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Thread: Humidity

  1. #1

    Default Humidity

    Hello there friends of all world;

    In this time of year I fear for humidity in the cupboard where I keep both my Morgan Monroe and my Martin guitar , temperature is at 81 f and humidity at 78 percent in the case of the guitar, I honestly still don't know about the mandolin but I put in the case a d addario package humidity absorber inside the cave of the body to keep humidity at Bay , trouble il that when I take the mandolin out to play the tuning is higher than when I left it tuned right the previous time I played it , all the 8 strings go higher of at least half a tone , is the wood moving in a way ?

    Ciao. Grazie

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  3. #2
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidity

    Yes. Wood absorbs moisture from the air and expands. I don't think 81 F and 78% RH will damage it. The only way to bring things back to "normal" (~76 F and 45% RH) is with air conditioning.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Humidity

    Or a dehumidifier.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  5. #4
    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidity

    I am annoyed by my mandolin's sensitivity to humidity. It causes no harm, unlike an Otto Erdesz viola I owned that came unglued at every opportunity. It is the unstable pitch that is an issue. As humidity increases it absorbs that and expands, driving the strings sharp. This was proven one week at an east coast beach. Every day was hot and humid, and every time I took the mandolin out to play it was substantially sharp. I never had to tune up, always down.

    After returning home to air conditioning I was tuning up for a few days until it settled down.

    This also occurs as I play, with an initial sagging of the strings as they warm, only to need the opposite, tuning down, as the instrument apparently responds to the local humidity of me holding it. I remember Tim O'Brien asking us if anyone knew why mandolins go sharp. Now I know why, and will deal with it.

    I am having my backup Buchanan's interior surfaces sealed with shellac by my repairman. He tells me some makers, Blue Ridge being one, finish their interiors. If violins and archtop mandolins did the sane we would have less worry about humidity changes. My solidbody electric ignores humidity. I intend my acoustics to also be unaffected.
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  6. #5

    Default Re: Humidity

    My octave mandolin goes up to a 1/4 tone flat when it’s dry outside and sharp 1/4 tone when rain’s forecast. Wondering that’s bad over time.
    My bodhran is a great weather forecaster.

  7. #6
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidity

    78% humidity is mold territory (anything over 70% I believe). If you don't have AC or a dehumidifier, how about those little plastic containers filled with something hydrophilic, I think calcium carbonate? I get these at the dollar store, and keep them in a closet where I have some old paperwork stored. When the hydrophilic substance liquifies, it's time to toss them and get new. I wonder if a few of those in the cupboard, as well as the case dehumidifier, would do the trick?

    Sue

  8. #7

    Default Re: Humidity

    Well in the mandolin i put in the daddario dehumidifiers packet ,put it exactly inside the top , my luthier told me that a Martin guitar is much more at risk of humidity than the Morgan Monroe mandolin and the electric guitars which i have all in the same closet. Is that the case?

    Cheers

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Humidity

    Most likely, yes, that’s the case. Morgan Monroe tends to overbuild, if anything, to avoid top collapses, warranty claims, etc, as is the case with most imports, Kentucky and Eastman perhaps excepting. Doesn’t mean they don’t turn out some nice instruments, but it is what it is. So, they’ll be a bit less likely to split or separate from the humidity than a Martin, especially if it’s a satin finish. Solid body electrics aren’t impervious, but close to it. I’ve stopped taking my acoustics when I go to the beach near Charleston, SC, USA, where the humidity can hit 90+% outside, and 70-80% inside. I take a solid body tele and my Mandobird and don’t worry about it. There’s still tuning adjustments, but not as drastic, and no seams to worry about.
    Chuck

