Now Playing: Proper Instrument Care & Humidification
Proper Instrument Care & Humidification
As the cooler, dryer weather of winter moves in, you’ll need to pay more than the usual attention to caring for your musical instruments. In this issue, we are going to give you the best tips on how to keep your precious wood instruments in top condition.
CF Martin’s D-16GT Dreadnought Series 16 Gloss Top, (solid Sitka Spruce top)
One of the most important things you can do for your instrument is to wash your hands before picking it up to play. Oil and salty sweat from your hands can mar the surface and build up on your guitar strings, shortening their life. To remove dust, light surface dirt and fingerprints, I recommend Mist and Wipe Finish Enhancer by Meguiars. Meguiars makes car polish for Ferraris and made this formula for racy guitars! This is a very light, water - based cleaner which is suitable for most guitar finishes. If your guitar is factory new, then you will want to wait before using anything heavier than this such as a polish or wax. This is because natural wood still needs time to “breathe”. If you seal your guitar too early, it will not cure and age properly.
Once the guitar is adequately aged, (this can take about year), you can consider applying a more substantial wax especially designed for the guitar’s finished wood surface. Planet Waves makes a two step system called Restore which is a deep cleaning cream polish and Protect which contains Carnauba wax. The Restore really removes deep down dirt, grime and even minor scratches to reveal a mirror like shine. The Protect Wax as the second step seals the shine with Brazilian Carnauba. The results are quite impressive.
Solid body guitars like this
Aria Pro II Strat react somewhat
less to humidity changes
Next to keeping your instrument clean and grime free, the most important step as the winter season creeps in is to make sure proper humidification is maintained. We all know how important this is but are seldom given any comprehensive way of accomplishing it. There are even new guitar models with built in hydrometers. Personally I think that is a bit of overkill. A general rule of thumb goes by where you live. Most states in the northeast seldom have humidity drop below 40%. It happens but it is not the steady norm. If you live in the Southeast, you are more likely to run into problems with high humidity, not low. In this case you will need to use a silica pack product which absorbs excess moisture similar to what you find packed with new shoes. In either zone, remember that indoor heating and air conditioning systems are going to be the defining factor. Keep in mind also that solid body instruments such as electric guitars without soundholes are going to be a bit more stable even with fluctuating humidity levels.
How much moisture does my instrument need?
Ideally, optimum humidification of your instruments is around 45-50%. Too low humidity causes the wood to shrink and you will notice the strings going out of tune because the sound board has shrunken. If you strings need constant tightening, it could mean that your guitar is drying out. On the other hand, too much humidity causes the wood to swell and expand. Therefore you’ll notice the strings needing to be loosened.
A minute amount of expansion and contraction is to be expected even under the best conditions. This is why skilled luthiers make the backs of acoustic guitars slightly bowed out. When the wood dries, the entire back will not cave in. Still, having a system to constantly monitor and maintain optimum humidity is finally within reach.
Humidi Pak by Planet Waves
Maintains 45-50% Humidity
The Humidi Pak by Planet Waves has just taken the guess work and mess out of maintaining your instrument’s best humidity levels. The Humidi Pak system eliminates the need to refill the unit thus dispelling the possibility of water leaks and instrument damage. On the road? If your guitar spends a lot of time in its flight case in transit, then you might want to make sure that it is being properly humidified in that environment. Most in case guitar humidifiers are tedious, leak and have to be refilled. Planet Waves lets you leave all that nonsense behind with their Humidi-Pak in case humidifier.
We tested the Humidi Pak system and found it to do the job very well. It is placed directly into the sound hole while the second unit goes in the headstock area of your guitar case. We used it in a small acoustic Autoharp case and a large CF Martin Dreadnought guitar in a hardshell case. The smaller Autoharp case kept humidity at about 54% while the larger guitar case was kept at about 55.7% even when the room‘s humidity itself had dropped to 35%. Really, the best place for your instrument is its case, so you’ll want to be sure that the humidity inside is just where it should be. Planet Waves Humidi Pak is a painless way of accomplishing that. Our instruments barely needed tuning and stayed humidified even when the ambient room moisture levels dipped and rose.
The New Air O' Swiss U7142 Ultrasonic Humidifier
Proper Humidification for your voice
and your instruments!
One of the problems with the dryer winter air is the havoc it wreaks on your guitars AND your voice! One way to remedy both at the same time is to properly humidify your home or studio environment. Using a high quality whole area humidifier is the better choice if you enjoy leaving your guitars out on display and / or you have multiple instruments in one room. The New Air O' Swiss U7142 Ultrasonic humidifier is the unit we recommend for accomplishing both goals. It has a hydrometer so you can set the target humidity that you want for worry free operation. It takes care of a large room up to 860 square feet with the bonus of not only keeping multiple guitars happy but by improving the moisture and quality of the air you are breathing. Keep in mind that like your guitar, your vocal chords, (folds in fact) and nasal passages can also dry out. This makes you more prone to upper respiratory infections and colds which are serious problems for vocalists.
This unit offers cold or warm mist, the latter of which does not lower the ambient temperature of the room, a big plus during the cold winter months. An Ionic Silver Stick inhibits the growth of bacteria and a mineral cartridge helps remove calcium, rust and lime. The Air O’ Swiss has special settings for automatic night time humidification while alerting you to clean the unit which is very simple.
The large capacity tank needs far less frequent fillings and is completely transparent making water levels easily visible. A red light flashes when the water is out and the unit’s overall operation is silent. Extra features such as a dual direction jet stream allows you to send moisture in two different directions. The New Air O' Swiss U7142 Ultrasonic humidifier is feature packed. The only accessories are the replaceable Demineralization cartridge which completely eliminates white powder, and the Ionic Silver Stick® (ISS) which keeps the water germ free.
I’ve personally noticed better quality sleep with my throat and nose being much clearer upon arising. My vocals are definitely reaping the benefits as my throat is getting the proper amount of moisture while my instruments on the stands are staying in tune much longer. We’ve found the New Air O' Swiss U7142 Ultrasonic humidifier to be the best quality humidifier available that will give your instruments, your living environment and your voice the proper moisture they need.
CF Martin's D-16GT
Acoustic with Ellipse Matrix Blend Pickup
Visit Air O Swiss Online at : www.plaston.com/uc
Visit Planet Waves (Humidi-Pak, Restore & Protect Wax) at: www.planetwaves.com
Visit Meguiars (Mist & Wipe) at: www.meguiars.com
Check out CF Martin Guitars: www.martinguitar.com