Humidify That Acoustic Guitar: Part I
By Chad VanRens, Guitar Repair Technician at White House of Music
It’s been a few days since you last played your acoustic guitar. You eagerly pick it up, and as you prepare to strum that first chord you see it–a six-inch long crack in your guitar’s top. You stare at your guitar trying to figure out how that could have happened. You’re positive that it wasn’t cracked just a couple of days ago. How could it crack so suddenly seemingly all on its own? The answer: dryness. That’s right, your guitar has dried out resulting in a nasty crack that you’ve got to get repaired. Even more disappointing, it’s not covered by the guitar’s warranty because it’s not a manufacturer defect. This doesn’t have to happen to your guitar. There is an easy way of keeping your guitar from drying out and staying in great shape for years to come.
Why Does a Guitar Dry Out?
Winter in Wisconsin is the time of year when your guitar will dry out. As soon as the temperature outside first falls low enough that you start running the furnace in your house to stay warm, your guitar will start to dry. In a matter of just a few days your guitar can begin to suffer from the ravages of dryness. Why does this happen? The furnace begins to dry out the air in your house. That dry air is greedy for moisture, and it’s going to find it where ever it can. It will even draw the moisture out of the wood of your acoustic guitar. When too much moisture is lost, the wood begins to shrink. This can drastically alter the overall geometry of your guitar causing excessively low or excessively high action. It can also result in cracks, open seams, loose braces, neck warping, and can even cause the bridge to come unglued from the guitar’s top.
Any of these problems can be expensive to repair. But they are avoidable if you follow a few very simple guidelines and spend just a few minutes each week maintaining your guitar. All you need to do is humidify your guitar, and it’s very easy to do. You only need to know two things: when and how. My next post will fill in the details so you can proactively protect your guitar this year – the right way.