By Sam Eakins
I see guitars all the time that eventually die or require extensive repair as a direct result of being too dry or wet. All these repairs could be avoided with some routine maintenance. Wooden instruments thrive in properly humidified environments, so here are some tips to keep your guitar in tip top shape even longer.
Humidity levels should be between 45%-55% in the immediate environment surrounding your guitar. If your guitar lives in an open room, it’s harder to control the effective humidity. Smaller rooms are easier to control, and keeping your guitar in the case when you’re not playing it is best.
Invest in a digital hydrometer ($10-$20). I know the romance of the old school analog looks cool, but we want to be accurate. Have one in your case. And if you have your guitar out keep one close to where the guitar hangs or sets on a stand. And remember, a gig bag is not a case. Most gig bags (with a few exceptions) are just as porous as a pair of pants. Unless you humidify the room where the guitar (in the gig bag) lives you are effecting nothing. “But dude, I spilled a whole beer on my bag, and my guitar was still dry inside”. Yup, gig bags are water resistant (mostly), but humidity is a gas.
If you don’t live in a tropical oasis where the humidity is just right, you may want to invest in a humidifier. However, if you’re looking to treat a room, be aware of all the extra volume you’ll need to humidify. Find a small room for your guitar, and like I said before, it’s best to still keep your guitar in the case. The next option is good for those who don’t have small, confined rooms they can humidify.
There are many in-case humidifiers. I don’t have a favorite, but there are both complicated and not so complicated devices out there. Find the one that fits your lifestyle and use it!
Follow these tips, and you’re on your way to the perfectly humid wooden instrument of your dreams.