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I'm not on the humidity police force but.....


ksdaddy

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There are two hygrometers in the living room and I don't believe either one of them. One reads 35%, the other 50%. I don't pay attention anyway, as I've never had issues with humidity in this house. I guess conditions are okay or at least within an acceptable range. Who knows?

 

I just got in a Garrison from Arizona. The action was too low but yet the saddle was very tall. It needed some setup; the fret ends stuck out to a painful degree, the truss rod needed a tweak, etc. I shimmed the saddle up just to get a sense of what the new bone one would need to be dimension-wise. As a starting point (after shimming the saddle and getting the neck relief close to normal) I had a string height of 6/64" at the 12th fret, both bass and treble sides. My goal was/is about 5/64" on the bass side and 4/64" on the treble side. My plan was to tweak and fiddle with the shims and then make a new bone saddle based on my final dimensions.

 

But first, because of the razor frets, I suspected humidity could be a problem with this one. Yeah, sometimes I need to be smacked in the face with a brick to "get it". I don't have a dampit or similar, so I dampened a washcloth and hung it inside the soundhole with a clothes pin. That was 6:00 this morning. By suppertime tonight the string height had jumped up to 8/64". Now the action is too high, the saddle looks comically tall, and things are making sense.

 

I didn't make note or measure the curvature of the top beforehand; it's not like it was sunken in so it didn't occur to me to quantify the before/after conditions.

 

Once this thing gets hydrated back to some acceptable degree I will tweak it. The fingerboard feels dry and rough also, so it would behoove me to oil it up before getting too excited about fine tuning the truss rod.

 

To my recollection, this is the first time I've had to deal with a too-dry guitar. Man, humidity really DOES screw with them, doesn't it?

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Getting an instrument from too dry conditions, into a place where the humidity is normal can really move the action.

 

Where I'm at, the winters are dry, the summers are humid. I try to control the humidity, but as you've said, it's not real exact. So I try to get the action in some kind of middle ground when the humidity is in some kind of middle ground - spring or fall. Then, a bit of change in the humidity either way doesn't move the action an objectionalbe distance.

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I'm not a luthier but have had solid wood acoustics for well over 10 years and have always used humidifiers in the colder months. I live in MA. I can't imagine living in ME that at this time of year you have 50% humidity in your house. The Taylor guitars website has a lot of info on proper guitar humidification. It can be found by going to the service and support tab and scrolling down to tech sheets. They call for the same ideal (47%) humidity as I think Gibson does. I assume that is some sort of accepted standard.

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... The Taylor guitars website has a lot of info on proper guitar humidification. ... They call for the same ideal (47%) humidity as I think Gibson does. I assume that is some sort of accepted standard.

 

Nicely pointed out, and brought up many times in the past.

 

Most would hope to keep the RH in the 45-55% range. Ideal is hard to maintain. Even with good equipment, the margin of error in the readings can be maddening - - - and that's kinda what we're talkin' about. When you live in the north, a cold winter makes for a long battle with humidity. And this winter has been pretty cold around my neck of the woods. B)

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Nicely pointed out, and brought up many times in the past.

 

Most would hope to keep the RH in the 45-55% range. Ideal is hard to maintain. Even with good equipment, the margin of error in the readings can be maddening - - - and that's kinda what we're talkin' about. When you live in the north, a cold winter makes for a long battle with humidity. And this winter has been pretty cold around my neck of the woods. B)

Same here, damned global warming. I also have problems w/getting any reliable readings from hygrometers but one of the things they cover in those tech sheets are visual identifiers for under/over humidified guitars.

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It's a bummer when you make all of your fixes on a too dry guitar- then humidify it and it goes all out of whack. Gotta do it the other way around and humidify it first. The next thing you know all of the bridge/saddle height and truss rod problems disappear with absolutely no effort involved. Once those fret ends stick out there is no way to wet the neck and get them to go back.

I took an old guitar to a luthier around here to have the cracks fixed, possible neck reset , refret, the whole works. He wouldn't do anything to it until he bagged it for two weeks with sponges to get the moisture back into the guitar. It did need a refret and one crack fixed, the others closed up and got cleated. Nothing else needed once the guitar was properly humidified.

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With a nitro finished guitar, it is easier to tell when it is getting too dry. Usually the finish will begin to show the hint of wood grain texture when you tilt the guitar in the light. Then the fret ends poke out. You CAN file the frets to "fix" the problem, but the real fix would be to rehydrate the guitar. A week with a humidifier in the case ( not the sound hole humidifiers)will begin to put the fret ends right. It took time to get this dry, and will take time to go back to normal as well. I use a humidifier in the guitar room during winter. This has really controlled the issues I have had with low humidity.

