View Full Version : Dampit Violin Humidifier

Scotti Adams
Mar-04-2004, 7:38am
..any body use one of these? or do any of you have some other type of humidifier for your case or mando. I would particurally like to hear of some home made remedies. thanks..Scotti

Mar-04-2004, 8:01am
I've been using a "Bellows Syringe" bottle which I found at a Scientfic Supply house. These were used either for glueing or lubricating - things(?). It's a simple bellows about one inch long and less than half inch in diameter with a removeable, pointed tip.

To use these , I compress the bellows, cut about five or six grooves down the bellows, then put a small piece of compressible sponge inside the cavity. A small piece of pipe cleaner goes into the tip and the tip is then replaced. For oval or round hole instruments, I just drop it in the sound hole and hook the bent pipe cleaner over some strings.

The beauty is - when the sponge dries out, you can see and feel that it no longer is filling up the bellows. Depending on the weather, I may have to refill once a week or just once a month. It holds about a half ounce of water. For F hole mandolins - this doesn't work as well - the bellows is slightly too large for many F holes - so I just put two of them inside the case by the heel of the instrument, and exhale into one of the f holes a few times before I close the case.

I'll try to get some pix of this up later today. (Not of me exhaling - not that picturesque.)

Scotti Adams
Mar-04-2004, 8:04am
great Dion.I would like to see that..

John Flynn
Mar-04-2004, 8:06am
I use the dampit and another brand of "rubber snake." They are OK I guess, but I am not wild about them. They don't hold a lot of water unless you overload them, and that can result in water getting on the wood inside the instrument. I have also used the Planet Waves "system." Two words: overpriced junk.

My solution has been to start with a plastic soap case, like you might use to carry a bar of soap on a camping trip. I drilled about 20 holes in the top of it and then cut a sponge to size and put it in the case. I keep the sponge dampened and I leave the "device" in my mando case. According to the digital hygromter I have calibrated and then mounted in my case, this homemade device works better than anything I have tried. I do have to be careful when I am traveling, to not over-wet the sponge. Otherwise, I can get a little water on my case lining, but its no big deal.

Scotti Adams
Mar-04-2004, 8:08am
..great Idea....!!!

Mar-04-2004, 9:13am
mine's as low tech as ya can get...a folded wet papertowel inside the plastic thing that my mandolin strings come in. #No water can get on my mando and it just needs re-wetted every few weeks. Very compact also.

Scotti Adams
Mar-04-2004, 9:34am
..my mando stays out of the case when I am at home...in its stand....Thats why I thought about getting the Dampit thing....in fact..I just ordered it....I like then soap box idea for the case though...

Mar-04-2004, 12:16pm
I use the dampit on both of my mandolins. The only thing I find is you have to fill it every day to keep the right humidity. But, since I don't think of that as a bother, it's great! I would highly suggest it!

John Flynn
Mar-04-2004, 12:26pm

That is what I use the dampit for also, but I question whether it actually works, unless you seal off the sound holes, which of course would be a pain. I am no "Mr. Science," but from what I think I understand reading about humidity, it is a "closed container" kind of situation. Essentially, the whole room is pulling humidity from your dampit if the sound holes are open. Of course, the dampit is not able to keep up with the whole room. If anyone knows more about this, I'd love to hear it. BTW, I also have a room humidifer in the room I play music in.

Scotti Adams
Mar-04-2004, 1:08pm
..thanks all of you for your input..I really appreciate it...

Bob A
Mar-04-2004, 1:50pm
I've been using dampits since they came on the market decades ago. The old ones were pretty good, but the newer green ones are nowhere near as good. They tend to self-destruct in about 4 years, turning into dissolving slime. Also the filler, a sort of ersatz sponge, has a nasty habit of dripping into your instrument unless you squeeze it out pretty well. So you have a "Slightly-dampit".

They come (or used to) with a plastic dingus that would seal up your guitar's soundhole. They were pretty good for scratching the finish. (Of course I bought Guitar-sized dampits. They fit in the instrument, and held about four times as much humidity as the scrawny fiddle-sized units).

Several years ago I bought an evaporative humidifier, and I put 4-8 gallons of water thru it daily during the heating season. Keepingh my instruments in the same room has eliminated need for dampits except for trips. Sadly, even though the product has deteriorated, literally, they're the best solution for the problem, as I see it, putting moist air where it is needed.

My granddaughter has a Bobelock fiddle case, and there's a vial fastened in place near the peghead that can be filled with water. It releases enough humidity to keep the pegbox tight, usually. (Does nothing for the rest of the instrument, so we have a green fiddlesnake too.) I can't see that as useful for mandolins, but at least they're thinking about the problem.

