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Acoustic care in desert environments? Tips?

JosephZdyrski

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3,025
Simple Question for others that live in desert environments.....

How do you care for your acoustics as far as storage, transport and use of humidifiers .... like how often to use them and when and for how long etc.

Just looking for tips from others with more experience as this environment is fairly new to me.
 
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I'm fortunate that our climate in England is temperate with no extended periods of dryness or excessive humidity, but in your case two essentials are a decent humidifier and a hygrometer for measuring relative humidity; both inexpensive items. When not in use keep your guitar in its case with a proprietary humidification device (avoid anything that might drip water into the soundhole!), and buy a room humidifier (aircon is a guitar killer!).
Good advice here:
 
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evening_crow

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349
Been living in the Mojave desert for the least 5 years. I keep my acoustics in my closet inside their cases with an Oasis OH-1 in the storage compartment under the neck and an OH-30 in the soundhole. I try to refill them every two weeks but have gone up to about a month as long as the hydrometer on the OH-30 shows >40%. No issues so far with my 5 acoustics. Just keep an eye on the screen once a week and you'll be fine.

I don't do anything different when I've traveled with my 214CE in the overhead compartment on planes apart from loosening the strings a bit. As far as drives, I keep them in the back seat away from sunlight.
 

shredtrash

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I live in New Mexico. I started using D'Addario Humidipaks last year because they're easy, consistent and low-maintenance (was using the Oasys humidifiers before that). I can't afford to neglect my acoustic guitars in this type of climate unless I want to pay big-time later.
 

Frozen Rat

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2,189
I think you instinctually know that it's mostly about humidity. You probably aren't going to get away with leaving them out of their cases unless you have a whole-house humidifier. Any kind of in-case humidifier should work. You could also do what I do and keep your guitars in an enclosed display case with a humidifier inside; except I don't need to do that much living by the ocean, but that's how I'd handle it in a drier clime. Another bonus is less dust on and in your guitar.
 

derekd

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41,824
I make my own in-case humidifiers out of cheap, plastic dental appliance boxes. They are rounded on one end, hinged and have holes in the top. Cut a cello sponge to fit, wet, wring out excess and stick it in the case.

If I lived in the desert or mountains, I'd leave a small room humidifier on, also. Those are like $25-$30 at Walmart.
 

Parlorman

Gold Supporting Member
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1,427
I don't live in a desert (New England) but the air inside houses here in the winter can have lower relative humidity than the most arid deserts.

I suggest getting two decent quality hygrometers - one for your guitar case/cabinet and one for the room you keep your instruments in. If the RH in the room is in the 40-50% range, you do not need to worry about your guitars. In fact, you don’t want to get the humidity too high as that can cause problems with a solid wood instrument also.
 

walterw

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37,590
I live in New Mexico. I started using D'Addario Humidipaks last year because they're easy, consistent and low-maintenance (was using the Oasys humidifiers before that).
i wonder about those humidipaks in this application.

in NM it's really dry all the time, right? that means those packs are coming with their supplied amount of water, releasing it until it's all gone, and that's it. they don't get exposed to humid conditions where they might be reabsorbing water so as to refresh themselves and maintain the equilibrium.

don't they just dry out and they're done? how often are you buying new ones?
 

walterw

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37,590
Simple Question for others that live in desert environments.....

How do you care for your acoustics as far as storage, transport and use of humidifiers .... like how often to use them and when and for how long etc.
"all the time" is probably a reasonable answer.
 

SRQGuitar

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Gold Supporting Member
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1,896
I’m lucky to be in a studio apartment here. It’s easier to keep the whole place humidified than is is to keep a dozen or so instrument cases supplied with humidipaks and such. When I lived in Minneapolis it was much harder to keep a 100 yr old, 3 br house humidified. Fret sprout was the enemy. Better for my skin too in a very dry climate.
 

shredtrash

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9,756
i wonder about those humidipaks in this application.

in NM it's really dry all the time, right? that means those packs are coming with their supplied amount of water, releasing it until it's all gone, and that's it. they don't get exposed to humid conditions where they might be reabsorbing water so as to refresh themselves and maintain the equilibrium.

don't they just dry out and they're done? how often are you buying new ones?
I buy a 12 pack every 5-6 months and I humidify 2 guitars in that time before I have to buy another 12er. The first time though, you'll go through them fairly quickly because they humidify the case as well. After that, they last for a while.
 

walterw

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37,590
I buy a 12 pack every 5-6 months and I humidify 2 guitars in that time before I have to buy another 12er.
so you're basically using up a pack per month for each guitar?

i think i'd rather just get humidifiers i can refill with water for essentially nothing.

