The guitar is generally made from thin wood. This living material imposes some rules to follow in order to avoid damaging the instrument in ways which sometimes are irreversible. However paradoxical it may appear, guitars made of solid wood, which are the most expensive to purchase, are the most fragile and the most sensitive. Solid wood, although it is the most suitable to make quality instruments, is the most vulnerable because it reacts to variations of temperature and humidity. Indeed, the wood is made of cells that swell or compress according to the degree of humidity in the air. This phenomenon is much less perceptible on instruments made with laminated wood.
Level of humidity in the air
At levels of humidity in the air between 45% and 70%, we are in an ideal situation and no particular precaution must be taken.
Between 35% and 45%, the soundboard and the fingerboard begin to retract. The playability of the instrument may be less pleasant, but the guitar is not in danger.
Below 35%, things go bad. Damage can occur on the instrument, such as crazings on the soundboard or back. At this point, it is important to intervene and mitigate this state of dryness. It is essential to increase the level of humidity, either by placing water containers near radiators (a source of drought in apartments), or by creating a microclimate within the guitar by using a humidifier.
Above 70%, the wood of the soundboard starts to swell, making the guitar more difficult to play. However, the risks in an overly humid atmosphere grow very quickly. Indeed, a guitar exposed over a week in these conditions may risk detachment of the bridge, bracing, etc. To protect your guitar, the first precaution is to avoid removing it from the case except to play. The second is to obtain “silica gel” packets to protect the body of the instrument. How to evaluate the degree of humidity or dryness in the air? Simply by using a hygrometer, which will give you, when properly calibrated, the precise humidity. Less precise than a hygrometer but more economical, the reactions of your body can give you indications. For example, if you have a dry throat, that can indicate that the humidity is lower and it is possible that your instrument is suffering.
When we deliver our instruments, we suggest to our customers to consider their instrument as a real person. An example: “Would you put a friend in the trunk of your car to travel?” In fact, it’s the same for the guitar. So the personification of the instrument helps limit the problems. In summary, the hygrometer, the silica gel packets, and the humidifier are three essential elements to protect the qualities of your guitar for a long time.