Dried out acoustic guitar

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Jaguar018
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Dried out acoustic guitar

Post by Jaguar018 » Wed Jan 13, 2021 7:19 am

A month ago or so I saw a (relatively) fancy acoustic guitar for sale from a private seller. We agreed on a price and I have 'right of first refusal' if someone else comes sniffing around. Now I have to come up with the funds. :squint: I decided that I can sell my not-quite-as-fancy Martin acoustic to get to that magic $$$ amount.

Took my guitar to one of the decent stores around here thinking I could sell it on commission, but they aren't doing that these days with Covid-19 still in full swing. The store is currently appointment only, so no foot traffic.

They instantly spotted something I was oblivious of: the bridge was coming up and the wood was bowing right around it because the guitar was so dry. :(

So they are going to keep it for a week, try and get it humidified properly and then reassess. Urg.

I'm glad that I took it to the store; I was mulling over selling it on Reverb, and if the seller discovered that same issue it could have been a disaster.

In the meantime I'm getting a humidifier for my little office where all my gear is jammed into.

The thirsty guitar in question:
Image

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Re: Dried out acoustic guitar

Post by Larry Mal » Wed Jan 13, 2021 7:33 am

Well, get a hygrometer, and keep an eye on that. Your guitar (and you) want humidity around 40-50%.

Here's a little article Taylor wrote about it.

Your guitar doesn't care if the humidity is in the room or the case, but really, just humidify your home or office room.

I run humidifiers at home throughout winter and somewhat in summer when AC takes a lot of humidity out (if needed).

I also have these in my guitars.

If you can get the room stable at 50% or so, you don't need those.

There are some thing that look like little pillows that claim to regulate humidity, by pulling it when there's too much and adding it when there's not enough.

Do not use these. They tell you to put them in the guitar, and they can fail catastrophically, leaking water all over the inside of your guitar.

Hope this helps. Can't wait to see the new guitar! I, too, am a fancy man.
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Re: Dried out acoustic guitar

Post by mbene085 » Wed Jan 13, 2021 7:49 am

I've been a religious humidifier for many years, ever since a Taylor 114ce I owned split down the middle of the soundboard because of my negligence. It was hanging on the wall and I heard this massive CRACK followed by the ringing of strings. It was a heartbreaking sound.

I humidify in the 37-42% range with a hygrometer that's been calibrated via the saltwater method - you seal it in a bag with a small cap/container of salt that has been wet just enough to produce a slurry. Leave that for a day and it'll be exactly 75% humidity in there, allowing you to calibrate your hygrometer (if it's adjustable).

Here in Canada, if you try to humidify to 50% in the dead of winter you'll end up with sweating windows.

It's also important for your electric guitars to be humidified. Fret sprout is annoying and/or expensive to fix.

If you've got hardwood floors or nice furniture, they'll be much happier in a humidified home, as will your sinuses.

Get a cool mist humidifier. The ultrasonic ones deposit mineral dust on surfaces unless you use distilled water, and the warm mist ones can easily form condensation on metal in particular, like guitar hardware.

I use a console-type from Honeywell that has served me well for many years. I've owned three different Honeywell cool mist humidifiers and they've all performed well, so that's what I stick with.

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Re: Dried out acoustic guitar

Post by Jaguar018 » Wed Jan 13, 2021 9:02 am

Thanks guys.

I live right outside DC, so it's pretty humid here for most of the year. We even have a humidifier thing on our forced air heater-- but it's not exactly space age technology.

Humidifier is on the way, and I'm looking into getting some bigger humidifiers for the rest of the house as my wife has sinus/allergy issues.

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Re: Dried out acoustic guitar

Post by papa_hotel_delta » Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:10 pm

I'm admit I'm surprised this happened in DC, pretty damn humid place, so I'm guessing its the AC? I lived maybe 175 miles south of DC for 3 years and never needed a humidifier, almost the opposite - acoustics sounded dead and furry most of the summer.

