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Thread: Mandolin humidifier

  1. #1
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    Default Mandolin humidifier

    Can anybody recommend a humidifier for the mandolin? Thanks!

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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier


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    Registered User avaldes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    I moved from the Bay Area, California, where this is not a problem, to the Midwest where I worry over dry interiors in winter. I have some guitars, a ukulele, and a mandolin. I use a violin-size Dampit with distilled water in the mandolin f-hole, plus a room humidifier. I use a Humicase for my flamenco guitar, which has the thinnest wood of all my instruments and thus might be the most sensitive. Modifying my heating system would be very expensive.
    I have been here two winters and my instruments have survived, but I will track this thread for the experience of others who are more knowledgeable, and in particular if any builders chime in. In particular, do humidifiers cause mold growth?

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    Registered User avaldes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    I use an Oasis in my ukulele, but may switch to a dampit this winter.

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    Needs Improvement Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    I use the Oasis humidifier as well. Works great, and is able to fit out of the way in the headstock area of my case. The hygrometer that came with it is registering a pretty constant humidity range of 41% to 49% when I check it. Before I put it in there, my humidity levels were 32% or thereabouts. The little clip thingy that came with it doesn't work in a mandolin case, and the sticky pad doesn't stick to the material in my case, though. That's annoying.

    The thing I worry about is whether that humidity is actually getting past the padding over the neck cradle area in the case and reaching into my sound holes. There's no way to fit this thing near the body of my mandolin. So a sound-hole humidifier like the Dampit would probably be a better bet. I just don't like the idea of snaking something into the sound holes every time I put it away. Especially since parts of it would be in contact with the face and possibly be pressing on the soundboard when I close the case. It may not be a problem, but I still have avoided it for that reason.

  6. #6
    ArtDecoMandos Marty Jacobson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin View Post
    The thing I worry about is whether that humidity is actually getting past the padding over the neck cradle area in the case and reaching into my sound holes.
    I wouldn't sweat it. Humidity is insidious. If the case is decently sealed and you don't leave it open for long periods of time, you can assume fairly even humidity throughout the case. You're humidifying not just the instrument, but all the air in the case, and all the air in the padding in the case. That makes it a pretty stable system as long as it's closed.
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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    ones for violins are basically a perforated tube with a sponge in it you pull out moisten ,
    and put in the tube in thru an F hole.

    there are ones for pianos , that are plugged in and the heat and humidity
    helps keep the pianos like ,in churches, from going out if tune [much] when not kept in
    the same room temperature all week.
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  8. #8
    plectrist
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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    Oasis in the case by the headstock .... Dampit through the ff holes or through the strings on the A.
    Distilled Water!

    Ryk
    mandolin ~ guitar ~ plectrum banjo

    "I'm convinced that playing well is not so much a technique as it is a decision. It's a commitment to do the work, strive for concentration, get strategic about advancing by steps, and push patiently forward toward the goal." Dan Crary

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    if you can find some sponge and drill some holes in a 35 mm film* can, that should do as well .

    *Remember Film?
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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    A plastic bag with a bunch of holes punched into it and a kitchen sponge cut in half works nicely.

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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    I don't use distilled water? Do you have to?

  12. #12
    Registered User avaldes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    bluegrasser: if you use something with humidifier crystals like the Oasis, or a sponge like the dampit, and you have hard water, they will last longer with distilled water. If you have a DIY sponge in a ziploc or film can, you can just throw out the cheap sponge now and then. The actual desirable moisture from tap water would be fine. It is just that the minerals in the water will clog up the crystals or sponge or whatever.

  13. #13
    Needs Improvement Tobin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    Yup, I made that mistake once and had to throw away an expensive humidifier because tap water clogged up the clay insert. Only distilled water for me now.

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    Registered User TheMandoKit's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    I live in the upper midwest, in an old house with radiators/hot water heat, and in the winter time, the RH can get down to < 20%, which is pretty much desert conditions. I like the idea of humidifying the room, rather than the case, and run a Venta Airwasher humidifier in the room where I keep instruments. The Venta can keep the RH up to around 40%, but when it gets really cold, it is a challenge to keep the RH up without having water condense and run down the windows. That's when I add the case humidifiers. I have tried just about every kind out there, and I really like the Oasis model. They do not leak, you know when it is time to add water, and are easy to fill. I use the "in the instrument" model for flat-top guitars, and the in-case model for mandolins. Archtop guitars are a challenge, so I still use the old dampit type in the f-holes, plus a second case humidifier by the accessory pocket.

    The Ventas are by no means cheap, but they are relatively easy to keep clean (essential where I live, since the water is very hard and full of iron/minerals), and work very well. I have two that have been operating for nearly nine years with only minor maintenance (replacing some parts that wear). With the hard water here, even with regular cleaning, evaporative and vaporizer types would not even last one heating season.

    I will echo comments above about distilled versus tap water in the small in-case models if local water is hard. I have had Dampit-type humidifiers go south in one season. The minerals will also kill the water holding crystals in Oasis humidifiers quickly. I only use distilled water in those as well.

    As always, YMMV.
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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    Well I use the little Oasis humidifiers that go in the mandolin cases and a few that go in the sound hole of my D-18's, I've used these for a year with just tap water and I just filled em all yesterday and they all looked okay? How do you make distilled water?
    I live in a smaller ranch style house and I heat with propane in the winter, Central air in summer, when wintertime hits I use a few cool air humidifiers on both ends of the house, instruments are usually all in cases. Never had a problem with cracks,I do have some cracks in my instruments here and there but they were there when I bought the instruments "I don't like pristine instruments, I like old used and abused"
    Now real soon I'll be adding onto my house a 28 X 16', addition and about half of that will be a soundproof music room, I know its better to keep your goods in their cases but I want to hang em so there all easy access to play whenever! Plus it'll be my sanctuary from everything I guess my ?is does anyone have a music room and do you keep your horns out also do you use a room humidifier in the winter and try and keep a constant humidity? Lets hear some ideas my friends.

