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Humidity Affects Your Guitar

A guitar is made of thin yet strong pieces of solid wood. Let me tell you that the wood is gullible to changes in relative humidity or extremes of temperature, and since you own a guitar, it’s very important that you understand what that really means. The wood will take in more moisture from the surrounding air due to increase in humidity.This causes the wood to expand; and decrease in humidity will result in moisture being lost from the wood. Subsequently the wood will start shrinking.

Instant changes in humidity, either up or down, should be avoided at all costs, even if you think you’re living in a pretty pleasant part of the world. Living in a pleasant part of the world doesn’t really mean that we’re off the hook sadly.It is a misconception that only those who stay near deserts or mountain areas need to concern themselves about all this issue, but you would be very wrong.

Increase in humidity causes the wood of the guitar to swell. As guitars are usually made of different types of wood, the rate at which different parts of the guitar will take on moisture will always vary. Although high levels of humidity will rarely cause lasting problems, when the relative humidity levels are very high for an extended period, you will find that the glue is weakened. This would probably be most evident around the bridge.But, many times cause of major humidity issues will be lack of moisture.

Some places (countries or regions) are naturally quite dry, and if you live in these regions, you will already be aware of the implications. But regardless of where you are living, the biggest thing to remember is the concept of relative humidity, as that is one major thing that affects all of us.

Another thing that can be dangerous is air conditioning. We have found many times during exhibitions in large halls which are air conditioned, the air can be literally sucked dry. On many situations, we have observed guitar’s lacquer noticeably shrinking in these kind of environments. For example, like how our skin often feels very dry and tight after a long flight, the inherent moisture in a guitar’s tonewood can be sucked in a dry air conditioned environment.

Likewise, a similar effect can be experienced in a centrally heated house during the winter season. The weather is generally cold outside, and the humidity will be low. But on the other hand, indoors, the temperature will be quite high but, the relative humidity will be much lower. So, everyone’s guitar has experienced the above incidents many times with or without you noticing the same. But when these above mentioned situations reach its extreme levels, all form of unpleasant stuff can happen and it will ruin the guitar and even the sound of the instrument completely.
Photo by keith ellwood

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