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Re: Dried out acoustic guitar

Post by Jaguar018 » Mon Jan 25, 2021 7:01 am

papa_hotel_delta wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:10 pm
I'm admit I'm surprised this happened in DC, pretty damn humid place, so I'm guessing its the AC? I lived maybe 175 miles south of DC for 3 years and never needed a humidifier, almost the opposite - acoustics sounded dead and furry most of the summer.
AC is forced air, so I guess that is a big part of it. All my gear is (surprise surprise) down in the basement. For the first few years we've had this house we had minor flooding issues, but I guess I should be proud that those seem to have been resolved with the various efforts made.

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Re: Dried out acoustic guitar

Post by Jaguar018 » Mon Jan 25, 2021 7:03 am

The guitar responded well to the humidification and the shop bought it-- for a bit more than I was expecting-- so I'm going to be picking up this 'new' guitar today if all goes well. :w00t:

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Re: Dried out acoustic guitar

Post by seenoevil II » Mon Jan 25, 2021 8:24 am

Also, bridge lifting isn't necessarily a humidity issue. I don't really know what humidifying it will accomplish. The bridge was likely not glued properly at the factory. That or a brace under the bridge or the string pad had come loose. This thing needs a Luthier with glue and clamps, not a sauna.

Edit: that's cool. Congrats. I hope they sort it out before selling it on.
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Re: Dried out acoustic guitar

Post by PorkyPrimeCut » Mon Jan 25, 2021 8:25 am

So, I guess, round about now, I should be paying attention. There's lots of talk about this on another thread & I'll be honest, the thought of humidity (or lack of) being a problem in East Germany has never crossed my mind.

My go-to guitar - an old acoustic - has been sat out of its case in the living room for 2 years now, and for a similar amount of time in London. It doesn't even have a hard-shell case to store it in.

Here in Leipzig relative humidity is between 70 & 80% all year round. In London it was very similar, between 60 & 80%. Obviously we also had central heating for around 6 months of the year.

Anyone else out there living in similar conditions? If so, what's recommended?
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Re: Dried out acoustic guitar

Post by Larry Mal » Mon Jan 25, 2021 8:31 am

PorkyPrimeCut wrote:
Mon Jan 25, 2021 8:25 am

Here in Leipzig relative humidity is between 70 & 80% all year round. In London it was very similar, between 60 & 80%. Obviously we also had central heating for around 6 months of the year.
The problem is that the humidity outside isn't necessarily the humidity inside. Looking at the 70-80% figures you would think that de-humidifying would be the issue, but if you are running forced air heat (without a built in humidifier), radiator heat, or air conditioning then all of those things will be removing humidity from your immediate environment.

There's really no way to make any kind of decision other than having measurements of the environment your guitars are actually in, so you would need to get a hygrometer.

St. Louis is having a wet and mild winter, we have sweltering and humid summers every year, we often have bone dry winters with the temperatures locked well below freezing, and spring and fall are always pleasant. But you have to keep a loose eye on all that stuff.
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Re: Dried out acoustic guitar

Post by PorkyPrimeCut » Mon Jan 25, 2021 8:35 am

Larry Mal wrote:
Mon Jan 25, 2021 8:31 am
...get a hygrometer...
Quick reply! Thanks.

I actually came straight back to mention hygrometers (after reading about them on another webpage). It seems to be the way to go & 10 Euros well spent, by the looks of things.
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Re: Dried out acoustic guitar

Post by Larry Mal » Mon Jan 25, 2021 8:37 am

Jaguar018 wrote:
Mon Jan 25, 2021 7:03 am
The guitar responded well to the humidification and the shop bought it-- for a bit more than I was expecting-- so I'm going to be picking up this 'new' guitar today if all goes well. :w00t:
Congratulations.

And yes, the humidity can absolutely cause the bridge to become loose. Too much humidity and the top bellies up, too little humidity and the top sinks in. Either can cause the bridge to loosen to some degree or the other.

Here's a great resource:

Symptoms of a Dry Guitar

There's a lot of good information there but:

When we make a guitar, the wood first is dried, or “seasoned,” and acclimated to a certain moisture content. As a result, all guitars leave the factory in the same condition, and all will react more or less the same when exposed to changes in humidity.