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Humidity

    I have played weekly cruises on the Mississippi for a very long time. It gets hot, 90's and humid, but I haven't had and problems with humidity cracking any of the instruments. Dryness is more likely to crack a top than humidity, IMHO. Here in the midwest night's are in the 90% humidity and in the house even with a dehumidifier running off and on 60-70+% Have never had an instrument crack in the summer. Winter dryness, I humidify, can effect instruments and too dry will definitely crack them.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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  12. #10
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    Default Re: Humidity

    pops1, agree totally that low humidity is a worse offender than higher humidity, and it tends to be dramatic swings in temp/humidity that cause major issues, or consistently low humidity. But, consistently high humidity can cause issues, too. I live in the dirty south, and have to dehumidify in summer and humidify from November/December to March. I had a Taylor 714 that was a really nice finger picker that handled flat picking/strumming very well, but was really sensitive to humidity. The last acoustic mando I took to the beach was my Kelley A5, and it’s as perfectly a set up a mando as I’ve played. But, in beach humidity, it buzzed on the upper strings, and for just a few days, I wasn’t willing to tweak the bridge +/- truss rod. Back home, it’s right as the mail. I think all my instruments sound best around 42% humidity, but have a hard time getting it under 50%in the summer here, despite 3 larger humidifiers.

    All that being said, I remember seeing Town Mountain at s large house party several years ago (back when you could do such things) late in November. It was crazy cold for us that early, with temps in the upper teens/low 20s. Their mando player picked his Kimble F5, and it sounded damn good. They all had fingerless gloves and heat lamps for their fingers between tunes, but still. I offered to go get him my Kentucky 675-S so he could put the Kimble in the house, and he replied, simply, “Nah, I’m good.” Some much better instruments later, I get it...
    Chuck

  13. #11
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    Default Re: Humidity

    CES yup humidity will do some weird things to instruments, never had it crack, but I guess it could happen. Sure makes a varnish finish a pain. Gets all sticky and easily damaged. My best mandolin looks like it went thru the war from gigging, sounds great tho. The last three years on the cruises I played a 60's Gibson A that had the fingerboard moved toward the nut to give just enough access to the upper part of the neck. Also was X braced so it sounded way better than most 60's Gibsons. The lacquer finish wasn't as sticky to play as the varnish, which is why I got it. I like that little mandolin, but with no work I may have to let it go, along with some other stuff. I understand about playing the Kimble, it's why I played my Brentrup all those years in all kinds of environments from 90's to low 30's. I almost have a speed neck from playing. The finish and most of the color is worn off and it helps some with the sticky when it's hot and humid. Still not as good as lacquer, but it takes longer to get sticky. Still like playing it more than any other.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  14. #12
    NY Naturalist BradKlein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidity

    As others have said, high humidity is much less a problem than low humidity - until you get to a mold or mildew problem.

    I don't think finishing the interior of the instrument would make any difference at all, unless you did something foolishly drastic. Wood moves, even with any finish used on musical instruments.

    Having strings go sharp... it's the arch in the instruments top that rises. Not normally a problem.
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    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidity

    I've never had an issue with damage from picking my old mandolins with high humidity except they absorb the moisture fast as they are old and dried out and sound terrible-for sure at a fest with rain, last night at band practice it was low 90's out and humid. My old F-7 convert sounded great for 2 hours of playing.

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    Default Re: Humidity

    Bruce Weber has credibility. Here’s his take and following his advice has worked for me.

    https://www.montanalutherie.com/drea...umidification/

  18. #15
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidity

    In my case, low humidity is hard on the instrument, high humidity is hard on the player. Today's a prime example of the latter.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

  19. #16
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    Default Re: Humidity

    Hi, everyone. In my country, Japan, it is the worst condition for the instrument in two months from June to July with a lot of rain and high humidity. Today, the temperature is 30℃(90°F) and the humidity is 88%!!.
    I don't want to get out of the case, but I can't because I want to practice. And I will get a semitone. I am using a desiccant, but I am having a hard time.

