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Humidity - Is your acoustic guitar protected?
If you own an acoustic guitar, especially a higher end model made of solid wood -- not laminate, or "plywood" -- then you really need to take steps to protect your guitar. During the winter months we all run a furnace of some kind to heat our homes, and whether it's gas, electric or space heater the results are all the same, it dries out the air in your home drastically.
Do you ever notice in the winter your skin and lips are always dry? And that wet sponge you did the dishes with last night and left on the sink, the next morning is bone dry? The same thing is happening to your guitar.
Cold temperatures alone dry the air out considerably, but running a heater of any kind adds to that significantly. The optimal humidity level for an acoustic guitar is between 40% and 60% depending on the temperature it's being stored at.
Guitars are made of wood. So obviously too much humidity is a bad thing. (Never take your guitar in the shower with you! haha) But not enough humidity can be just as damaging. Glue joints can dry out and separate, and solid wood can just split out of nowhere.
The easiest way to prevent this and preserve your guitar is to purchase a guitar humidifier, keep the humidifier in the guitar throughout the winter season, and keep the guitar in the case at all times when it is not being played.
There are many humidifiers on the market ranging from $15 to $45 dollars. It is my experience that the humidifier which is placed inside your guitar produces the best results over one that sits in the case.
The best option is to get a good quality humidifier which is placed inside the guitar, and a hygrometer, a device which measures relative humidity levels. If you can keep the guitar in the case, buy a small hygrometer which will fit in the case with the guitar. If you must leave your guitar out on display on a stand, or on the wall, then get a good hygrometer to mount on the wall of that room and use a room humidifier (like mom put in your room filled with water and mentholated rub when you were a kid and got sick), check the humidity level daily, and adjust the humidifier accordingly.
You may be spending a little money now, but believe me, taking these steps will save you a LOT of money in the long run. I have seen many split tops on very expensive acoustic guitars. While sometimes the repairs can be made almost invisible, the integrity of the wood is compromised, which affects the tone of the guitar and leaves the door open for more splits, repairs, etc. in the future.
Call your local guitar store and ask for the Accessory Department to get what you need to make it through this and all of the coming winter seasons. Look at it this way, it's a $15 to $45 dollar insurance policy - - and how much did you pay for that guitar?
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