Humidity and Your Acoustic Guitar: Get ON It! • Acoustic Tuesday 275

How many times have you been told to humidify your guitar? How do you know if you need to? What if I told you there was a simple rule to keep your guitar in good condition for generations to come?

On today’s episode, we’re talking about the **special** relationship between humidity and your acoustic guitar. You’ve likely heard plenty of horror stories about too much humidity or not enough humidity. But what’s the goldilocks range?

I’ve heard from plenty of guitar makers, players, and collectors about humidity over the years. Between temperature and humidity, there’s a safe range for almost all instruments that exists between 66–77 degrees Fahrenheit and 40-55 percent humidity.

I’ll cover why this band of ideal conditions is best for guitars. But if you’re wondering how you can maintain this temperatures and humidity best, I’ll also cover humidifiers and key signs to look out for.

Humidifying your guitar is important. If it’s not taken care of, you can damage your guitar severely. Worst case scenarios include cracking and separating. Best case scenarios are reversible changes.

Submit your guitarsenal at the link below!
https://airtable.com/shrpAVAi9HUGVUW8b 

Featured in this episode…
– Gryphon Strings  
– Bourgeois Guitars 
– Kyle Orla 
– Gwenifer Raymond  
– Bluegrass Life  

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Responses

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  1. Tony, great episode and timely topic. I use a Vornado room humidifier to enable keeping guitars out and accessible, but when I am gone for several days, they all go into cases with humidipacs (experimenting with different ones).

    So, quick question – when stroring the guitar in its case and using the humidipacs that sit over the strings in the sound hole, do you need to keep the guitar case sitting flat for the duration or is it OK to let is side on its side as you normally would?

  2. I would like to have more info concerning high humidity problems and solutions for guitars.

  3. Great info- I use D’addario Humidipac two way humidificatiion system and Therm Pro in case does temp and humidity in case.

  4. Great subject matter today. We live in WI and moved into a new house we built last year. Last winter I noticed I could feel my frets sticking out on one of the guitars so put them all in the case with the Boveda packs. I like to keep them out all the time in our loft which stays warmer in the winter so I bought the Venta you talked about. What a great machine. Now it keeps that loft between 45 and 55 percent humidity and my guitars get to stay out and are VERY happy!

  5. Great show Tony!!! You should also mention the different accessories available for MONITORING the humidity. I use Humiditrak from D’Addario — a small sensor that goes in the case and can bluetooth humidity/temp/impact to the phone app. Similarly, Taylor makes “Taylor Sense” that is a similar sensor but it is mounted to a battery holder that replaces the one that comes with most Taylor guitars. It has a very similar app. Also there are various guitar specific and general hygrometers available.

  6. Idea for a future Topic. I have a guitar that is 40 or 50 years old and I have had it all that time but know nothing about it. Played it until about 1978 and left it until about a year ago (2021) and I love the sound and look. I have a Westbury, model W2900M and serial #. Where can I go to find out more about it (woods used, inlay, and anything else? Is there some database somewhere for this type of thing? I have tried Google searches with no success. I suspect others are in the same dilemma as they get back to playing and listening to your weekly Acoustic Tuesday programs.
    Thanks
    Mike

  7. In Tuesdays episode 275 discussing humidity was very interesting. You talked about the front bowing inward. By guitar bows outward in the front and back. What does this mean?
    Thanks
    Mike

  8. This was a very informative show on Humidity for my instruments. I have heard very many different opinions of where my humidity should be. I run a minimum of 40% but typically my music room is 50%. House is 45%. I have many vintage guitars, all but one separated or cracked. I feel a lot better after watching this episode. Thanks Tony!!!!

  9. Ive been using bovida packs to preserve freshness in jars of cannabis for several years. Awesome product.

  10. Hey, Tone!!
    Multi species guitar: Mmm, maybe.
    Book club: Possibly
    Sign I recently saw: If you’re not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you’re determined to learn, no one can stop you.
    I liked it. Thought you might as well.

  11. Here’s a question I’d like to see answered. Can a damaged guitar, showing slight signs of drying out, be reversed and brought back to normal? No cracking yet, but seeing a “wavering” of the top near the bridge.

    1. BillyC,
      D’Addario makes a product I use called a Humidipak which is very similar to the Bovec(?) that Tony mentioned. They make 2 different versions. One is called Maintain, which is made for everyday humidification. The other is called Restore, which they say will help re-humidify a guitar. Don’t know if it will resolve your specific problem but would be something to investigate.

