It’s that time of year again, the time where I not only dread taking my dog for a walk in the cold weather, but also dread the challenge of protecting my Taylor acoustics from low humidity in the air.
Last winter was awful for my guitars, and I paid for it this summer when I needed to get four guitars set-up before recording in the studio. After fixing my guitars intonations and frets, Mark Weninger, my guitar tech, reminded me to not only humidify the room, but also humidify my guitar cases.
Here are three tips Mark shared with me:
Tip 1: Use two humidifying systems in each case…
… and don’t use the plastic cover over the sound hole!
I’m using two Dampits in each case, one in the guitar and one at the upper part of the case by the headstock. (I may even need to use three if the season is extra dry.) The goal is to keep the humidity of each case’s environment at 50-55%. Mark said, “Don’t use the plastic, sound hole cover that comes with the Damp-It. Your goal is to keep the case humidified too!” Mark also stresses the need to be very careful in clearing the excess water of your Dampits to avoid water spots developing in the guitar.
Tips 2: Use a humidity reader for each case, not ONLY the room.
Having a humidity reading of the case is as important as a reading of the room.
I’m keeping an Oregon humidity sensor in each of my Taylor cases. These small sensors wirelessly send the humidity reading to a larger humidity reader that sits on my shelf. This allows me to check each case’s humidity without having to open the case.
If it seems expensive to buy this many readers, note a fret replacement on one acoustic will cost you $250.
Tip 3: Open sparingly! Leave the acoustics in their cases as much as possible!
I hate opening a case each time I want to play too, but the winter isn’t the time to leave your acoustics on stands. Each time you open your case, you compromise the controlled environment.
Now, I’m still doing my best to get my music studio room to 39-40%. I have two, smaller room humidifiers in my room.
* * * Bonus Tips: A few thoughts about gigging and humidity * * *
It’s impossible to keep a room at 55% in Michigan, but I can at least get it up to 38%.
If you gig a lot, be cautious when transporting your guitars too. Avoid leaving your guitars in the trunk, so they also can stay at a comfortable temperature with you. Also, if you can avoid it, don’t leave your guitars in the car when you arrive at the gig. Bring them inside the bars and clubs when you arrive, and let them adjust to temperature changes before opening the cases.
Once you get home from your gig, stay focused about getting your guitar case back to 55% humidity level. Re-soak those Dampits. Avoid opening the case for a while. If you are doing your best to keep your cases at a controlled environment before and after a gig, your acoustics should be able to handle the weather even better than you.