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A lesson in humidity and humility
Author
Post
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 671
I've been building all winter in my garage and I've know all along that the humidity was too high - around 60 percent. We would bring in our snow covered cars and let them sit there next to the little guitar I was building.

One week inside at about 35 percent



Bring your marshmellows and come on over.


Here is what I was hoping it would look like (sorry about the bad pictures but right now I really don't give a s**t). It was to be a gift to my daughter




Mar 29, 08 | 4:49 pm
jhowell

Total Topics: 37
Total Posts: 676
Freeman--

That is a gorgeous guitar. Take a couple of deep breaths and just route the binding off the back and then remove it. Put a new back on. The guitar is worth saving!

Mar 29, 08 | 6:44 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
It could even be salvaged as it is, those cracks are definitely correctable. Good luck with whatever you do, and I am sorry to hear about it.

Mar 29, 08 | 6:56 pm
Jim_H

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 212
Ohmygoodness, I can't imagine who bad that must suck...

Is there any other damage ? Are the top and neck ok?

Mar 29, 08 | 8:18 pm
Ted

Total Topics: 22
Total Posts: 158
OUCH! I remember when I knocked my last one off the work bench - at least you don't have to blame your physical stupidity. I'm with Ken - Now you get the oportunity to become the greatest guitar repairer on your street. You'll be surprised how good a recovery job you can do with some dust and spuerglue.

Scroll down a little to June 10 on my blog for a little confidence builder. If I can do it, you can Freeman.

Mar 29, 08 | 10:52 pm
llajoy

Total Topics: 6
Total Posts: 295
I have one I call my drop guitar. It's the fourth one I built and has a 3 pc back. I sprayed the final coat of lacquer, hung up the guitar and turned around to clean up. Then I heard a clunk. It had fallen off the hook assembly straight down on the concrete floor of my shed. It had 4" cracks both front and back. I managed to glue the front crack and went on with the process. Once I got the neck on I was buffing the guitar with a brand new buffer. The buffer burnt thru the headstock, so I had to refinsh and buff again. On the last round of buffing the pad grabbed a corner and guitar landed on the floor with a broken neck. I still can't get the action right, I'm figuring the new neck is not sitting correctly.

Of the 5 guitars I've completed, I plan to take at least 3 of them back apart to some level and redo parts. But I figure I need to get the building process better before I start major repairs. 3 of my last 4 builds (my 6th went together well, but is still in process) have gone well, including the one above. That one just suffered from mishaps.

By the way the day after it fell on the concrete floor, I went out and purchased two sets of floor padding. I also changed my hangers so they have internal wing nuts, not just threads. We learn from our mistakes, I have been learning a lot.

Mar 30, 08 | 2:46 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Geez, Freeman, that's a tragedy. So sorry that happened. We will all learn a serious lesson here, at your expense I'm sorry to say.

My very first guitar got destroyed in December mainly through my own lack of foresight ... I know the feeling and empathize.

In a few months, you'll maybelook at it anew and decide to repair it ... hope so -- your work is worth it.

Bill

Mar 30, 08 | 4:09 am
moocatdog

Total Topics: 35
Total Posts: 302
Oh, man. That's a bummer. Hope you can find a way to salvage your beautiful work. Did you leave the guitar in the workshop throughout the build? Or did you bring it in the house when you weren't working on it? I'm not looking to point fingers, just hoping to learn something.

George :-)

Mar 30, 08 | 1:09 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Thanks, all. First, I want to apologize for my post - if I could edit it (hint Bill) I would. Second, I'll try to fix it. Third, for George, no it was in the shop/garage all winter (about 4 months). I knew it was humid (even had my hygrometer out there) but there wasn't much I could do (and I'd already built four under the same conditions). I brought it in for a week and left it on a stand (ironically the case arrived the day it broke) which I know is a no-no. I was planning to do the final buffing and setup, then keep it in a humidified case.

I had actually had a few other issues during building - after bracing the back I had to chisel them off because it flattend out - I redid it with thicker and more curved braces and seemd OK. It is also possible that the smaller guitar with a very narrow waist had more stress because of the compound curve of the back - the back seemed to glue fine to the sides but is certainly domed more than say a dread. There is also one crack in the side of the lower bout - even tho it is small I did put the vertical braces four places on each side.

Anyway, will try to fix it. Current plan it to pull the neck, reinforce the back with some patches, dig out the cracked areas and either graft some rosewood into it or maybe just fill with superglue (or epoxy) and rosewood dust. Sand and reshoot a few dozen coats - no biggie.

Bottom line, if you can control the humidity in your shop, do so.


Mar 31, 08 | 6:12 am
dan g.