      1. I second Rando! I was going to post about the D’Addario product but saw he already had.

        When I first started with this product the sensor in the case (you can buy with a humidipak set) wouldn’t go above 25 or so — I then started using the “Restore” version and then it shot up to 45% or so, and I’m able to Maintain after that. My guitar was around 5 years old or so and wasn’t suffering damage but had dried out. I feel much better now!

  12. Thanks for the episode on humidity Tony. I learned some important things of guitars and humidity. I’ve had guitars since I was in college (early 1980’s) but never about the importance of controlling humidity for guitar until relatively recently (last 5 years). I may have been able to avoid some warping on my Takamine EF-1988 LTD had I known about guitar case humidity products. Am currently using a couple of different products for my guitars. I normally keep most them in their humidified cases until I take them out and play and only leave my $100 Yamaha and $235 Orangewood out all the time.

  13. Hey Tony, great show as usual. Lots of quality info. Curious as why you didn’t mention the D’Addario humipak system. I have over 10 acoustic guitars many vintage 50’s and 60’s Martin and Gibson. With this investment humidity and temperature are always top of mind. Living abd working in the dry winter of the north and the high humidity of the south at different times of the year I have learned thus is a very regional issue. Please nite I do not work for nor am I sponsored by D’Addario but their two way system has given me great peace of mind when I am away for extended periods. Bonus is each winter prior to the holiday season they discount replacement packs on their web site and give you credits toward other products for each purchase. Win, win. The longevity of the system is suggested to be three months, my experience is better than that when combined with our whole home humidification/dehumidification system so everyone will need to check the packs to find their own baseline. Finally for those that like to play on the beach, hot humid summer hay rides or at tree lightings on a snowy December eve leave your acoustic at home and take along a Rainsong guitar built for those circumstances plus they sound pretty good just strumming on the couch. Cheers.

  14. Hi Tony – Sorry this is a bit late for today’s show but I wanted to share my recent experience with under humidification not only to confirm your valuable information, but also as a WARNING to your viewers. In 2017 after months of searching for the “perfect” guitar, I bought a 422 AC Eastman and absolutely loved it every time I played it. I live in New Mexico where humidity is usually in the 20-25% range so over time I bought a few room humidifiers as I like to keep my guitar out and accessible. For a variety of reasons they didn’t work out to my liking and I switched to using TWO Oasis sound hole humidifiers.
    Well, within the last six to nine months I began feeling the frets protruding slightly over the edges of the neck. I also noticed some minor cracks on the sound board but didn’t panic because I [mistakenly] thought they were only the gloss finish cracking. Most recently I began hearing buzzing in the base strings. The local guitar shop where I bought it referred me to a luthier in town because they said the damage was beyond their level of repair. The luthier may as well have hit me over the head with my guitar!!! He showed me how the bridge was separating from the top by sliding a piece of paper under each end of the bridge. He also showed me that the neck was separating from the body at that little triangular bit (don’t know what it’s called), and he showed me where the fretboard was bowed upwards. Finally, he pointed out several cracks in the top that I had not even noticed. In short, he estimated about $2,000 to repair my $900 guitar. Now I keep it in its case with a humidipak and an Oasis in the faint hope that the wood might swell to a point where I can play it again – wishful thinking, I know.

    So, take heed guitar geeks – at the first signs of what you think might be under humidification, don’t wait like I did, take your guitar to a professional – you might just be saving your guitar’s life or saving yourself a very expensive repair bill.
    And always remember – just keep on pickin’.

    P.S. – I like both your ideas Tony – a periodic book review and a FAQ segment – my first question would be to ask you ALL about tuning pegs as Ive never heard you speak of them. Cheers.

  15. Thank you, Tony! Crap – I live in a dry area and the neck of my guitar started to bow. I was able to get it fixed (thank God!!) and I keep a humidifier in its case. HOWEVER, I have others that are hanging out in my living room next to a humidifier (it doesn’t spew moisture) but the room is too open, so it they only get about 30% humidity. Time to put them back in their cases with a humidifier!! THANK YOU so much for the info!!! 🙂

  16. Hea Tony, great info. but you forgot us guys in FL. where i am in Fl. humidity runs on an average of 87%, i built a case i sent you pics. of a few yrs. back that i keep a small humidifier in that keeps inside at 43%. I love it cause its realy wet here. Thanks Tony Your friend Guy B. Ruskin FL.

  17. Two comments… first on the father and son fam jam WOW!!! what a fantastic uplifting moment to see. Not perfect but what does a wonderful moment like this have to be. I love it. Second, great info on humility and our instruments. We all need more on this. Finally, I’m fully on board for FAQ acoustic Tuesdays. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has tons of needs for the wealth of information that you can find for us.
    Thanks for a great show.

