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Humidity question
Author
Post
naccoachbob

Total Topics: 26
Total Posts: 261
Guys, I just received my StewMac Dreadnought kit on Saturday. Somewhere in my reading I saw where humidity needs to be between 40 and 50%. Well, it's about 64% here in my house the last couple of days. East Texas is humid all year round, and even though we have gas heat, our house probably won't change much. Summertime should be pretty similar.
Rather than purchase a dehumidifier, I think I'm going to try to live with what we have, since the guitar will live here once built and there shouldn't be any dramatic changes.
Is 14% that big a deal? Does anyone disagree?
Thanks in advance.
Bob

Dec 13, 09 | 6:27 pm
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
Hi Bob,

Yes I disagree --- As indicated below in the first two paragraphs of the SM instruction manual, building a guitar in high humidty conditions is not a very good idea --- when the wood shrinks cracks occur. You may dodge the bullet with a drop of 15% -- but if your furnace burns off all the mositure in the house and the humidity gets in the 20% range for a few day the top and back of the guitar can turn into a potato chip. And yes case humiditifers work well -- if we remember to charge them every day!

Per SM:

Also, it’s very important to acclimate the wood to your building
environment. The ideal building environment temperature
is 70-80° Fahrenheit, with a controlled relative humidity
of 45-50%. The kit wood should be laid out and allowed to
“equalize” for one week in your shop. Flip the wood daily to
neutralize excessive warping. Depending upon your location
and the season, you may need to humidify or dehumidify
your shop to maintain the desired relative humidity. It is advisable
to purchase a thermometer/hygrometer to monitor
your shop’s climate. If you’re unable to control the relative
humidity in your shop, we discourage building the guitar
during the transition from dry to wet seasons, or vise versa.
The radical change in humidity can cause warping, splitting
or other serious complications.

Building a guitar for the first or for that matter the third or foruth time is a learning experience, so in my view it is important to try and understand each of the assembly operations as they relate to the finished instrument. Sadly not all instruction manuals are perfectly clear --- but none the less its best to follow the instructions to the letter in the belief that the writer has a process that works in the long run.

Ken

Kenneth Michael Guitars est. 1978

Dec 14, 09 | 4:57 am
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
The important thing is that the future humidity be close to what the wood was aged at and what the guitar was built at. If you heat your house at all the humidity will be very low - not uncommon to see 30 to 40 percent regardless of what it is outside.

I had built 4 guitars in my garage during the winter, then

http://www.kitguitarsforum.com/forum/threads.php?id=2673_0_2_0_C






Dec 14, 09 | 6:16 am
naccoachbob

Total Topics: 26
Total Posts: 257
Yes, we heat it to about 73 and our summer temp stays at about 73 also (central air and heat, with gas heat, electric air).
I'm going to get a hygrometer to check out the actual RH. The one I have at home is one of those wall things that has temp, RH, and barometric pressure.
It read 64% for 2 days, then I took it outside for about 45 min, and it read 80% or more. It was overcast all day, and rained the day before and day after.
Like I said above, east Texas is a humid place, year round.

Dec 14, 09 | 10:52 am
Freeman

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
You can calibrate you hygrometer (room or one of those little case style that you can buy in a music store) by putting it in a baggie with a saturated salt/water solution (a small cup of salt, pour enough water into it that not all the salt dissolves). Leave it overnight - the humidity should stabilize at 75%. If it is something different, read the instruction to adjust or add/subtract that amount from other readings (assuming linearity).

Also, if you wrap it in a wet wash cloth it should read very close to 100 %, but the saturated salt solution is the accepted way to do it.

Remember that central heat really does wring a lot of moisture out of the air - even up here in the great (wet) pacific northwest.

Dec 14, 09 | 11:24 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Bob,
I have a similar sort of problem with my next build. I'm in central California where the humidity is higher in the winter than in the summer. I have built two guitars in my garage shop basically not worrying about the humidity, but with most of the building going on in late winter/early spring with humidity levels around 50 to 60%. I did the sprayed lacquer finish on the second guitar in September with humidity at around 30%. So far both guitars have fared fine, the first one now about 14 months old.