Total Topics: 12
Total Posts: 27
Ouch, that's painful to look at!
Good luck with the repairs...that guitar's far too pretty for firewood.

Apr 01, 08 | 7:35 am
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
I would try to repair wothout splicing in wood first, if I were you. If it doesn't work, you could always splice afterwards, which would remove the failed repair. I think the cracks will close up as they were, since there doesn't seem to be any splintering or chipping of the wood. Good luck, and let us know how it works out.

Apr 01, 08 | 11:44 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Freeman,
I feel for you man. Your guitar is awesome, and very worth saving. I think you can fix it up just fine with superglue. I use it to fill voids in wood for my knife handles all the time, and they virtually "disappear".

I am building my first guitar in a garage shop. The relative humidity right now in my area of California is around 30%. I haven't even checked what it is indoors yet. I read somewhere, and it makes perfect sense to me, that it is probably better to build in a low humidity and then use/store the guitar in a higher humidity. The idea being, better to take on some moisture than to loose it with the shrinking and possible damage taking place. Now I also understand that taking on too much moisture would not be good either.

Anyone else building like this in low humidity where it is difficult to control the humidity in the shop? Do you think I will be okay with this approach?

Kevin

Apr 03, 08 | 7:30 pm
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
I have one of my early guitars that did this on the top. I just called it elongated sound hole technology. This guitar has been on 3 CD's as it sounds very good just got a crack
john

Apr 03, 08 | 8:06 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Kevin - I build in my garage. Humidity here in the winter is about 25% tp 30%, so I've been forced to carry my work back and forth from my little humidified storage/guitar stuff room, where it's a constant 47-48%. It's not as bad a hassle as it sounds.

Apr 04, 08 | 5:43 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Bill - Where are you storing the finished guitars and at what humidity if not in your storage room? I have only one factory acoustic - a Fender - and it stays in the house, sometimes on a stand, sometimes in the case, and has been fine for going on about 7 years now.

Kevin

Apr 04, 08 | 5:52 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Kevin -- they all live in my little room, literally hanging from the rafters and walls. I have eight of them in there right now. So, they're all in the same humidity. The only one outside this room is the 000 I built for my daughter; so far, so good. (I have a whole-house humidifier installed on the central heat now, so the minimum in the house is about 30% -- but before I installed that, the house would get as low as 15% when the weather was in the teens and lower.)

Here's a picture I just shot. The room is 8x11 feet, has a chair, a stool, a workbench, and a little bit of everything -- basically a mess, but it's actually an organized mess :) . Just enough room to retreat and play some, keep the wood humidified, and get away from the world when I need to.


Apr 04, 08 | 6:28 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Bill,
I am envious, but I won't be covetess! I have no place to have a room like this. The extra bedroom is a my wifes quilting room. The guest room has to remain a guest room.
Well I am in the central valley in California, and the humidity stays fairly constant, but does increase some in the spring and fall. I had a guitar from my teenage years I purchased in 1969 that spent a couple of years in the garage....in its case...untouched, and the neck warped pretty badly, but no other damage to the guitar. I think I will be okay, but I do need to check and see what the humidity is in my home, especially once we start running the A/C.

This is a different subject but since I have you here - I'm really interested in a more natural finish for my first guitar. Would you recommend the Tru Oil as a good choice for this? This won't be a beater guitar, but it will get out a bit, to church mostly.
Thanks.

Kevin

Apr 04, 08 | 11:38 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Kevin -- Tru oil is a pretty tough finish -- and easily repaired. In a long, long thread about it in the finishing forum, (still there, I think), one of the guys mentioned that it would take a month or so for the finish to really harden. It's easy to use -- has a nice warn, golden tone when it gets three or four coats. No bad funes, no sprayer needed. I like it for the whole body and neck -- I use 0000 steel wool on the neck to give it a "satinized" finish.

Apr 04, 08 | 12:51 pm
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Well, I was able to fix it pretty well. This was taken while the respray was pretty fresh - I'll do a final color sanding and buff in a couple of weeks



If anyone is interested here is how I did it

http://acapella.harmony-central.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1952120

Apr 14, 08 | 6:30 am
llajoy

Total Topics: 6
Total Posts: 295
Looks great. Good thing you didn't have that marshmellow roast.

Apr 14, 08 | 2:18 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
EXCELLENT!

Apr 15, 08 | 6:22 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Mine don't look that good and they never have cracked...Really nice repair!

Apr 15, 08 | 10:06 am
moocatdog

Total Topics: 35
Total Posts: 302
Nice work. Hope you are pleased with the end result. It looks great from here.

George :-)

Apr 15, 08 | 5:19 pm
Andy

Total Topics: 57
Total Posts: 350
Freeman, you're a natural mate. Very nice work !

