With the heating starting back again this week in Quebec, it seems urgent to mention one of the most important points concerning musical instruments which, weirdly, is often not explained when buying instruments in certain shops: the humidity level to respect in your house or in the studio for an optimal maintenance.
Above 35% humidity, the instruments are protected.
False, rates must be between 45 and 55% at all times.
The better the instrument, the less it would be affected.
Fact: False, higher quality instruments are more likely to be constructed (entirely) of solid wood rather than laminated wood. Solid wood is more likely to react - or even crack - to changes in humidity than a laminated wood instrument.
The temperatures are especially to check.
False, humidity levels are much more important than temperature. The important thing on the temperature side is to avoid extremes, for example, leaving the guitar in the car in the sun on a 40-degree day could cause the joints to unglue.
Too much humidity is more harmful than not enough.
Fact: False, the usual damage is almost entirely attributable to too low a humidity level. Too high a rate is a greater risk for the home or studio.
Typical signs that your instrument lacks humidity are :
- The frets stand out (fret sprouting) or are sharp on the sides of the neck.
- You perceive slits in the solid woods, (particularly the soundboard: part of the "top" where the bridge is glued).
- The neck of the instrument, which curves or worse, twists with the loss of humidity and therefore flexibility.
- Parts unglue from each other with shrinkage of the wood and therefore the joints. Several solutions are available to you to control the humidity rates in your house, studio or even in your carrying case to ensure that the instrument is kept in good condition for years.
Here are some examples of maintenance tools :
If you have any doubts that your instrument is in bad shape, come on by during opening hours for advice or just drop off your instrument at our lutherie service for a full tune-up.