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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    I forgot to mention my oasis humidifiers have them little crystals in em also, What is the point of them? Is it a type of silica gel that keeps moisture/water longer in the humidifier itself? Do you really need them because the water just eventually evaporates through the cloth exterior of the humidifier anyway right? Sorry to be a pain about this but I'm somewhat not to knowledgeable about these things! I also have hard water.

  17. #17
    Registered User Manfred Hacker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    I have tried most, but this one seems to work best for me: Stretto Humidifier for Violin, Viola and Small Instruments.
    They are prohibitively expensive considering that the production costs probably cents. But they hold up for the longest period of all of those I have tried (typically always more than a week). And I have also measured the humidity level, which has been consistently in a good range.
    For me it was easy to put the velcro in a corner of my cases where the neck rests. No rubbing against the instruments.
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  18. #18
    Registered User Bauzl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    I use a medium sized potato as recommended here:
    http://www.krishot.com/ekrishot/enmandolins.php

    The potato last as long as the J75s I use. I guess coated or flat wound potatoes last longer.

    I often get asked and need to explain: Yes I know, you make Vodka from potatoes not Whiskey.

    To be earnest, it seems to be better than nothing. At least the action stays more constant than without potato.

  19. #19
    MandolaViola bratsche's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    When I lived for a couple years in a really dry climate, I would keep a slice of an apple, or the core part of a mostly-eaten apple, in my viola case. It amazed me that it never grew moldy, but just began to dry out, until it was completely dry and rock-hard (by then it was time to replace it, of course). Also made the case smell good. An orange slice will work, too, provided it's not too juicy.

    I would be very careful with the dampits that you put through the f-holes. Shake them out good, and make absolutely sure they are not dripping wet anywhere when you put them in. If they are, and should come in contact with the glue joints (or any internal repairs), you are asking for trouble.

    bratsche

  20. #20
    Registered User loess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    Here's a visual on the sponge-in-a-ziploc-bag thing. Always works well for me, just check it every so often and wet again if needed.

    http://www.bryankimsey.com/humdifier/
    *`.☽☆☾.*

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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    Here's what I have used for two years:

    http://www.elderly.com/accessories/items/GH.htm

    It's a sponge in a perforated plastic holder. These work, don't leak and don't get moldy. It's the only one I've tried over 30 years (and I have tried just about all of them) of which all that can be said. During the winter when it's very dry I only need to moisten it every week or so. I put it in the case next to the body of the mandolin, not the headstock. I use distilled water.

  22. #22
    Registered User Clef's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    When using case humidifiers be very cautious so you don't over humidify your instrument. Get a hygrometer so you know how much humidity you have. Otherwise you could do more harm than good.

    The method I use is a tiny sponge in a tiny zip lock bag. To get the humidity level desired with the zip lock bag, it takes a few days. Start off with a few holes in the bag and check the hygrometer the next day. Add more holes to add more humidity. Once you get it to where you want it, don't add anymore holes. From here your homemade case humidifier will keep a consistent humidity percentage. You also don't need the hygrometer in the case at this point. The case will be consistent humidity as long as you keep the sponge damp.

    For room humidifiers, the ideal percentage is somewhere between 40%-50%. For case humidifiers, you want it lower. I try to keep my case around 32%-37%. Anymore than that seems to be too much humidity inside the case.

    I've lived in NM for two years now. I always figured NM was a dry place because of the desert environment, but the summer months are perfect humidity for musical instruments. All summer long it's been about 45% humidity in my house. I only need to humidify my instruments in the wintertime. Last winter my house would go as low as 15% humidity according to my hygrometer.
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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    For several years I've made my own for my guitars and ukuleles out of old prescription bottles and the water storing crystals, I just drill a bunch of about #50 holes in the caps. You can get a bag of the crystals at most garden stores or your local Home Labrynth. Each bottle takes about 1/8 teaspoon so a bag will last a long time. Ukes and guitars have much thinner wood, especially the soundboards so the usual recommendation is 40-60% humidity for them. I'm new to mandolin's so not sure what the ideal humidity would be for them, but these humidifiers last a week or two between filling for my instruments up here in the high desert.
    Last edited by kenikas; Sep-30-2013 at 6:40pm. Reason: Fat fingers vs iPhone

  24. #24
    Robert Fear Folkmusician.com's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    I use two mandolin humidifiers. One at the shop and one at home. Both are large (relatively inexpensive) household humidifiers and these are really the way to go.
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    Default Re: Mandolin humidifier

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrasser78 View Post
    Now real soon I'll be adding onto my house a 28 X 16', addition and about half of that will be a soundproof music room, I know its better to keep your goods in their cases but I want to hang em so there all easy access to play whenever! Plus it'll be my sanctuary from everything I guess my ?is does anyone have a music room and do you keep your horns out also do you use a room humidifier in the winter and try and keep a constant humidity? Lets hear some ideas my friends.
    A number of folks have built or bought an instrument display case that can be humidified. To me this seems the way to go if you have the resources. Perhaps, as your music room is in the design stage, perhaps you can have a display case built into one wall.

    Much easier to control the humidity in the display case, as opposed to the whole room, and you can have the instruments dramatically lit. You do have to open the glass doors to get at 'em, but its still easier.


    For me, I don't like having my mandolins out of the their cases unless they are being played. Perhaps I worry too much. (And I don't care to have every delivery person, dishwasher repairman, house cleaner and caregiver see them, and perhaps yammer about all the goodies to someone else and...)

    But that display case idea is something to think about.
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