Mar-04-2004, 2:20pm
A couple years ago someone here posted this idea: Take a plastic 35mm film cannister and drill it full of holes. Cut a piece of sponge to fit inside it. Dampen the sponge and you're done. The really nice thing about this size is that it fits perfect in my mando cases, under the neck near the joint.

I made a slightly smaller version for my daughters fiddle. Like Bob describes, she keeps it near the pegbox so the pegs don't loosen every 3-4 days..

I use a dampit in my guitar. I've had no problems with it.

Mar-04-2004, 2:49pm
Lot of logic to Mando Johnny's comment. I always have my mando either in hand or in case.

Mar-04-2004, 5:31pm
I swear by the Dampit and mine have held up pretty good. I'm on my second one in 10yrs. It makes a huge difference in my mando. I can tell when the Dampit is dry 'cause my mando sounds "tight". You're right though, if it's out of the case all the time, like at a fest or a long jam I have to wet it everyday. Otherwise it's every couple of days. I like it also because while I'm playing it's working unlike the case type ones. I can't be without mine.

Mar-05-2004, 2:09pm
I found that using Aquafoam (the stuff florists use in flower arranging) in my homemade humidifiers works a little better than the sponge did. It is fairly cheap but delicate. Probably won't hold up in the bellows described in a previous post. I think this is the same material used in the Planet Waves humidifier.

Mar-06-2004, 2:50pm

Over these last many months I have read seemingly countless posts of yours regarding how much you "love" your BRW instrument. #If this is the instrument that you are leaving out of its case and on the stand, then I think you should reconsider this risky practice. #Actually I think it is dead-out wrong to leave any instrument out of its case like that...but that's just my opinion.

Along the same lines, if your precious lifetime BRW instrument has never had a Damp-it in it, then you should ask the maker and others "in the know" before using a Damp-it--obviously a damp-it is a very dramatic/dynamic thing to do to an instrument. #Ultimately you could very well harm the instrument (e.g. warping, cracking). #I personally know a couple of full-time professional violinists who have stated they would never put a Damp-it in their $100,000+ instruments (although I am sure other violinists swear by doing just that). #As I understand it, the controversy re. violins has to do whether or not you cause more stress on the instrument over the long haul given the Damp-it's and the human's inability to keep things "constant"...especially given the fact that most violins will be around longer than the violinists...and especially given the fact that there are more things going on in a person's life than attending to (and monitoring) the Damp-it. #I prefer the above poster's room-humidifier approach if a person is particulary concerned with the "constant" aspect.

Currently I am dealing with my own Damp-it-induced neck problem on a recently purchased Old Wave that my luthier and I have our fingers crossed on, as to when we can resolve the problem and whether or not the top will crack in the meantime. #I am not too upset about that problem, because the instrument will never be my primary instrument and eventually the little guy will be fun to play from time to time, repaired top or not.

In short, I'd be very leary of experimenting around with an instrument as precious as your BRW--if it ain't broke, then don't fix it, man.

To qualify the above, however...I am not an expert in the matter whatsoever. #Neither are you nor most/all of the other posters above--which is my whole point.

Scotti Adams
Mar-06-2004, 7:31pm
..uh...thats what Im doing...asking people
"in the know"....Im not totally ignorant...ya know..I dont know how to take this post....is it a slam or what?..My Mando did develop a crack in the grain just to the left of the seam on the top behind the bridge..its been fixed and all is well. We determined that it was the lack of humidity...Ben and I....he built the mando..he should know dont you think?....This mando went through some dramatic climate/humidity change from Texas back to Ohio....As far as me leaving it out on its stand..Thats my decision...its out of harms way..believe me...beides..Im a firm believer that instruments breathe..to keep it stuffed in a case is not healthy....youve got your opinion..Ive got mine...I tend to believe mine..thanks for your input though....

Andy Morton
Mar-07-2004, 8:21pm
Interesting post---had to chime in. #

I bought a '22 Gibson a-2 this past August and sent it to a highly regarded luthier in Knoxville, Tenn. this past fall for a refret---Knoxville is my hometown. #I now live in Madison, WI. #Dry winter territory. #The luthier sent the instrument back to me just after in early January. #

I keep my instruments in the basement, where the humidity measures 25%-30% in the during the driest part of the winter and I use a dampit (but I don't over do it--it is damp--not sopping). #

Two hairline 1-2 inch cracks showed up on the back of the mando in early Feb. after we had a spell of very cold (and dry weather). #I did take the instrument out to play (once almost all day--at church). #So the instrument did experience changes in humidity that could have been pretty quick.