My problem with the next guitar build is that it will be "living" in India where the humidity range is going to be about 50 to 90%. What to do!!!!

I am going to try and build it at around 60%, but it is going to be difficult to keep it there while I do the finish, which will happen around May or early June I'm hoping. Then, I will have to keep the guitar humidified until it goes to India which will probably be next Octoberish. Then I am going to instruct the owner...(my son-in-law) to keep it humidifed until he gets it to India, and hope it doesn't swell too much when they have their summers.
The Cort guitar he has there now I purchased here in the states, and it is swelled up big time right now with the action way too high...but there isn't anything really to do.
Anyway, an interesting challenge for me. I am hoping I can do it right so the guitar survives well there in the tropical climate.

Kevin

Dec 14, 09 | 11:35 am
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Kevin -- I've had to rehumidify a guitar I'm working on whose top sank because I left it in the garage here in cold weather -- 15% humidity -- for a few days. It has taken a week to get the top to be arched upward again. One of the things I did was close the soundhole with a rubber soundhole "feedbackbuster" and put a soap dish with a very wet sponge in it to humidify the inside while the room humidifier did the outside. The inside humidified up to 50% while the outside was only about 45%; now I have them balanced.

What I'm wondering is -- would some kind of secured internal (inside-body) humidifier work for you while you are building and finishing? Maybe a soapdish and sponge taped to the back or to the neck block, with a feedback buster soundhole plug ... ? ... Just thinking.

Bill

Dec 14, 09 | 2:01 pm
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Some good thoughts to ponder Bill. I had hoped to get the box built while the humidity stays high so I could have a "unit" to keep humidified. That idea of yours might be a way to do it, especially while the thing is being sprayed.
What is a "feedbackbuster"?

Kevin

Dec 14, 09 | 3:00 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
The feedback buster is a rubber insert that goes into the soundhole. Guys like Tommy Emmanuel and tap players like Kaki King use them in the soundhole so that their very high gain and volume on their pickups won't result in feedback.

Here's a link on Amazon. They're available at music stores.

The only reason I recommend this is because it's removable. However, it covers a little bit of the edge of the soundhole. You could reverse it and pull it up into the soundhole so it wouldn't cover any of the area being finished ...

Dec 14, 09 | 3:15 pm
naccoachbob

Total Topics: 26
Total Posts: 257
I bought an electronic hygrometer today and it's measuring a very pleasant 48% humidity in the office/room where I'll be putting this kit together. Whew! The old one musta just been worn out.
I appreciate the ideas everyone put out here, and just glad I didn't have to buy a dehumidifier. Mama ain't real thrilled with the things I'm getting, being as Xmas is upon us. lol

Kevin, good luck with the project for India. I hear it can be terribly hot/humid there in their summer season.

Well, off to construct some spool clamps, I got enough parts to do 32 of them for about $50, including the felt for cushioning.

Dec 14, 09 | 3:15 pm
ChuckHonore

Total Topics: 1
Total Posts: 4
Hi All -

I'm in Chicago and am having trouble trying to keep the humidity in my work area between 40%-50%. I've got a Honeywell humidifier that says it will humidify a 600 sf space (my shop is about 200sf) and it just can't seem to keep up. On cold dry days it struggles to make 35%-40%. Does anyone have suggestions for a good, durable humidifier?

Thanks

Dec 21, 09 | 8:20 pm
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
35% is not a problem -- building a guitar in very high humidity and moving it to very low humidity conditions is what causes the cracks. Plus, if the guitar is actually "glued up/assembled" when the humidity is ideal that is all that really matters -- that's when the parts will be smaller then their mean size. Its not to say that the shop moisture does not need to be controlled -- but there is a great deal of leeway if assembly timing is considered --- I doubt if Torres or Chris Martin 1 had humidifiers or dehumidifiers.

Ken

Kenneth Michael Guitars est. 1978

Dec 22, 09 | 4:44 am
Adaboy

Total Topics: 64
Total Posts: 509
Bob, electronic hygrometers are notoriously inaccurate. You should try measuing the humidity with a sling psychrometer (sp?) and see how far off new your hygrometer is.

Dec 22, 09 | 9:41 am



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