Wood and Humidity

WesPaul

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Recently bought a 1974 Custom over in London and brought it over here into its new home of Denver, Colorado, needless to say two very different climates. Just wondering how much this will affect the wood, fingerboard, and everything else and what I should be looking for that could be going wrong. There are definitely some cracks between the seems of the wood, the neck, etc., but I am not worried about those as I am pretty sure they are normal for climate change and not the death of an instrument. Thank You for any info.
 

zslane

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I have noticed that climate definitely has an effect on my (electric) guitars.

For instance, I went away last Fall for seven weeks on business. I left near the end of September when it was still fairly warm here in Los Angeles, and there was no conceivable thought given towards leaving the heat on while I was gone. I came back towards the end of November to a rather cold apartment, and I noticed that the action on all my guitars had dropped to the point where there was fret buzz all over the place. I raised the bridges and so forth, only to find that by the next day, after the apartment had warmed up from my having turned the heat on, that the action on all my guitars rose (back) up, making all my adjustments a Very Bad Idea. I realized I had probably made the apartment a little too warm, and so I reduced the heat to something more reasonable. As you can probably guess, the action on my guitars dropped a bit again.

I realized that the only hope I have of maintaining consistent action height and tuning stability on my guitars is to try and keep my apartment as climate-controlled as possible, which can be a little tricky in such a (relatively) arid region that periodically experiences dramatic temperature shifts. :dunno:
 

tampa898

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It will be fine. Heck here in London Ontario the temp goes from 100F to -40F through the seasons and my guitars are fine. Not that there outside or anything.
 

River

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I live near you, a little higher and a little dryer. I keep a damp sponge in my guitar cases. If I don't, some of them start to develop sharp fret ends. Some I've had to dress, others just watch the neck binding crack at the nibs.

One I'm not willing to dress any closer, but three days in the case with the sponge and the sponge is dry and the ends aren't sharp anymore.

The Rosewood boards also oxidize rapidly and start turning gray. I treat them with mineral oil when I change strings. I don't think that really does anything to moisturize the wood as some say, but it takes the gray off.

Tampa - thing is, where I live no one has air conditioning. You can keep the indoor atmosphere fairly stable in the winter, but not in the summer. The humidity can go from 40% (that's high here) to 1% in four hours. It can take its toll, even indoors.
 

tampa898

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I live near you, a little higher and a little dryer. I keep a damp sponge in my guitar cases. If I don't, some of them start to develop sharp fret ends. Some I've had to dress, others just watch the neck binding crack at the nibs.

One I'm not willing to dress any closer, but three days in the case with the sponge and the sponge is dry and the ends aren't sharp anymore.

The Rosewood boards also oxidize rapidly and start turning gray. I treat them with mineral oil when I change strings. I don't think that really does anything to moisturize the wood as some say, but it takes the gray off.

Tampa - thing is, where I live no one has air conditioning. You can keep the indoor atmosphere fairly stable in the winter, but not in the summer. The humidity can go from 40% (that's high here) to 1% in four hours. It can take its toll, even indoors.
Really? Man that's pretty dry 40% is very low here. We get that type of humidity in the winter, in the summer it's 80-90% and hot as hell. We would die without air conditioning. Yeah sponge in the case is pretty much a must when it's that dry.


Pete
 

River

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Really? Man that's pretty dry 40% is very low here. We get that type of humidity in the winter, in the summer it's 80-90% and hot as hell. We would die without air conditioning. Yeah sponge in the case is pretty much a must when it's that dry.


Pete
Early this morning it was 12%. It's currently 4%.
 

freddarl82

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I recently moved back to Colorado and was wondering about this, too (Current conditions 78 degrees and humidity 10%) - I live at 7400 feet. I like to keep my guitars out, either on hangers or stands. Will the dry conditions cause problems over time? I was thinking of buying a humidifier to keep in the "Music Room." I'm probably most concerned about my '94 Martin Acoustic (I bought it when I lived in Colorado before - it moved to TX in 2001 and spent the last 9 1/2 years there). Would it be fully dried out from the first 7 years it previously spent in Colorado, i.e. if everything seems OK now, it's not likely to change anymore going forward?
 

River

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I recently moved back to Colorado and was wondering about this, too (Current conditions 78 degrees and humidity 10%) - I live at 7400 feet. I like to keep my guitars out, either on hangers or stands. Will the dry conditions cause problems over time? I was thinking of buying a humidifier to keep in the "Music Room." I'm probably most concerned about my '94 Martin Acoustic (I bought it when I lived in Colorado before - it moved to TX in 2001 and spent the last 9 1/2 years there). Would it be fully dried out from the first 7 years it previously spent in Colorado, i.e. if everything seems OK now, it's not likely to change anymore going forward?
They all have their personalities, and I don't worry at all about my solid-bodies, except the one with the frets that start creeping out. That's the only one with a finished one-piece board/neck, btw, which is interesting. :hmm:

And I don't worry about the Guild jazz box, only because it's lived this way for fifty years already. But it's got a sponge in the case when it goes in there.

I would not take any chances with an acoustic - I'd humidify the room (impractical for me) or keep it cased with a sponge or humidifier. Teledog had one of his just up and crack.

Are we neighbors now?
 

freddarl82

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Well, sort of...we're in Monument, north of Colorado Springs. Give me a ring if you ever head up here to the " big city." :)
 

River

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Well, sort of...we're in Monument, north of Colorado Springs. Give me a ring if you ever head up here to the " big city." :)
I will do that. That's about as close to neighbors as I ever expect anyone here to get.
 

Lowdown

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I would not take any chances with an acoustic - I'd humidify the room (impractical for me) or keep it cased with a sponge or humidifier. Teledog had one of his just up and crack.
+1 on that.
Acoustics hate dry weather and will show you just how much too.
Don't chance it.
Try the sponge as River does or get one of those soundhole humidifier things that you drop in(think I saw stewmac sell them as well the Bay).
I have a beautiful Maton acoustic that had the neck heel lift after a dry day.
Was not a nice feeling at all to find it. :(
 

freddarl82

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Thanks for the advice. I think I will keep the Martin in the case (I already have one of the soundhole humidifiers laying around someplace) and leave the solidbodies on the hangers.

(Not so) ironically, when I bought the guitar from a Martin dealer in Colorado Springs, I got a pretty good deal on it because it had a repaired crack running along the top from the bridge to the edge near the endpin (from the dry Colorado conditions). The shop was also a Martin authorized repair center and did a nice job.

I guess the gist of my original question was, is there a point where a guitar (17 years old in this case) reaches a point where it is "as dry as it's going to get" and therefore not prone to further complications? OTOH, I suppose the humidifier is cheap insurance...
 

zslane

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...is there a point where a guitar (17 years old in this case) reaches a point where it is "as dry as it's going to get" and therefore not prone to further complications?
Sure, until a goodly degree of humidity sets in and your guitar rehydrates on you.
 

River

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I guess the gist of my original question was, is there a point where a guitar (17 years old in this case) reaches a point where it is "as dry as it's going to get" and therefore not prone to further complications? OTOH, I suppose the humidifier is cheap insurance...
Academically, I would think a guitar from the desert could go back to the desert without its fret ends creeping out, even if it lived in the tropics for a few years.

Academically.
 


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