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Author Topic: keeping your guitar humidified during the winter  (Read 2768 times)

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Offline unezrider

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keeping your guitar humidified during the winter
« on: February 03, 2011, 01:33:16 PM »
hello friend,
for the last few years now (since i bought an old stella) i have been keeping my room humidified during the winter. i use a small room size humidifier that i run a bit every day.
today i took my electric guitar into the shop for a setup & new bridge. & was talking to my luthier about the rough fret edges on the side of the neck. he told me it was because the fretboard was drying out. & he asked me if i keep the guitar humidified, & i told him how. & he asked me if i keep my guitars in their cases, or on stands. & he said sometimes keeping them in their case will seal off enough air from the room they will not get the proper humidity.
i know this started on this guitar long before i started keeping the room humidified. but i was wondering how some of you take care of your guitars during these winter months? on a stand? in it's case? other methods of keeping them from drying out?
any ideas would be appreciated.
chris
"Be good, & you will be lonesome." -Mark Twain

Offline onewent

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Re: keeping your guitar humidified during the winter
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2011, 01:59:52 PM »
Hi Chris..I'll take a shot at this for you.  First, where are you, geographically?  If you're like me, USA NEast, humidity is only an issue for about half the year.  We use a whole-house humidifier, but a room humidifier should work if sized correctly, but is a bit more work.
Second, buy a cheap sling psychrometer on ebay or somewhere, and a hygrometer.  The sling will give you a pretty close reading of real RH, then, calibrate your hygrometer.  Don't rely on the hygrometer out of the box, digital or otherwise, they can be off 10 points or more, no matter the advertising claims.  
Next, monitor the humidity of the room in which you keep your guitars .. in or out of the case, doesn't matter .. to see if you have a minimum of ~ 40%, and no more than 55% or so, could cause sweating > mold etc.
If you're in that range with your set up, you're good to go.  If you're low, I'd check the size/functioning of your humidifier.  If low, at that point I'd store my guitars in a case with a store-bought guitar humidifier, or a home made one made from sponge and baggie with holes punched in it.  That should be a stop-gap measure until you get the humidifier issue sorted out.
Hope that help for starters..the key to all this is the sling psychrometer/hygrometer..then you'll know the actual RH reading in your room.
If you frequent the umgf.com, there's been a sh!tload of posts on RH, from the mundane to the scientific, so do a search there if you have a day to burn  ..   ;D
or this:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hygrometer
Regards, tom

Oh, and I wanted to add that on some guitars, typically less expensive ones, the fingerboard shrinks anyway, because the wood may not have been totally dry upon construction..I come across many, many old Stellas, Regals et al that have the shrunken fingerboard issue..but it's a simple zip with a file to clean it up.  So, humidified or not, your electric may have suffered the shrunken board regardless.. .. not saying your electric is a cheap guitar, though..  ;)
« Last Edit: February 03, 2011, 03:50:12 PM by onewent »

Offline unezrider

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Re: keeping your guitar humidified during the winter
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2011, 05:19:30 PM »
thanks guys!
that info really helps. i know for a fact the fretboard on my paul has been that way before i even started humidifying in the winter. & i can't say it's gotten any worse over the years, either. but i will most definitely look into a psychrometer/hygrometer so i can maintain the room better than i do.
& to answer your question tom, i live in northern illinois ? about 90 miles west of chicago.
& maybe my cases are airtight, toby  :P
thanks again, guys! appreciate it!
chris
"Be good, & you will be lonesome." -Mark Twain

Offline unezrider

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Re: keeping your guitar humidified during the winter
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2011, 09:07:38 PM »
hello friend,
just wanted to say thanks, again. the hygrometer is on it's way to my door  :) (a lot cheaper than i thought they'd be. though i made sure mine was shipped from the states?
"Be good, & you will be lonesome." -Mark Twain

Offline eric

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Re: keeping your guitar humidified during the winter
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2011, 07:53:57 AM »
Here's my question:  I live in the high desert where humidity hovers fairly steady around 20% to 30% (right now 17%).  My trusty 40-year old Gibson is checkered to hell and gone.  I've got my eye on a very nice new guitar, but I'm concerened about what will happen when it arrives from the humid east where it was built.  Is it a question of keeping the guitar in a specific humidity range, or is it the variability of the humidity from season to season?
--
Eric

Offline GhostRider

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Re: keeping your guitar humidified during the winter
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2011, 10:54:33 AM »
Eric:

I live in equally arid western Canada. I've bought guitars from the east that have not immediately or over the course of a few years checked to heck.