(i've heard of folks rejuvenating those humidipaks by sealing them up in big ziplock bags with wet sponges, don't know how well that works)
 

shredtrash

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A couple of packs in each guitar last approximately 2 months.

I suppose you can refill humidifiers every week but I choose a more "set it and forget it" method, YMMV. I'm not very good about remembering to refill my humidifiers every week and these keep my humidity levels more consistent with less diligence required for that consistency. I did the math and it comes out to a little over $6/month to use humidipaks in BOTH guitars. Worth the cost IMO for my situation.

I've also heard about people rejuvenating humidipaks. I haven't tried it but it's worth a shot.
 

JSeth

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2,405
In a really dry climate, you are just going to have to get used to ALWAYS keeping your guitars properly hydrated... it's a cruel twist of irony that an acoustic guitar sounds it's absolute BEST, just before it implodes from being too dry!

When I'm in a dry climate, or when it gets down below 25%rh here in Oregon (hey! It can happen!), I'll keep a Planet Waves gizmo between the strings, along with a small shallow plastic dish filled with those water beads in the headstock area... and the guitars go into their cases. Not that big a deal to re-wet the sponges in the Planet Waves gizmo, and I've yet to have to re-fresh the water beads in their dishes. The water beads can be had at the Dollar Store, and you get a buttload of them for a dollar. I poke a bunch of holes in the top of whatever shallow plastic container I use... the headstock humidifier helps the neck and the fretboard from getting overly dry (fret sprout, as someone mentioned), and the hanging gizmo takes care of the interior and body of the guitar.

It really isn't Rocket Science (and I AM the son of a Rocket Scientist!); buy yourself one of the hygrometers from Walmart or wherever, usually around $10, and take a day to calibrate it (google is your friend)... and have that in the room where your guitar's are located. When things get down below 30%rh on a constant basis, take steps or pay the price later...
 

TheoDog

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19,735
My humidity issues come in the winter in Oklahoma. Down to about 20% in Feb. I rely on the Oasis in case with a hygrometer. Only distilled water, but a $0.75 gallon has lasted years.
The only downside I see to the D’addario Humidipack is the need to buy refills. Otherwise, seems like a great product.
 

mccreadyisgod

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Messages
420
I've done well with my guitars in the dry winters, but it helps that mine are carbon fiber. Always on the stand, ready to play!
 

El Vee

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Messages
109
Please don't take my experience as a suggestion but I've kept my acoustics hanging on the wall the entire time I've lived in the desert (24 years) and haven't encountered any issues. Today the humidity here is 6%. I'm going on 20 years with a Larrivee parlor, 2 nylons strings about 15 years, a uke for 10 and a '67 Yamaha Nippon Gakki. Only the '67 needs work but due to previous owner, not humidity. I've had Gibson, Guild and Takamine for many years that showed no signs of damage. I'm sure I'll be told the damage will occur later and I'd believe it. I prefer my guitars out and available for me and friends. If the damage occurs this slowly I'm comfortable with the trade off.
 

El Vee

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109
I have a new one being delivered Saturday and you guys have me considering a room humidifier though..
 

BEACHBUM

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3,005
Vegas here. I was previously using a large tank humidifier but the water here clogs up the saturation pads so quickly I got tired of changing them out and all the cleaning involved. I've now got all of my gear set up in an 8X14 dedicated music room and I'm using one of those mister type humidifiers. I have to refill it morning ad evening but I'd rather deal with that than the science project the big one was creating. It's keeping the room at about 50%.
 

BEACHBUM

Member
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3,005
Please don't take my experience as a suggestion but I've kept my acoustics hanging on the wall the entire time I've lived in the desert (24 years) and haven't encountered any issues. Today the humidity here is 6%. I'm going on 20 years with a Larrivee parlor, 2 nylons strings about 15 years, a uke for 10 and a '67 Yamaha Nippon Gakki. Only the '67 needs work but due to previous owner, not humidity. I've had Gibson, Guild and Takamine for many years that showed no signs of damage. I'm sure I'll be told the damage will occur later and I'd believe it. I prefer my guitars out and available for me and friends. If the damage occurs this slowly I'm comfortable with the trade off.
You've brought up an interesting point. I've gone extended periods not humidifying with no ill effects. Moisture here in Vegas evaporates at the rate of like right now. In fact when I play out and take my guitar from it's protected environment into the real world of the desert you can be sure that it's basically bone dry by the time I get it back home at the end of the day. Sometimes I wonder if that ongoing cycle of humid/dry/humid/dry might be more problematic than just leaving it alone.
 
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