I believe the quick changes in humidity are likely the cause of these cracks. #I keep wondering how an instrument can go 80 years with cracks and be in situations of varied humidity and general care (could have been left sitting on a steam radiator once or twice during that time period) and then crack when a mando fanatic "babies" it. #The pain of it all!!!!!

My question in this is this---What do the pros do who travel all over the place in really varied conditions?

Should you just "retire" iyour really special instruments during the winter and leave them in constant humidty (your house)?

Any other perspectives out there?

Andy Morton
Madison, WI

Scotti Adams
Mar-09-2004, 6:10pm
..I recieved the Dampit system yesterday.....according to the meter on the card the room where I keep my mando us holding 30% humidity....pretty low huh?...I followed the directions on the package..now we will wait for some results. BTW....Ben Wilcox highly recommends these things.....the long range cure is to get an actual humidifier for the house...

John in T-ride
Mar-10-2004, 9:51am
Scotty you can also order the Bobelock Humidifier for your case with a hygrometer for around twenty bucks,but that would mean leaving the mando in the case.( I think you are a bobelock case owner?)

John Flynn
Mar-10-2004, 10:08am
the long range cure is to get an actual humidifier for the house
Just my experience, but that is not always a complete solution. I have a whole house humidifier on my furnace and it is working properly. I also have a supplemental room humidifier in the room I keep my instruments in and I had it running on high around the clock. But in the dead of winter, with the furnace running nearly full time, the room humidity would sometimes still get down to the low 30's. Forced air heating seems to be the enemy more than the weather. I could get the humidity up by closing the heating vents, but then of course the temperature would drop. Keeping the instrument in a closed, humidfied case is the only 100% solution. I fugure all the other humidifers just makes things as good as they can be when the instruments are out of the case.

Scotti Adams
Mar-10-2004, 10:27am
Scotty you can also order the Bobelock Humidifier for your case with a hygrometer for around twenty bucks,but that would mean leaving the mando in the case.( I think you are a bobelock case owner?)
..yes I am a Bobelock owner...while I was at SPBGMA I seen the new Bobelock cases had a humifier built in the case..well it was probably just a meter...mine doesnt have that...

Mar-10-2004, 11:06am
The little card humidity indicator isn't that accurate- I've got a Bionaire one that's digital (and more accurate, though still not perfect).. interesting thread. I'm in a dry flat in London (how it manages to be dry with the weather we've had here escapes me..) but I'm wondering what my best move it. Slow & gradual moisture release that is constant seems the best idea, those clay canister ones impress me.. but what do repair experts and luthiers here think of this issue?

Regarding the cracks in the Madison, WI instrument- could be temperature shock from going out of the warm house, into the cold car, back into the warm church, back home etc. I used to live in Milwaukee, and used a "Climate Case" mylar-ish cover to insulate the instrument against rapid changes in temperature.

Mar-10-2004, 11:12am
How much is the Bobelock with the humidifier selling for and where can I see pics of one? I have done a google search but can't find a mfg site.

Scotti Adams
Mar-10-2004, 11:14am
..I just ordered the Bobelock Hygrometer kit from Finecases.com $34.00....I figure once I get out and about this spring and summer and carrying the mando in the case it the 'meter will come in handy...its sharp lookin too...it will make a classy case look even better...

Mar-10-2004, 11:18am
Scotti....will that kit retro fit in your case without any mods? Is your case a suspension case?

Scotti Adams
Mar-10-2004, 11:24am
..from what they say it comes with a installation kit....I wouldnt say it was a suspension case in the truest form of the word..I have seen where they install on the newer Bobelock cases....its right on the front wall on the inside of the case..close to the Bobelock logo..so when you open the case its facing you....I dont forsee any problem installing it....probably just a matter of cutting a hole in that area and securing the hygrometer in it...

JD Cowles
Mar-10-2004, 12:48pm
i've got a $20 radio shack hygro/thermo-meter that fits nicely (even in a calton) for checkin levels and a "guardfather" humidifier. its a little film can sized deal with a clay insert. they seem to hold moisture longer thatn the dampits. janet davis music sells them for like $4 (no financial interest). the dampit was great, but i would forget to check it and the thing would get bone dry to the point i was scared it was actually wicking moisture away from my mando.

Mar-10-2004, 2:01pm
What should the ideal humidity level be inside the case?

John Flynn
Mar-10-2004, 3:44pm
What should the ideal humidity level be inside the case?
I use the Martin Guitars recommendation, which is something like (I don't have it in front of me) 45-55% humidity at 72-77 degrees F. The temp is important also because relative humidity is well, relative, to temperature. Not being "Mr. Science," all I know is that if you are outside of that temperature range, you have to use different humidity readings.