Acoustic guitars are carefully constructed from thin pieces of solid wood joined together by glue and these are directly affected by changes in temperature and humidity; the more extreme the change, the greater the reaction.
It is important to understand and be mindful that in climates where there are extremes in temperature and humidity additional precautions must be taken to ensure the proper care of your instrument. Lowden guitars are built in a carefully controlled humidity environment that varies between 45% and 55% relative humidity, providing optimum worldwide stability.
Maintaining your guitar’s humidity environment within this range will ensure optimal performance, playability and durability. Humidity levels can be monitored with a hygrometer, ask your dealer for advice and availability.
EFFECTS OF TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY[+]
Temperature has a direct affect on the moisture content in the air. In general, in warmer weather the air can absorb more moisture – which results in higher relative humidity, causing the wood to swell. In the winter months, the air holds less moisture and additional factors such as central heating will dry the air even further, lowering relative humidity and causing the wood to shrink.
Rapid changes are the most hazardous for your guitar, in order to avoid damage; it is best to keep your guitar insulated in its case. Should your guitar be exposed to extreme cold – let it warm up to room temperature before opening its case to avoid any potential damage.
SYMPTOMS OF A DRY GUITAR[+]
The consequences of low humidity conditions are arguably more severe than those of humid conditions and it is important to be aware and mindful of the symptoms to look out for. In dry conditions (less than 40% relative humidity) wood will shrink.
The following are signs that you need to immediately remedy and seek advice about the humidity environment of your guitar:
•The soundboard begins to drop, lowering the action, which may cause buzzing of the strings against the frets.
•The fingerboard shrinks leaving the fret ends feeling sharp and protruding from the edge of the fingerboard.
•Lacquer checks can begin to appear where the wood is joined, and is a warning sign that your guitar is suffering from environmental stress. In the more severe cases – cracks in the wood itself may appear; an authorised technician should attend to these as soon as possible.
•The Bridge begins to separate from the soundboard: in a severely dried out guitar, the bridge may lift off completely.
•Keeping your guitar in its case – this will help safeguard it not only from damage but will also provide a more stable humidity environment by insulating your guitar.
•Humidifying your environment – purchasing a room humidifier will help towards maintaining acceptable humidity levels. Humidifying your guitar –purchasing a guitar humidifier will help increase your guitar’s humidity content whilst in its case. Please note: It is very important to carefully adhere to manufacturer’s instructions to avoid any possibility of water damage. Alternatively, you can place some humidifiers in the accessory pocket of your case. Do not hesitate to ask us (or your dealer) for advice.
SYMPTOMS OF A WET GUITAR[+]
High humidity situations (above 75%) are more difficult to control but the consequences are arguably not potentially as severe. In high humidity, your guitar will absorb excess moisture, swell and expand. The following are signs that you need to immediately remedy and seek advice about the humidity environment of your guitar:
•The sound of your guitar may begin to sound ‘tight’, restricted with a possible loss of bass and volume.
•The soundboard begins to rise, raising the action making it unwieldy or even unplayable.
•The lacquer to check
•The bracing may become apparent where the top is glued to the internal structure of the guitar.
•The glue can weaken and the bridge and/or bindings can lift and separate.
•Keep your guitar insulated in its case However, please note that the lining of your case can also soak up moisture so it is important to air it out regularly –NEVER leave it or your guitar in the direct sun or too close to a source of heat.
•Air conditioning can help dry the air and reduce humidity in your home. Common sense precautions and paying attention to your guitar will ensure that you notice any changes and act upon them before damage can occur.
Your guitar is most susceptible to the affects of changes in humidity and temperature during the first several months of its life. Every guitar settles in with time and small changes can take place to the action and neck profile whilst your guitar is settling into its new environment. Being mindful of your guitar’s environment during this ‘settling in’ period will minimise the impact of unfavourable conditions and keep your guitar playing and sounding its best.