Proper Guitar Care & Humidity

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(Note: this is an excerpt from our Instrument Wellness page.) If you want your guitar to function at its best, always remember: Stability is the key.  A good case and a humidifier will help keep your instrument more stable.  When not being played, your guitar should be in its case with the humidifier, unless you keep your instruments in a climate-controlled room.  Climate fluctuations are hard on guitars, and quick changes are worse.  For instance, if you remove your instrument from a cold car, leave it in the case for an hour so it can equalize with the room temperature.  Read on for more tips and info…

  • The fingerboard and bridge should be oiled and conditioned at least 3-4 times per year. Screws and gears should also be checked and tightened with the same frequency.  Most guitarists bring in their instrument for a full setup 1-2 times per year, while making their own minor adjustments even more frequently. (Learn more about making your own adjustments here.)
  • If you are experiencing a lot of string breakage, make sure you have enough windings on the tuning posts and that there aren’t any sharp spots, or burrs on the saddle.  If they are still breaking often, try working on your right-hand technique.  Going between alternate tunings can cause excessive string breaking too.
  • Keep a case humidifier around at all times.  The monsoon season is really the only time of the year you can reduce your humidifying.  Although the humidity rises slightly during the winter months, the heater in your house dries out the air.  Because of this, winter can be the harshest time for guitars.

Contact us to have regular maintenance done on your guitar asap.

Humidification:

Guitar_Man_RainThe sweet spot for guitars and other string instruments is 40% – 50% RH.  We constantly monitor the relative humidity of the store with four room-humidifiers and three hydrometers placed throughout the shop.  When a guitar dries out, all sorts of bad things happen.  As wood dries it shrinks in various directions.  When internal components of the guitar start shrinking, (bracing, reinforcement plates, neck joint, etc.) they pull on each other in different directions. This causes the entire instrument to fight against itself, making it tighten up and becomes less resonant.  The neck angle will start to shift and the top will sink, causing the strings to get lower and start buzzing on the frets.  Finally, the instrument will start to crack and become unplayable.

Here in Flagstaff, when the sky is clear and a breeze is blowing, humidity can go into single digits.  This is absurdly low for humans and especially for delicate instruments made of wood.  During certain parts of the year, the next day can bring monsoon weather creating 85% – 98% humidity.  These changes are extremely rough on guitars.  Keeping your guitar in a case will help insulate and stabilize it from these fluctuations.  There are many different ways to humidify your instrument.  We recommend the Oasis Guitar humidifier.  Bring it by the shop or give us a call to discuss which option is best for you.

Visit the Climate & Instrument Wellness page for more info.

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