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How would one humidify an entire guitar?

 

Huge garbage bag with an old fashioned wash tub in the bottom filled with water, then suspend the guitar above it then tie the bag off above the headstock for a week or two? Maybe a heat lamp directed at the wash tub to raise the inside temp a bit.

 

Same huge garbage bag with humidifier in the base?

 

Hang over the shower bath tub full of water with the shower door closed?

 

My cousin made bow to shoot arrows once. He took an Osage Orange branch, shaved it to rough shape then put it into a sweat box. It was a long box, long enough to hold the bow blank. The bottom of the box he had blocks nailed to it so he could bend the branch into the unstrung bow shape he wanted. Then placed a pan of water in one end of the box and a light bulb in the other, then closed the lid. Several days of adding water, made the bow damp enough to 'accept' the shape, then he opened the box to allow it to dry for a week.

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I've got a room humidifier which does a great job, but when the heating is really on and it becomes a fight the best it will do is between 35-40% which is still ok.

 

If you want a good guitar with almost no humidity issues get an all laminate. I have an Ibanez Concord Hummingbird copy all laminate and you can take it to the driest and wettest conditions and it couldn't care less.

 

My two Gibbys are like prima donna, precious darlings compared ..lol..

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I like this "Humidity Police" phrase...

 

I was in a very well respected Guitar shop just outside London yesterday looking to pick up a guitar humidifier. I was told they didn't sell any as no one ever requested case humidifiers. When I asked what humidification was used on the shop floor in the dry winter months the reply was, ".... nothing really bar trying to use numerous small heaters and place them strategically around the shop"...

 

Are all Forum Members crazy with this (me included!!!) obsession with humidity or is this simply an example of a shop that is living on the edge by risking permanent damage to about 35 valuable vintage & new instruments?

 

 

[confused]

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I like this "Humidity Police" phrase...

 

I was in a very well respected Guitar shop just outside London yesterday looking to pick up a guitar humidifier. I was told they didn't sell any as no one ever requested case humidifiers. When I asked what humidification was used on the shop floor in the dry winter months the reply was, ".... nothing really bar trying to use numerous small heaters and place them strategically around the shop"...

 

Are all Forum Members crazy with this (me included!!!) obsession with humidity or is this simply an example of a shop that is living on the edge by risking permanent damage to about 35 valuable vintage & new instruments?

 

 

[confused]

This guy clearly doesn't know what he's talking about. Heaters will only serve to make the air drier. Aside from structural damage, action and tuning stability are probably the first 2 things affected. The reason for this post illustrates the need to humidify your guitars.

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This guy clearly doesn't know what he's talking about.

 

 

....I'm not going to give the shops name but we are talking about one that is owned and run by one of the UK's best Luthiers and his a highly reputed repair shops. Maybe I'm missing something and he has a very naturally high humidity level in this part of the UK.....

 

8-[

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....I'm not going to give the shops name but we are talking about one that is owned and run by one of the UK's best Luthiers and his a highly reputed repair shops. Maybe I'm missing something and he has a very naturally high humidity level in this part of the UK.....

 

8-[

 

Yeah, maybe all this temperature mystique just doesn't appear to be a big thing overthere. It never was here really (more or less same latitude) and I only did go into the topic for the sake of my newly acquired 63 SJ. It seems a bit over-dry and could need more 'body'. BTW there are several 'humidity threads' rolling at the moment and good stuff can be picked up on each of them.

Still these moods of the woods leaves me half blindfolded.

 

 

(your emoticon released a laugh...)

 

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....I'm not going to give the shops name but we are talking about one that is owned and run by one of the UK's best Luthiers and his a highly reputed repair shops. Maybe I'm missing something and he has a very naturally high humidity level in this part of the UK.....

 

8-[

I guess I'm speaking from experience in my part of the world (Boston). Perhaps it isn't dry there like it is here in the winter.

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I bought a new hygrometer yesterday, one of those whiz-bang things that has the wireless sensor you put outside to get the outside temp. Pretty impressive for $18 at Kmart. The humidity is 29% in the house. I put a pan of water on the stove about 1/2 hour ago and it bumped it to 30%.

 

Not sure where this will end up, as before I lost Tammie we had run a vaporizer in the house for 2 days straight to help her breathe and it got so bad it was making all of us cough... it was like a tickle in the back of our throats that wouldn't go away (until we shut the vaporizer down). I didn't have a reliable hygrometer then so I don't know how far we had gone with the humidification.

 

Guess I'll just keep an eye on it.

