I work with guitars quite a bit. I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but being around these beauties as much as I am grants a certain level of experience. So this morning a guitar arrived to me that the person had owned for 5 or 6 years and was visibly loved but having some issues. I could tell immediately why there are concerns with this guitar, dehydration. I know it’s not a very fun or happy thing to talk about but when you’re dealing with an instrument made of wood, it’s vital.
Surprisingly, the humidity level in our guitars and ukuleles can affect much more than you’d think. When a guitar gets dried out, the top can sink down where there is pressure from the strings which can then create cracks in the face (especially solid tops which all Tetons are), the bracing can come loose inside the instrument, the frets get sharp or the neck can develop a high angle and action. In addition, the moisture in wooden instruments can affect the sound, humidified wood vibrates differently than dry brittle wood.
Some causes of dehydration can be keeping the guitar near a window in the sunlight, or close to a heater. A lot of times though, living in a dry area is enough to make your guitar dehydrated. In my experience living in Idaho, I can tell the difference in my dreadnaught within 3-4 days if I’m not keeping a humidifier inside, especially in the winter. The ideal humidity is 40-50%, but not all of us have a hygrometer in our possession to check the levels inside our instruments every night before we go to bed so we can sleep easily knowing our guitars and ukuleles are the perfect moisture levels inside.
So one easy thing you can do is just keep a humidifier in your guitar all the time and reinsert it after you’re finished practicing each day and then every few days add some water to it. It’s much less maintenance than you’d think and it’s much better than having to take your guitar to a luthier to have a crack in the face of your instrument sealed, or worse, have to contact the Teton warranty department and potentially be without your instrument for a couple weeks. So, for the love of music, please keep your guitar humidified and things will be alright. Keep writing and singing and playing with a humidified guitar.
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