Apr 19, 08 | 4:48 am
Andy

Total Topics: 57
Total Posts: 350
Here's my fix for snow and low humidity. I've grown bamboo and palm trees around my "pocket" guitar workshop.


Apr 19, 08 | 12:01 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Thats just rude andy....lol. It's just starting to get warm here. And now that all the snow is gone, we have cougars running wild in our neighborhoods. You all might have heard about the couger caught and shot in Chicago. They chased another in my neighborhood yesterday morning, 12 miles north of Chicago, a block from my house. I have furballs that are too big to be caughed up from an owl or housecat....the coyotes we have don't cough them up like that , and neither does the fox, our other new neighbor, so I bet he's been around here at night. you'd think we live in the wild west, but it is actually a fairly densly poulated, long established suburb of chicago, houses on 50'x150' lots, a quarter mile from the express way and a huge outdoor mall, stuff thats been here and established for 60-100 years. Crazy.

Apr 20, 08 | 11:23 am
Andy

Total Topics: 57
Total Posts: 350
"I have furballs that are too big to be coughed up ......."

Ken, you've got stop preening those cougars ;)


Apr 20, 08 | 5:37 pm
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
lol

Apr 20, 08 | 7:33 pm
Terry

Total Topics: 41
Total Posts: 220
Here' another one of my dumb questions . . . this one is probably about #6gazillion . . . how does one test the humidity in his shop?

Terry

Apr 23, 08 | 3:30 pm
Terry

Total Topics: 41
Total Posts: 220
I live inCottage Grove Oregon, in the central Willamette Valley. My guitars are built in my garage/shop. Actually it is full time shop til a car breaks down. My guitars live in my house with only a wood stove for heat. I also have a Gibson J180ec (Maple w/spruce top) that was built in Montana. None of my guitars have seemed to be effected by humidity even though I do nothing to protect them. But now, after reading this thread, I'm a little jumpy! Again, how does one test humidity?

Terry

Apr 23, 08 | 3:38 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Go to Radio Shack or any electronics store and ask for a "Hygrometer," then explain to the clerk that it's an indicator for Relative Humidity. You can also find hygrometers at a tobbaconist: They are used in cigar humidors, etc. However, the digital models like you can get at Radio Shack for about $20 are usually more accurate.

If you want to get silly about it, you can get an expensive one ... but the cheap ones are rarely more than 5% off if at all, and that's usually close enough for guitars.

With your guitars inside with a wood stove, I think you're going to be surprised how low the humidity is there. It's good that your guitars are in good shape. If you humidify your work area and then bring the guitar you built into your home where the wood stove sucks away a lot of moisture, you could have a problem with the new guitar even though the existing ones are fine. In your situation, I'd try to build the guitar in a similar humidity to where your new guitar will live.

Generally, 40 to 50% Relative Humidity is recommended for building, but you situation might call for something different.

Bill

Apr 23, 08 | 5:29 pm
Jim_H

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 212
Bill,

I don't think radioshack carries the inexpensive hygrometers any more. There were none in any of my local stores, and the clerk looked in their inventory system and said they are listed as 'discontinued'. They are also not available on radioshack.com (although they have the weather units on the website). The other places you mentioned are all good sources.

I've picked up several inexpensive units from Walmart, Amazon.com and my local music store. I've have 8 or 9 of the things laying around to compare and move into different rooms. I also picked up two of the "humidipak" calbration bags to test them. I've found that all of the hygrometers are fairly accurate (within 5% of each other based on comparison to a calibrated unit). However, one of the units I have reads extremely low. It's a "Caliber III" that I picked up from a cigar dealer on amazon, and it reads about 20% low. Lesson learned there is, if you get a cheap one, get two, just in case one of them is way off.

Also, "Humidpak" sells units that can be calibrated using the small bags (sold separately) and they don't cost much more than the non-calibratable units. I bought them on Amazon.com.

As far as 'cheap' units, my local walmart has a small temp/hygro meter that costs about $6.

Apr 23, 08 | 11:27 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Thanks Jim -- I haven't tried RS in awhile so was unaware.

Re the Humidipaks frm Planet Waves -- They recalled them about a year ago because of leaks and haven't re-released them yet. I'd check yours ... serial numbers recalled are on their website. Latest news fom PW is that they can't seem to solve the leak problem and there's no new release date projected. Darn shame -- that's an excellent concept.

Apr 24, 08 | 4:19 am
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
Terry, I have a Plant Wave hygrometer - $20 or 25 at a music store (just the meter, not the whole Humidipak). It is about 3-4 percent off (using the saturated salt/water test) - I assume it is linear and just add 4% to all the readings. In my shop it was reading between 60-65 when we would bring snow covered cars in for the night.

