Natures' Own Humidifier

Does my instrument need a humidifier? What kind should I use? How do I know if it is working? First of all let me say that people living on the upper gulf coast don't need humidifiers. Having said that, I will admit that with modern climate controls there are possibly many needs for a humidifier to keep your guitar, mandolin or what ever from drying out. But how do we know if we need one, or if it is working?

Here is one solution.

  1. buy an apple (preferably a crisp one, a cooking apple).
  2. cut it neatly into two halves.
  3. eat one half.
  4. place the other half in the "string compartment" of your case.

That's it, you are done except for looking at it periodically.

If you do NOT need a humidifier the apple half will mildew. So throw it away and try again in a few months. If you DO need a humidifier the apple half will slowly dry out over a period of months. It will release the proper amount of moisture for your instrument and make your case smell nice and fresh. In a typical New England winter with steam heat you may go through two or even three apple halves as they dry out and shrivel up. Down here one half will probably last all winter.

While the Apple does work, sometimes guitars get REALLY dry. Whether from climate or season watch out for these warning signs:
1) Your action gets lower: If this is caused by the face and back of your guitar flattening or sinking in - it is TOO DRY.
2) The frets are sharply sticking out of the sides of the fingerboard: Ebony is a notoriously unstable wood. It will visibly shrink if it gets TOO DRY.
3) In addition you may get Dry Skin rashes in sympathy with your guitar.

If any or all of these symptoms appear you might want to consider getting a Humidifier for your house or music room.