Our factory is climate-controlled to maintain a temperature of 74 degrees and a relative humidity of 47 percent. This consistency causes the wood to equalize at a specified moisture content ideal for building guitars. As the wood’s moisture content changes, so does the size of the wood. Spruce, in particular, shrinks and expands a tremendous amount as it gains and loses moisture. For example, let’s say we condition a spruce top in a room that is 47 percent RH, and then cut that spruce to a width of 16 inches. If we then were to lower the room’s RH to 30 percent, that same piece of spruce would shrink to 15.9 inches in width — shrinkage of almost 1/8 of an inch! If, instead, we were to raise the room’s RH to 60 percent, the spruce would swell to 16.06 inches, an expansion of almost 1/16 of an inch. While our wood drying and conditioning methods minimize this movement, wood is still wood, so even after it becomes a guitar, significant fluctuations in humidity will cause the wood to shrink or grow.

The reason we prefer 47 percent RH is because it is a very “normal” or “median” humidity. When built at that RH level, a guitar can be exposed to more or less humidity and still perform well. The more extreme the temperature and/or humidity fluctuations, the sooner the guitar will be adversely affected.

The good news is that your guitar can be protected from many changes simply by storing it in its case, which will help protect the guitar and slow down the ravages of low humidity. If it does become too dry, both its moisture content and its shape can be restored by exposing it to humidity. A guitar humidifier accomplishes this very well.


Bear in mind that your flat top guitar isn't actually flat, acoustic guitars are actually have radiused tops usually in the range of 20-40'. It's important to maintain that radius.
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Re: Dried out acoustic guitar

Post by Larry Mal » Mon Jan 25, 2021 8:41 am

PorkyPrimeCut wrote:
Mon Jan 25, 2021 8:35 am
Larry Mal wrote:
Mon Jan 25, 2021 8:31 am
...get a hygrometer...
Quick reply! Thanks.

I actually came straight back to mention hygrometers (after reading about them on another webpage). It seems to be the way to go & 10 Euros well spent, by the looks of things.
Glad it was helpful. Having never been to Liepzig (or Europe), I would have guessed that there would have been pretty serious freezing winters there.
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Re: Dried out acoustic guitar

Post by PorkyPrimeCut » Mon Jan 25, 2021 9:01 am

Larry Mal wrote:
Mon Jan 25, 2021 8:41 am
PorkyPrimeCut wrote:
Mon Jan 25, 2021 8:35 am
Larry Mal wrote:
Mon Jan 25, 2021 8:31 am
...get a hygrometer...
Quick reply! Thanks.

I actually came straight back to mention hygrometers (after reading about them on another webpage). It seems to be the way to go & 10 Euros well spent, by the looks of things.
Glad it was helpful. Having never been to Liepzig (or Europe), I would have guessed that there would have been pretty serious freezing winters there.
Definitely colder than London & a few degrees colder than what I remember in Northern England. But nothing crazy cold, thanks no doubt to global warming. We've had a few nights recently that have hit minus 7 and that's considered to be a bit of a rarity.
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Re: Dried out acoustic guitar

Post by Larry Mal » Mon Jan 25, 2021 9:40 am

PorkyPrimeCut wrote:
Mon Jan 25, 2021 9:01 am


Definitely colder than London & a few degrees colder than what I remember in Northern England. But nothing crazy cold, thanks no doubt to global warming. We've had a few nights recently that have hit minus 7 and that's considered to be a bit of a rarity.
Even during my lifetime I've seen what are probably the effects of global warming. We used to have real winters here, with snow for great stretches of the winter, I remember as a kid always seeing the green shoots from the ice and snow when it finally would melt and I knew that spring was coming.

Now it's just gray, and cold rain falls a lot, and the plant life looks less like it's shut down for winter expecting a rebirth but more like they are simply pummeled by it. I preferred the winter and the snow to this.

St. Louis has always been hot during summer, but even that has changed.

The NYT did an article a while back where you could enter your birth year and your home town, and it would show you the amount of days above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) that there were during the year when one was born and today. When I was born, St. Louis could expect about 32 days over 90 degrees during summer, now that number is 44, so that's what, half of summer?

It is accompanied by extreme humidity, also. Very bad for guitars, and I have really learned to keep an eye on humidity around here for most of the year.
Back in those days, everyone knew that if you were talking about Destiny's Child, you were talking about Beyonce, LaTavia, LeToya, and Larry.

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