Humidifiers to Keep You in TuneWritten by Duncan under Dehumidifiers, Desiccant, General, Humidifiers | No Comments
If you’re in a band or an orchestra and have musical instruments in the house, you’ll be aware of how quickly they can “spontaneously” go out of tune. That’s especially the case if you live or perform in a very dry or arid environment. There are humidifiers specially made for instrument cases and some humidifiers may actually attach to or fit in the instrument, like a humidifier that fits in the soundhole of a guitar or in the f-hole of a violin. If you live in consistently moist or damp environments, or perform in halls that have that familiar “musty” odour, you may want to consider some way to dehumidify the instrument. That’s usually achieved by adding a desiccant, such as silica-gel or dry clay granules inside the instrument case (never inside the instrument itself).
If you and your instrument spend a lot of time in one particular location, like a practice room or a recording studio for example, then it’s probably worth looking at systems that will humidify or dehumidify the entire environment in which you perform. That’s particularly helpful if, as is often the case, the studios, rehearsal rooms or live venues are in basements or barely maintained village halls. If you want to find out if you need a humidifier, buy a thermohygrometer. The ideal humidity for most normal situations and to maintain your instrument in perfect tune is between 40-60% relative humidity. If the thermohygrometer reads below this you probably need a humidifier. If it reads above this you may need a dehumidifier. Dry air in these places can affect more than just your instrument. Breathing in dry air can lead to fatigue, tiredness and reduced concentration levels as well as an increased susceptibility to colds and respiratory tract complaints.
Even before you get your hands on the instrument, there are equally sound reasons to control the humidity in the music store too. Guitar woods are no longer plentiful and inexpensive and customers are increasingly asking where the wood came from and what is being done to conserve it. Most factories control their climate during manufacture and most instrument owners will keep their guitars or whatever protected in cases. It’s the retail music store that’s potentially the worst environment that a guitar or other instrument will ever experience at a time when you want them in first rate condition in order to sell them! Controlled humidity throughout the shop will benefit all guitars for example, not just acoustics. Most guitar manufacturers are also becoming very strict about returns they will take responsibility for, and are insisting on the use of humidifiers or dehumidifiers as appropriate in their retail, franchised or independent outlets.