The main thing is that you want to store your wood and build in the same environment that your gits will spend the rest of their lives - ideally 40-45% RH. I'm in Eastern Washington and knew darn good and well it was too moist in my garage/shop but chose to build anyway. Oh, well

Ken. your cougar stories are interesting. We also are seeing more signs of them where I live - deer kills, pets being attacked, some human-cat interactions. There was an interesting article lately that said that by banning hunting (with dogs) the population of young male cats has dramatically increased and they are ranging more into populated areas - the females and kttens tend to stay away from people. Anyway, like so many other natural balances we have pretty much screwed up the big preditors and their habitat. We had a couple of great horned owls hunting in our yard (and nesting in a nearby park) - they did a pretty good job of reducing the local house cat population LOL

Apr 24, 08 | 7:54 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Freeman -- Joke's on me -- I use a Planet Waves hygrometer too and completely forgot about them -- mine shows about the same degree of error.


Apr 24, 08 | 11:25 am
Jim_H

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 212
yea, Bill,

It was the Planet Waves case humidifiers that were recalled (I have one here, but I don't use it). The Humidpak hygrometers and the calibration bags are actually quite good.

Incidentally, if anyone had a guitar damaged by a Planet Waves humidpak, they will pay for any repairs.

Apr 24, 08 | 1:59 pm
Andy

Total Topics: 57
Total Posts: 350
I did some checking on the web looking at what the Mean Humidity for Nazareth PA is so I could compare what RH would have been in the old Martin factory would have been. Seems that if I build in mid to late winter here it would be like building in non-airconditioned workshop during summer in Nazareth PA.

Now that's a piece of trivia I can pull out as riveting dinner conversation, which will really get people to sit up and take notice of me ;)


Apr 24, 08 | 3:05 pm
Terry

Total Topics: 41
Total Posts: 220
I found an Oasis Hyrometer at Musician's Friend . . .$25 + S&H

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/product?sku=421666

What do you think?

Apr 24, 08 | 3:20 pm
Jim_H

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 212
Terry,

The Oasis is good. It's a rebranded generic meter. I've seen several brands around that look exactly the same but have a slightly different logo (the Caliber III I mentioned in my previous post is one of them).

They have a website where they sell many other products as well.

Oasis Humidifiers, etc...

Here is the calibratable hygrometer I was talking about from Amazon. You can get it with one of the humidpak calibration bags for $20 not including shipping.

Adjustable Round Digital Hygrometer

I don't see them on their website, but if you really want to save some money, go to Walmart (if there is one near you) and grab a couple of the $6 temp/hygro meters they sell. I have a couple of them and they are just as accurate as the $20-$30 ones I got at the music store.

Apr 24, 08 | 5:34 pm
Jim_H

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 212
Here is a picture of part of my hygrometer collection (the oasis is missing - can't remember where I put it :p )



The white "Springfield" in the upper right is the one I got at Walmart for $6. The PlanetWaves was $29 I think. They both do exactly the same thing.

The skinny black one middle left is the "Caliber III" I got on ebay. It always reads low. Sometimes by a lot... sometimes by a little. I don't trust it. It looks identical to the oasis except for some comsetic differences, but I have no idea what is different on the inside.

When all of them were put into the calibration bag, they were all within a few % of each other except the Caliber III, which was way low.

Note that the small round one is the calibrated one in this picture. It was switching back and forth between 29% and 30% when the pic was taken. Not sure why the humicase is so high (maybe because I had been holding in my hand). Also the small round one normally readys in farenheight... not sure how it got switched to C.

Apr 24, 08 | 7:14 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Hygrometer Collectors of America .. unite. :)


Apr 25, 08 | 4:43 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Jim -- Actually, it was not the case humidifers that were recalled -- it was the in-guitar Humidipaks. The packettes in some of them were leaking. If you have one (or more) check them against the serial numbers given in this advisory.

http://www.planetwaves.com/humidipak_consumer_advisory.html

Bill

Apr 25, 08 | 4:47 am
Terry

Total Topics: 41
Total Posts: 220
Thanks alot guys . . .

Apr 25, 08 | 11:37 am
Jim_H

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 212
Bill,

There is actually a reason I have so many. I had collected them up with the intention of putting together a web review. I ended up abandoning the idea, as there was no real substance to justify putting a web page together for it.

Apr 26, 08 | 12:17 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Jim -- just ribbin' ya (and the rest of us who have multiples ...)

Apr 26, 08 | 4:58 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
And here I sit. I don't have a one yet?
I feel deprived!

Apr 26, 08 | 6:19 am



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