Low humidity can affect your instruments

Solenco Reporter
 October 17, 2017
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When it comes to a musical instrument, whether it is a guitar, a grand piano or violin, the craftsmanship and precision it took to create is unsurpassed. Few sounds are more delightful to the ear than a well-cared for instrument that is being played.
When it comes to caring for precious instruments, humidity control ranks high on the list. Wooden instruments, especially guitars, mandolins and orchestral strings (such as violins, cellos, bass) with hollow bodies, are at risk when temperatures and humidity change quickly. Sudden decreases in temperature and humidity are especially dangerous.
Wood is an organic material that swells and contracts depending on its moisture content. Its moisture levels depend directly on the moisture levels in the air. This swelling and contraction puts tremendous stress on the instrument. When it contracts, parts of the instrument are under tension, creating a risk of cracks developing in the body or top. When your instrument’s top shrinks, it can cause the bridge to subtly curl. Fretboard shrinkage can lead to exposed fret ends. Such damage can happen in a matter of hours. Dry air can also lead to distortions in the instruments’ sound. Poor tone and improper intonation will result when an instrument is kept too long in a dry environment.
Therefore wooden instruments are extremely susceptible to the effects of dried-out air in your home, mainly caused by air conditioning in summer or heaters in winter where the moisture is sucked right out of the air. Since windows are closed to contain heat or air conditioning, there is no moisture from outside to balance the dryness.
As with too dry air, air that contains too much moisture can cause the wood to swell and present the same problems that occur under dry conditions with tuning and playability.
humidifier equipped with a humidistat (a sensor that measures a room’s relative humidity) such as the PCMH45 can help prevent humidity levels from dropping to low or becoming too high. Humidity levels between 50 and 55% are recommended.
Should you live in an area that suffers from high humidity, then of course your best option to maintain a target relative humidity of between 50 and 55% would be a dehumidifier. The main difference between a humidifier and dehumidifier is that that humidifier adds moisture to a dry environment, and a dehumidifier removes excess moisture from a damp and humid environment. Both these units have a humidistat that you can control the humidity levels in your home and prolong the life of your wooden instruments.
For more information, contact us at 0861 388 878 or email us at info@solencosa.co.za

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