What I have done is when the guitar arrives put a sponge-type humidifier in the case and let it dry out slowly (of course taking it out often to play!) to the 40% humidity I keep in my house by a central, furnace-mounted humidifier.

I think Toby is right, but being in the case sure slows the drying out of the eastern guitar and sponge humidifier, giving the guitar time to "get comfortable".

Alex

Offline onewent

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Re: keeping your guitar humidified during the winter
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2011, 11:49:36 AM »
Elder, to answer your question in part, it's not the changes in humidity, per se, that cause damage, although that can be an issue over time.  It's the constant 20%-30% that will allow the woods to loose moisture, and then check, or crack.  At your low RH range, you need a plan to humidify your guitars, such as a whole house or room humidifier (best cases), or case sponges (last choice).  If you're new arrival is newly made from the East coast, I'd be in contact with the maker for any recommendations.
The minimum I'd do is use the sponge inside the guitar daily.  Check my link above for the umgf.com and search 'humidify' on that forum..lots of good info.  Hope this helps..Tom

Offline Kokomo O

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Re: keeping your guitar humidified during the winter
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2011, 07:47:07 PM »
I've had the experience that a room humidifier wasn't sufficient, even though it was a relatively small room and was running pretty much 24/7. This was back when we lived in Manhattan, in a building heated by radiators, but really overheated. So the RH was probably about like in the west, in the 20% range. I ended up having to keep the guitar in its case with a dampit in the humidified room. You might have to do that out west too. Since moving to the suburbs, and living in houses with forced-air heating, it hasn't been an issue.

Offline unezrider

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Re: keeping your guitar humidified during the winter
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2011, 10:05:47 AM »
hello friend,
i thought i should mention that after doing some research, its seems guitars with a crack in it's ebony fretboard are nearly as common as guitars with ebony fretboards. slight exageration, of course. but stories very similar to mine are all over the place. (my paul has an ebony fretboard).
so a word of precaution to those with ebony. it is a denser wood & not as forgiving as say, rosewood. & from what i gather, needs a little extra TLC to keep it up nice. & maintaining proper humidity levels is a must.
"Be good, & you will be lonesome." -Mark Twain

Offline GhostRider

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Re: keeping your guitar humidified during the winter
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2011, 10:58:45 AM »
hello friend,
. it is a denser wood & not as forgiving as say, rosewood. & from what i gather, needs a little extra TLC to keep it up nice. & maintaining proper humidity levels is a must.

Here's an article on ebony fretboard maintenance

http://www.12fret.com/fret/fv2n2.htm

Alex

Offline uncle bud

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Re: keeping your guitar humidified during the winter
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2011, 11:12:58 AM »
hello friend,
. it is a denser wood & not as forgiving as say, rosewood. & from what i gather, needs a little extra TLC to keep it up nice. & maintaining proper humidity levels is a must.

Here's an article on ebony fretboard maintenance

http://www.12fret.com/fret/fv2n2.htm

Alex

They recommend tung oil. However, it's perhaps worth pointing out that some of the tung oil you find in hardware stores has petroleum distillates. I don't know that you want that, though Alex is from Alberta, where they defiantly eat bitumen and corn flakes for breakfast. So I imagine pure 100% tung oil the way to go for ebony fretboards?

Offline Parlor Picker

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Re: keeping your guitar humidified during the winter
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2011, 04:00:36 AM »
Rick Sellens recommends linseed oil for this purpose.
"I ain't good looking, teeth don't shine like pearls,
So glad good looks don't take you through this world."
Barbecue Bob

Offline uncle bud

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Re: keeping your guitar humidified during the winter
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2011, 07:31:51 AM »
Rick Sellens recommends linseed oil for this purpose.

Just don't leave the tung or linseed oil-soaked rags lying around: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/ConsumerNews/summer-safety-diy-dangers-linseed-oil/story?id=11328546

Offline Stuart

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Re: keeping your guitar humidified during the winter
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2011, 08:13:22 AM »
Years ago I bought a bottle of Howard Feed N Wax from Elderly and use it from time to time.

http://www.elderly.com/accessories/items/GRP16.htm

http://www.howardproducts.com/

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