All of our instruments are made of thin pieces of solid wood that are glued together and as a result are strongly affected by changes in temperature and humidity. We handcraft our guitars and ukeleles in a carefully controlled environment with relative humidity of between 45% to 55%, and a temperature of 22-24 C. It is therefore important that they are subsequently stored in similar conditions, as any extreme changes can cause damage to your instrument.
The effects of high relative humidity
If the relative humidity exceeds 60%, this can increase the level of moisture in wood and cause it to expand and swell. This can lead to noticeable problems with your instrument, such as:
- Weakened glue joints
- High action
- Poor sound quality
The effects of low relative humidity
Many problems that occur with all-solid wood guitars are often as a result of exposure to low relative humidity. If this drops to below 40% it can cause serious damage to your instrument. Some of the possible effects of low humidity are:
- String buzz. The loss of moisture in the wood cause s the wood to shrink and this can cause the action to lower resulting in a string buzz. This is a sign that your guitar is drying out and needs to be hydrated
- Concave top
- Protrusion of the frets
- Body cracks
It should be noted that damage arising from changes in climate / humidity is deemed preventable by all instrument manufacturers and is there fore not covered under warranty. While it is clearly not possible to adjust the climate where you live, there are steps that you can take to control the environment in which your instrument is kept. We strongly recommend that you do the following:
- Always keep you instrument in its case when you are not playing it.
- Purchase a digital hygrometer / thermometer so you can keep a close eye on the relative humidity and temperature.
- The winter is a particularly dangerous time for solid-wood instruments as the humidity will often drop to extremely low-levels because of the drying effects of heating systems that people use to combat the cold weather. Therefore we strongly recommend that you buy and instrument humidity control system to maintain an optimal level of relative humidity. Systems such as the Dampit and the Planet Waves Humidipak are very effective and are available for as little as £15.
- When your instrument is taken from one environment to another, allow it time to adjust slowly to the change. You can do this by keeping it in its case for a short time before getting it out to play.