 

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I'm not obsessed, I'm being practical. In Winter the action on my 1917 Gibson A-4 mandolin used to drop so low the strings rested on the fretboard and, obviously, I couldn't play it. Carved mandolin tops really go up and down with the seasons, with the seasonal changes is moisture in the air and in the house. I could get the top back up and the mandolin into playable condition in the Winter by use of various humidifying techniques- 3 sponges, 3 days in the case, and I was good to go for about a week in the Winter before it started buzzing as the top sagged in the dry house air.

 

I bought a room humidifier and use it in the room where I store all of my instruments- 3 guitars, 2 banjos, 2 mandolins, 3 fiddles- that sure would be a lot of case humidifiers to refill every week or so. The room humidifier works great. I fill it once every 3-4 days, set it to 45% rh and never have any issues with buzzing or frets sticking out, and the instruments generally stay in tune.

 

If I take an instrument on the road, like I might go to Bar Harbor for a week soon, I find them all going flat in tuning as the tops sink down a bit but it's no big deal for a week. I go home, put them back in the music room and they come right back. If I am going to leave one for a few days without playing it I tune it down a quarter turn so they don't go way sharp as they humidify. There's a big increase in tension on the top of a mandolin as the top rises and the tuning goes sharp so I compensate ahead of time. The mandolin acts like the canary in the coal mine for the rest of my instruments. It may seem temperamental but all it ever needs is humidity, no fret work in 93 years, same bridge, no neck reset ( and it has no trussrod), and it's gone through a set of tuners. and it plays as sweet any anything out there. Some folks tell me it's the best oval hole Gibby they ever heard.

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I guess I'm speaking from experience in my part of the world (Boston). Perhaps it isn't dry there like it is here in the winter.

 

 

...It can get to in to the low 30%'s when it gets cold and we crank up the heat in the house. 33% as we speak!!

 

 

photo-29.jpg

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Ah what the hell! Its 38%rh in guitar room, as I speak......Wait....NO 37%.....36%.... Now its settled in.

I bought the Oasis hygrometer. Not sure how accurate it is, but it reads consistant with the old Taylor 'dial-type' weather 'station' that I picked up from a flea market a long time ago.

At any rate, I never have had any crack or top-sinkage issues with my acoustics in my part of the country....Thank goodness [thumbup]

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If you have a guitar with solid components, you really should be the humidity cop in the house. Humidify your guitar room (keeping the door closed except for ingress and egress. Or. a humidified case, or a humidor, a cabinet with humidification.

 

The hard part of keeping one room in your house at a specific humidity level is if your has has forced air heating. That one room has a common heating plant with the rest of the house. Once the fan kicks on it pulls the humidified air out of your room, mixes it with air from the rest of the house, heats it and pumps it back to the entire house, thus diluting the humidity. However, if you keep the music room's door closed you can have a oasis of higher humidity than the rest of the house.

 

As far that store which 'humidfies' with scattered heaters (electric?), that makes no sense. Heat is counter productive to humidification.

 

Some members here have complained that even in big box Guitar stores who have 'Humidified Acoustic Rooms', their 'good stock' is sometimes cracked. This is probably due to the fact that to keep the 'good guitars' safe from the general public, they hang them high up by the ceiling. Trouble is, even though they have a humidifier in the room, the humidified air tends to stratify in the lower part of the room, leaving the guitars up by the ceiling, quite literally, high and dry. They should install ceiling fans to keep the air mixed, floor to ceiling.

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I dug out the cheapo Kaz vaporizer and I've been running it for a couple days now. Low tech but it seems to work. After about 36 hours we all began to have strange coughing fits like before. I wonder if it's because we have extremely hard water. I bought a few gallons of distilled water at Walmart and the throat irritation went away. Not a clue, really, I'm just blowing smoke.

 

The hygrometer has stayed around 38-39% since using the vaporizer, which is a lot better than the 28 it was a few days ago.

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I dug out the cheapo Kaz vaporizer and I've been running it for a couple days now. Low tech but it seems to work. After about 36 hours we all began to have strange coughing fits like before. I wonder if it's because we have extremely hard water. I bought a few gallons of distilled water at Walmart and the throat irritation went away. Not a clue, really, I'm just blowing smoke.

 

The hygrometer has stayed around 38-39% since using the vaporizer, which is a lot better than the 28 it was a few days ago.

You'll do well to keep it in that range for the winter. Does your humidifier have a filter? There are anti bacterial additive for humidifiers because molds, bacteria, etc. can form on a constantly wet surface. This can sometimes cause upper respiratory issues. Always something. You fix one problem and a new one arises.

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The science student in me says that distilled or tap should have no bearing on the humidity a vaporizer puts into the air. The heavier particulate matter, calcium and such, should never make it into the air, let alone into your throat. But... if it works.

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