Dansm's Acoustic Page

Humidity and Your Guitar
Humidity is an extremely important concern when dealing with your acoustic guitar. If humidity levels are incorrect (either too high or too low), your guitar could warp, crack, or otherwise deform. Keeping humidity constant doesn't have to be difficult, however. This page will discuss maintaining humidity levels in order to maintain the beauty and sound of your guitar.

The relative humidity of the air surrounding your guitar should be between 40% and 60%. Obviously, if you store your guitar in a stand, then the guitar is subject to whatever humidity the outside air happens to be. This is fine if the humidity outside happens to stay around 50%, but in most cases you will want more control over humidity. I had a problem with my Washburn during winters because the humidity in my dorm room is extremely low, and the neck was warping. The solution is to store it in the case, where you can easily control the humidity by using a homemade humidifier. The volume of air inside your case is small, and your case is relatively airtight, so controlling humidity in such a small volume is easy.
Making a Humidifier
This section will explain how to make an inexpensive humidifier out of simple household items. You won't need to go out and buy anything special for this! Once you make it, you just suspend it inside the soundhole and keep the case closed, and your humidity problems will disappear! Read on to learn how to make your own humidifier. Kids: ask your parents for help before trying this!!!!

The basic idea of this humidifier is to take a plastic bottle, put a ton of holes in it, then put a damp sponge inside it. Put it inside of your guitar and let it evaporate. The string allows you to pull the humidifier back out (which is a bonus if you plan on getting a good sound from your guitar ever again). Add water to the sponge every couple of days, and you are set! Let's get started. First collect the stuff you will need.

Items You Will Need:

  • small plastic bottle, able to fit into soundhole
  • kitchen sponge
  • string
  • thin nail & pliers
  • candle
  • X-acto knife (optional)
  • Any small plastic container will work, as long as you can fit it inside the soundhole without taking your strings off. Prescription drug containers will work, as will small bottles of Tylenol (or whatever). Just make sure it is large enough to hold enough sponge to actually hold some water.
    OK, now that you have all the stuff, you are ready to begin! First, you must put the holes in the plastic container. To do this, we will hold the nail with pliers and heat the tip in the flame of a candle. Kids: ask your parents for help before trying this!!!! Once the nail is hot, just poke it through the plastic wherever you want a hole. With a little practice this should be easy. Decide beforehand what type of pattern you want to create. Make sure you also drill a hole in the top to tie the string onto. Basically, the more holes the better as long as the bottle will still stay together. You don't want holes large enough so that damp sponge will accidentally come in contact with your guitar body, so keep the holes small.

    When I did this, I had a problem with the plastic charring and turning black around the edges of the holes. The plastic also formed long threads that dried as I was pulling the nail out of the hole I had just made. To get rid of these, I scraped the holes with an X-acto knife. Kids: ask your parents for help before trying this!!!! It took a while to clean it up, but eventually it looked OK.

    Next, take the string and cut a piece about 30-40 inches long. Put it through the hole you drilled in the top, and make a knot large enough to keep it from pulling through the hole. You could also tape or glue the string to ensure that it doesn't slide through the hole.

    Finally, take the sponge (preferably when it is dry), and cut it so it fits inside the bottle. Don't make it so large that you have to squeeze it to fit inside, because then it won't hold much water. Cut it just large enough to touch the sides.
    Now you're finished! Just add a little water (don't make the sponge soaking wet, because it will ruin your guitar), and put it inside your guitar. Whenever you have the humidifier in place, be gentle with your guitar because it could dent the inside of the guitar if you bang it around too much. Common sense should take you far when dealing with your humidifier. Good luck with this, and I hope it helps keep your guitar in tip-top shape!
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    1997 Daniel E. Smith. Last updated 7-2-97