3 Ways to Keep Your Guitar Happy This Winter

By December 5, 2011Lessons

Martin is happy because the humidity level is 50%

This is your annual reminder to take the necessary steps to keep your guitar happy this winter. You see, Jack Frost can be quite mean-spirited. He likes to make the air very dry, which can have a negative effect on your instruments.

The dryness of the air will dry out the wood, which can lead to shrinking, warping, and cracking. If you happen to live in a part of the country that experiences significant humidity changes during the winter, this post is for you.

There are a few simple things you can do to keep your guitar at the right humidity level, which for most guitars is between about 45-55% humidity.

1.) Buy a room humidifier for wherever your instrument spends the most time. As an aside, *THIS SHOULD NOT BE YOUR CAR. I use one with a built-in humidistat so I can set it at exactly 50%. I use distilled water, because otherwise the humidifier gets gunked up, and I’ve experienced a dusty sediment that covers everything in the room when using tap water. There are other water purification options, though. That is your call.

2.) Use a small instrument humidifier that resides in your instrument’s case, and make sure it is always damp. For tips on how to purchase or make your own guitar humidifier, check out this video I did a couple years ago. There is also some great additional information there, such as how to tell if your guitar is too dry.

3. Pack up your things and move to a warmer, more guitar-friendly climate. As I’m writing this, the humidity level is 49% in San Diego (perfect), 60% in Nashville (I can live with that), and 78% in Orlando (too much humidity is generally less damaging than too little-with the exception of submersion). This third tip is perhaps unrealistic, so I strongly encourage tips 1 and 2.

Happy humidifying!

*Leaving your guitar in your car, especially in the winter, is a dangerous game to play. Not only is the humidity an issue, but extreme changes in temperature cause the wood to rapidly shrink or expand. This can make the would crack, or can lead to the glued parts of your guitar becoming separated. If you slip up and forget, which we all do at some point, bring the guitar into the house, but don’t open the case for 24 hours. This will give the guitar a change to gradually get back to room temperature.



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  • Matt Logan says:

    Holy smokes, JoAnn! Windchill of 2?! That’s brutal. Thanks for the comment. Great point about tuning often and letting the guitar get adjusted to room temperature.

  • JoAnn Jordan says:

    Such timely types! This morning’s windchill was 2. So, I load the guitar as I get in the car and remove it as soon as I get to my site. I open the case & let it adjust to the room temperature while I set-up for my session. Then I tune. This time of year, it is common for me to need to do this during sessions, too. I need to purchase a humidifier for my guitar when it s in the case. Thanks for the reminder.

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