You already know that a premium acoustic guitar should be kept between 45-50% humidity, but knowing it is one thing – actually getting it there is another.
And how bad is it if you’re a few percentage points off that sweet spot?
Does it really matter?
Taking care of a premium acoustic is a bit like hitting the gym: you know in the long term you’ll be in better shape if you keep it up every day, even though the changes seem incremental at the time.
It’s the same with your guitars: if you keep up some simple principals day to day you can keep your acoustic playing as well as the day you bought it.
Also most guitar manufacturers will not cover damage done to the guitar through humidity or damp problems, even if the guitar is in warranty. So keeping your guitar safe is pretty important.
Gel packs like the Planet Waves Humidipak are one of the easiest ways to ensure your guitar stays at the
humidity sweet spot.
Guitar Humidity Guide
|What is ‘low’ humidity for a guitar? Below 40% Relative Humidity||What is ‘high’ humidity for a guitar? Above 60% Relative Humidity|
Early warning signs
Early warning signs
|Worst case scenario: Below 40% can be a bit of a horror story: less moisture in the air means the wood dries out and starts to shrink. The arch of the top and bottom of the guitar top start to flatten and the soundboard wood itself and the lacquer that coats it can begin to crack. The fretboard can shrink and because the frets themselves aren’t susceptible to variations in air moisture they won’t, so the frets will start to overhang the edge of the fingerboard, making it uncomfortable to play. Because the soundboard starts to shrink and flatten, the bracing connected to it can start to come loose, too.||Worst case scenario: Although high humidity is a bit more difficult to deal with, it is generally much safer for your guitar. Just as the low RH will cause the top to drop, High RH will cause the top to rise as the wood takes on more moisture and starts to expand. This can make your action high and inconvenient to the point of unplayability, and can also limit the movement of the sound board making your guitar sound tight and less reverberant. Neither of these things are desirable, and although some mild fluctuations in RH are to be expected and any guitar will be able to withstand them, it’s best to try and avoid too much variation so that the guitar remains structurally sound and playable.|
OK, So what can I do about it?
So, what do you do if the RH levels start to drop or climb to low or high? Thankfully, the answer isn’t just to physically take your guitar somewhere that it’s safer. That would get ridiculous.
You also don’t need to keep your guitars in a room with a household humidifier to regulate the moisture levels in the air.
You can simply control the RH levels through the use of a tailor-made guitar specific humidifier like the Planet Waves Humidipak 2 way Humidity Control Pouch.
The best thing about a product like this is that not only does it save you the hassle of having to manually regulate the level of moisture in the air, but it also saves you the grief of having to understand what RH levels are really all about! It simply monitors the RH in the guitar case once the guitar is closed away in there, and automatically adjusts it if needs be so that it stays within 45 – 50%. It’s very clever and very easy. It will add moisture to the air, and remove it as it sees fit!
Basically, it consists of a jelly like substance that resides in a pack that saddles over the strings of your guitar. Once it’s there, it naturally fits down into the sound hole where the jelly goes to work. It can just be left there while your guitar is in its case and isn’t being played. It’s as straight forward as that.