  18. The Q & A show is a GREAT idea. Just give the TAC Fam. plenty of time to get their Q’s in.
    The book club? Naw.

  19. Down here in LA (Lower Alabama) we have (mostly) a different problem. While we do get a week or three in the winter where humidification is needed, much of the year it’s HOT and HUMID, frequently reaching 90 degrees with 90% relative humidity. Many folks also keep their indoor temps at around 78 to avoid budget busting electric bills. The good news is that air conditioning extracts a good bit of water from the air and by the time it warms back up to room temperature the relative humidity will drop to about 55 – 60%, so your guitars (in an air conditioned room) won’t be in too much danger. But, it’s always a good idea to have a hygrometer and a dehumidifier (as well as the humidifier for those dry winter days) in the same space as your guitars so you can get that humidity down to the sweet spot of 45%-55%.

  20. Great episode regarding humidity. You didn’t mention hygrometers for guitars. I have one that uses a small battery and I keep it in the case and it gives me a digital readout of the humidity in the case. It’s not expensive, it’s small and it reminds me to keep my humidifiers damp.

  21. Yes, the humidification information was very helpful (AT#275). I recently bought the D’Addarrio humidipak two-way humidification system. and they seem to work well, so far. I had started to notice a bit of fret extension on my Martin D-18. It is an older guitar that I bought from a friend who had kept it in the hard case in her crawl space. It has a 1977 serial number, according to the Martin website. When I bought it I took it to a Martin-trained luthier and it needed a lot of work. It was warped to a, literally, unplayable condition. He worked a miracle and this is the first guitar I used to learn how to play.

    As for the book club idea, yes I am interested in that idea, go for it.
    Thank you for the inspiration you continue to provide to the TACFAM.

    Best regards,
    Lee

  22. I only have 3 guitars. A laminate Breedlove parlor guitar, a very nice Martin and a Rainsong. The Rainsong, of course, is a carbon fiber guitar and I keep it hanging on the wall and I have hangers in 3 different rooms in my house. I play that guitar the most because it’s just too convenient. I do humidify my wooden guitars but it’s nice to have a have one that is just “hanging around” all the time. And it likes to go on vacations with me and doesn’t mind being left in the car in any kind of weather conditions.

  23. I have an all carbon fiber guitar,no wood, nice for travel no humidity issues.
    I’d have to play that multi-wood guitar to see if it really does anything better than my 2 wood guitars

  24. I read that D’Addario has the Boveda company make their Humidipacks.
    I use the “saddle bag” style Humidipacks from D’Addario.
    The D’Addario players club gives points when you buy a Humidipack which you can use to get more Humidipacks.
    Humidipacks work well and go from 2 to 3 months during the winter months. I found the recharge trick the cigar folks use on the Bovedas so I tried on the Humidipacks.

    Put them in bowl with enough distilled water and room to completely submerge the pack. Cover the bowl. They take 2 to 3 days to recharge.
    Take them out and let the outside of the pack dry off before using.
    You can by extra Humidipacks but I wish you could buy extra fabric saddle bags. I like the idea of having a fabic between the pack and guitar.

    What about Humidpack placement on guitars with no large sound hole to hang the saddle bags? Guitars like resonators, electric solid body, electric hollow body?
    Great idea, the modified soap dish as a supplement to Humidipacks.
    The humidity in a room can vary several degrees in just a few feet. My local shop uses two or three Hygrometers placed around a room and even with large humidifiers they will have different readings. Digital Hygrometers are $10 – $12 so I did the same got 3 for the guitar room. I take the average as the reading for the room.

    1. MIchael,
      A salesman at one of the shops I go to says he just puts the Humidipaks in an old sock and puts them in the case if he’s out of covers. I guess it would be the same idea just so the paks aren’t in direct contact with the wood.
      According to the directions with the Humidipak, they can last up to 6 months and you will know when it’s time to change them because they will start to get hard. I have a couple that have been going for almost a year, are still fairly soft and the Humiditrak sensor that is in my cases are still showing almost 60%. Other hygrometers show the same. I guess inside a closed case they last longer. As long as sensors say they’re OK, and no problem signs, I guess I’ll wait and see.

  25. Zager Guitar manufactures their own sound hole humidifier that works great. The soft rubber fits smoothly over the sound hole and the very absorbent neoprene makes it last at least 2 weeks. My low E string was buzzing and this humidifier fixed it.

  26. This is the most useful episode I’ve watched, given how important it is to keep one’s guitar(s) in good condition. I live on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, about a half mile from the Juan de Fuca Strait, so it’s damp most of the time, at least outside. I’m checking my music room right now to determine if heating causes the humidity to go below 40 – 55%.
    Thanks, Tony. Keep up the great work!

