By Chad VanRens, Guitar Repair Technician at White House of Music
My last post explained why acoustic guitars might be damaged by drying out, and in some cases they can even crack. Finding a crack in your acoustic is an unwelcome surprise for any guitarist. Fortunately, knowing when and how to protect your guitar can prevent cracks and keep your guitar in great playing shape all year round. The secret is humidifying your instrument in the right way at the right time.
When should I use a guitar humidifier?
Begin humidifying your guitar when you start using your furnace to keep the house warm. Here in Wisconsin, this will usually be late October or early November. Stop using your humidifier when you turn the furnace off for the spring, typically in April. If you’re taking your guitar to a very dry climate like Colorado or Arizona, use the case humidifier all year long. If you’re in a very humid climate like Florida, you won’t need it. If in doubt, check with the local guitar shop for advice.
How should I humidify my guitar?
You can humidify your guitar very easily with a simple guitar case humidifier. Even if you have a room humidifier running in your home during the winter, you’ll still need a guitar case humidifier. There are a variety of these on the market, and they are all relatively inexpensive, usually less than $20. The humidifiers made by John Pearse or C.F. Martin work great. They are typically a rubber tube with a sponge inside. Here’s how to use them:
1. Soak the humidifier in water for a few minutes, then wring it out really well.
2. Wipe the outside of the humidifier dry.
3. Hang the humidifier inside the sound hole of your guitar by suspending it between any two strings whenever you are putting your guitar away for the day.
You’ll also need to remoisten the humidifier periodically–once or twice per week in most cases. There is one catch: you need to keep your guitar in its case when you’re not playing it. This will allow the moisture to evaporate from the sponge and be absorbed by the guitar. If you keep your guitar out on display, the furnace-dried air in your house will simply steal all the moisture before your guitar can get a hold of it.
Keeping your acoustic guitar stored in its case with a moist case humidifier can help keep your guitar from developing that sudden surprise crack. It’s easy to do, and taking a just a few moments a week to maintain your prized guitar will keep it out of the repair shop and in your hands where you can enjoy it.