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  21. #17
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    Default Re: Humidity

    Quote Originally Posted by Marco Mancini View Post
    Hello there friends of all world;

    In this time of year I fear for humidity in the cupboard where I keep both my Morgan Monroe and my Martin guitar , temperature is at 81 f and humidity at 78 percent in the case of the guitar, I honestly still don't know about the mandolin but I put in the case a d addario package humidity absorber inside the cave of the body to keep humidity at Bay , trouble il that when I take the mandolin out to play the tuning is higher than when I left it tuned right the previous time I played it , all the 8 strings go higher of at least half a tone , is the wood moving in a way ?

    Ciao. Grazie
    I, too, fight excessive humidity in our RV travels. When I saw your reference to d addario package humidity absorber, I thought it may be something I could use to fight high humidity. Upon looking this product up it clearly states it's intended use is for low humidity situations.
    May be contributing to your problem.
    This item may help: Ever Bamboo Guitar Dehumidifier Bag Set w/ Bamboo Charcoal (3-50 g)
    Last edited by Pittsburgh Bill; Jul-18-2020 at 11:51am.
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  23. #18

    Default Re: Humidity

    Quote Originally Posted by BradKlein View Post
    Having strings go sharp... it's the arch in the instruments top that rises. Not normally a problem.
    If the humidity goes up the wood expands, while the strings don't. Since the length of the instrument expands, the strings go sharp.

  24. #19
    Registered User Murphy Slaw's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidity

    It's 75 degrees and 90% humidity at 6:30 a.m. in Southern Illinois right now.

    Gonna be a hot one today. Glad I don't have to do an outdoor jam today.

    But if I did.

    I would.....
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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Humidity

    High humidity, along with my sweating, is one major reason I like both arm rests and tone gards on my mandolins. Back when I was just playing guitar, I damaged a decent Martin at a festival playing. My shirt sticking to the back of the instrument was the first indication. It sounded terrible for a couple weeks afterwards. Thankfully no glue failures. The finish did take a hit.

    Also, some instruments are more influenced by humidity (or lack thereof) than others. Neither my A Jr. or Collings seem to have the tuning go haywire due to the humidity. Slightly out of tune, yes. But nothing like my Kalamazoo does on an almost daily basis. That's probably as much the difference between a carved top and an "Arco arched" top as anything.
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  26. #21

    Default Re: Humidity

    Quote Originally Posted by pops1 View Post
    I have played weekly cruises on the Mississippi for a very long time. It gets hot, 90's and humid, but I haven't had and problems with humidity cracking any of the instruments. Dryness is more likely to crack a top than humidity, IMHO. Here in the midwest night's are in the 90% humidity and in the house even with a dehumidifier running off and on 60-70+% Have never had an instrument crack in the summer. Winter dryness, I humidify, can effect instruments and too dry will definitely crack them.
    Pops, did you ever play on the Julia Belle Swain when it was running out of LaCrosse? I always wanted to ride on it but then they stopped running around 2009. Here is a picture I took of it up around Lansing Iowa in 2006 when it was still going.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Joe boat trip 51 8-06.JPG 
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    Default Re: Humidity

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlM View Post
    Pops, did you ever play on the Julia Belle Swain when it was running out of LaCrosse? I always wanted to ride on it but then they stopped running around 2009. Here is a picture I took of it up around Lansing Iowa in 2006 when it was still going.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Joe boat trip 51 8-06.JPG 
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    Yes, many times. Loved that boat. The engine man was on there when John Hartford was getting his pilot license aboard the Julia Bell. She was the last of the true paddle wheel boat plying the Mississippi, and still had her steam engine. It now ran on diesel, but was a steam engine. Hopefully she will be restored and put back into service someday.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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    Default Re: Humidity

    The things I learn on the Cafe. I never knew this was a real boat.

    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  30. #24
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    Default Re: Humidity

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    The things I learn on the Cafe. I never knew this was a real boat.

    Not as fancy as the Delta Queen or the Mississippi Queen, but a sweet little boat.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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