  27. My guitar humidification experience spans both winter and summer over 40 years in Montana. In 1977, I lived in a rural Montana bunkhouse with just I an electric milk room heater for heat. I put a bowl of water with a sponge halfway in it. One cold night, I awoke to find the water and sponge that was about 6 inches in front of the heater had frozen. It was worse for my acoustic guitar. After we thawed, the finish was “checked,” and there was a crack alongside the sound hole, under the bridge and into the lower bout of my only guitar, a dreadnaught. It was my first guitar, and I still have it, but no one in Beaumont, TX mentioned humidity as a challenge when I first got it.

    August 2022, Montana had a heat wave with low humidity. A new guitar from an East Coast state was being sent here during that time. I requested humidipaks be added to the guitar and case. The vender told me he didn’t think those were needed because the trip would only take a few days, and the guitar would be okay. The guitar arrived 10 days later, spending the weekend 240 miles distant in a warehouse that never got below 90F. The curbside carton temperature out of the delivery truck was 118F (by infrared thermometer). I brought the carton inside and let it acclimate until the next day. When the carton and TKL hard case was opened, the brand new, hand built, one of a kind guitar was not in good shape. The inside guitar humidity was 12 percent (by hygrometer) and 72F, with the back of the bridge lifting and issues with the inside bracing evident. It took a week to get the case and guitar humidity back to 40 percent. It was sent back East with humidipacks enclosed.

  28. Kyser doesn’t make those soundhole Humidifiers anymore,don’t know why.If you like those type of Humidifiers you can them from China,just google them on the internet.

  29. Very helpful Tony. I have one question. The humidity in our house ebs and flows between about 35% and 60% humidity over the course of a couple of days. Would leaving my guitar out in those conditions we “not best practice” but not serious or leaning more toward “I would NOT do that!”?

  30. I am a TAC member, new to guitar but own 3 nice Taylors and a Deering Sierra Banjo. I’m 73 and can’t play one of them…yet. But this humidity thing has me concerned as I have the opposite problem as I live about 2 miles from the Pacific Ocean in Dunes City, Oregon. Today is the 24th of January about 11AM, no rain, it’s 38 degrees and the humidity is 98%. I keep all these instruments in a 12′ X 15′ carpeted bedroom and plan on keeping 3 to 4 of them in the closet in a rack. This closet has louvers in the bifold doors so certainly not airtight. The average humidity in this room is about 85 to 95. I can close the door to this bedroom and I do have a DEhumidifier. Just plug it in and it pulls water out of the air but I’d have to be dumping out the water daily. This room is upstairs and no bathroom so I’d have to climb the stairs every day and dump the water out the window. Since I have unfriendly neighbors who moved here from southern California of course, the window deal would bring every law enforcement and guv-a-suckalas agency down on me, I’m going to try to rig a drain hose from the dehumidifier through the wall and then it’ll just drip outside. However, this building is new construction so I’ll have to wait for the wife to go to the store so that I can drill about a 3/8″ hole through the outside wall and there is a small space in that closet to put the machine and one of the walls is an outside wall. So, other than I may end up reading about this on page 3 of the divorce decree…is this dehumidifier what I need to keep these instruments out of their cases but pretty much housed in this room? The machine is a stand alone on the floor GE, 3 speeds including some timers and essentially new. Please let me know your thoughts and OH, there is no window in the closet. Email is best. Thank you. Tom (wanabee folk guitarist)

    1. Get a hygrometer in the room with the guitars. Especially in the winter the outside relative humidity is not a reliable indicator of what’s indoors. In your example above, air that’s at 38 degrees with 98% humidity, when warmed, will yield only 30% humidity at 68 degrees. That’s because warm air can hold a whole lot more moisture than cold air.

      1. Thanks Grover. You make a good point. I’ll start with a hygrometer in that room and maybe one in the case with the Taylor 814. If in fact RH is only 30% or under 40%-45%, then I will have to Humidify not Dehumidify plus that’ll make the Californians happy. Grover, is there a machine that will do both, not some big central air deal but a room sized unit or is it bags for Humidify and my machine on the Dehumidify side?
        Tom

  31. Tony … I keep my guitars in a humidified room. For Christmas I got a Taylor Sense and installed it in my Taylor Custom, which I bought in Boseman during your classes in June 2018. I have two humidity gauges in the room as well. I’ve noticed the room humidity varies much more significantly than the guitar based on the inserted Taylor Sense. The room is setting usually between 45 & 50%, where my Taylor stays pretty much at 55% +/-1%. I live in Colorado and on the occasion I miss a humidifier fill… room humidity drops fast (down in the low 30s), but my Taylor sense in my guitar stays solid near 55%. So… does this make sense and if I take my guitar out of this environment it would suggest it would hold that humidity say for a over night or so… bad thinking?

