have an expensive fiddle crack a few years back in winter so started maintaining one room with the above devices.

  30. #25
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidity control, ay ay ay

    As my dad would say, you been took. If it ain't humidifying, it ain't a humidifier.

    I use the cheap kind they sell in drug stores, and they works great. Here in Northern New England our humidiry extremes are as extreme as yours. I live in a small two-floor house, so we have one up in the bedroom for our health and one down in the livingroom for my instruments' health.

    We also have a couple of Home Depot's $10 hygrometers to tell us when to switch the humidifiers on: when the humidity dips below 50%. You just need one.

    Rite Aid, Walgreen's, CVS, or any of the rest of them will have a functioning humidifier, and it won't set you back much.
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