Humidity: How to Protect Against The #1 Guitar Enemy

Protecting Your Acoustic Guitar against the Effects of Humidity

The vast majority of acoustic guitars are made from wood. As wood is a natural, organic substance, it is subject to changes brought on by heat and humidity. Because of this, it is critical to ensure that your instrument is protected from the potential ravages of extreme heat or cold and too much (or too little) humidity.

The rule of thumb is simply this: Do not store your guitar in a situation where you would not be comfortable.

Humidity – Guitar Enemy Number One

If you live in a house with electric heat, even if you call an apartment your home, you should be extra observant about the heat and humidity level of your living space. Both excessive and insufficient humidity can warp your guitar and/or cause your guitar’s sound to deteriorate. In a situation where there is too much humidity, the wood will become saturated and the ringing sound you love will be replaced with a dull thud. If it continues, your guitar may strain or break from stress on the seams and the joints. This is, of course, more likely in areas where high humidity is a frequent or constant issue.

Far more frequent is an overly dry interior during the cold of winter. Excessive exposure to a cold and dry climate will cause your guitar to lose its resonance. Its finish may start to crack and glaze and being overly dry can even cause the fretboard to separate from the neck.

Simple Solutions – Humidifiers and Hygrometers

A humidifier is not just for sick people, it can be great for your guitar as well. It is best to keep your guitar in its case unless you are playing it, but if you choose to display your guitar on a stand or a wall mount, a humidifier will be particularly helpful.  You have the option of buying a guitar humidifier at many music shops. These are very handy and portable and especially useful for touring musicians. They attach directly to the sound hole or f-hole of your guitar. If you don’t tour and/or you are on a tight budget, a whole room humidifier can be found at variety, drug and hardware stores all over, and are usually reasonably priced. It’s a very good second option.

Another extremely useful tool is a hygrometer, which measures the humidity in a room. Like humidifiers, hygrometers for guitars are widely available. Some guitar cases actually include a hygrometer as part of the package. Also like guitar humidifiers, guitar hygrometers are small and portable. In fact, combination units are widely available. Check your local music shop to see what they have for you. If you are a touring musician, the portable version is highly recommended. Once again, if you are not a travelling musician, or you are on a tight budget, a decent second option is to purchase a home hygrometer. You can find one at a cigar shop or hardware store.

With just these two simple tools to help you pay attention to heat and humidity levels, your guitar will last for a very long time.