    1. Speaking from personal experience. My wife took her Martin from our house in Indiana to Minnesota in the Spring. She opened the case in the evening after we arrived and then put it back in the OPEN case overnight. The next day she took the Martin out and the back had separated completely. $250 to have it repaired. This may be an extreme example but I will not keep the case open when changing environments from now on.

  32. When the bovida packs go dry do not throw them away. Just soak them in distilled water until they rehydrate and use them again. I have a friend who has a successful cigar shop and that is what he does. Save some money.

    1. Dead on Dwayne. I have been told by luthiers and large guitar shops who have a vested interest in selling you more bags, that no, don’t toss them, just steam them in your usual vegetable steamer basket for several; minutes 5-10 mins but do not let your pot run out of water. This allegedly provides a more thorough and gentle saturation, conditions the fabric or bag material and saves a ton of time to dry to your desired level.
      Tom

  33. I keep the whole room humdified so I dont have to put the guitars away. Set the dehumidifier to 55 and the humidifier to 45. If you put the numbers to close together they just fight each and you have to constantly fill/empty the tanks

  34. Humidity, one of the banes of my guitar life. Living in Calgary and wintering in Arizona presents a problem for me. Both are very dry. I started using the Boveda system after a Seagull Maritime dried out while I was away in Az. Seems to work so this year I loaded up all my home units hoping I will not see problems when I return. My travel unit this year is holding on so far in Az according to my hygrometer at 40-45%. Questions for you – What about the case effect on humidity? I have some soft cases and some hard and even a TRIC for my Seagull from Godin. It seems to work well requiring far less maintenance then the others. How accurate are hygometers? I have had vary up to 10 degrees in the same case.
    I rely totally on the sound and feel but my traveller here in Az requires tuning everyday and I notice some fret ends near the body. It comes and goes with the rainy days. I use two Bovedas 49% 60g in a soft case. Should I supplement with water in a sponge setup during the dry times here?
    Your thoughts?

  35. I’ve heard it is important to try to match the humidity of the place the guitar was made – a big difference if your guitar was built in Hawaii or in Arizona! Fact or fiction?

    1. Larivee’ thinks so and has quite a little book that comes with his guitars made in Victoria British Columbia.

  36. I just finished visiting my first Acoustic Tuesday. What a wealth of information. Just a little overwhelming for now but I expect to grow into it. It is refreshing to do business with an organization that delivers more than advertised. I couldn’t be more pleased with my decision to join you. My only criticism, if you don’t mind, I would rather see you in a “football jersey”, but that’s just me. Thanks for including me!!!!!!

  37. I’m a big fan of Humidipaks. Use them year round to maintain optimal humidity range. In winter time when indoor humidity drops, I also use the home made sponge in a soap dish which enhances the longevity of the Humidipaks.

  38. I’ve used the “saddle bag” style from D’Addario for years. As the refill bags are about $20 every three months + or – I’ve been re-activating when they dry out. Put dry packs inside a container which will fit inside a larger air tight container with enough distilled water to allow the silica gel to absorb. A few days later the bags feel exactly like new. Hygrometer readings can vary and some can be calibrated. I’ve decided to bag the bags and switched to Music Noman Humitar with a built in hygrometer. One in the sound hole and one in the case. They work very well. The only problem is the adhesive for the one in the case keeps giving up and the thing falls off. Looking for a solution.

    1. I believe the correct way to re-activate the humidity packs is as Mark Robison described. Whereas soaking them directly in distilled water causes the exterior of the packs to deteriorate.
      I monitor each of my guitars by using the D’Addario WiFi device placed in their cases. Think they are called Blustream. Seem to be accurately recording both humidity and temperature over time. The flat round CR2032 batteries require changing every couple of months when the Humidpaks are exchanged for fresh ones. Works for me in NC.
      By the way Tony, the correct way we here in NC pronounce “Brevard” is the other way you said it. Really informative show this week. Like the Q&A show idea. Like to know what you think of good resources for those of us honing both our guitar and singing abilities.

  39. Whoops. Never knew that a guitar needs to be humidified. Thanks
    Question, I am on the east coast of Canada. It gets humid here in the summer and we don’t have air conditioning. Is that a problem?

    1. I’m in a state where relative winter time humidity can be as high as 85% outside but more like 30% when I’m running the furnace. So you’re probably okay in the warm months. You can get a hygrometer. The best ones can be calibrated. I’ve found them to vary in readings quite a bit.