So here’s a question for ya – did it ever happen to you that your guitar played amazing one day, just how you like it, and then sound like crap the next day? Apart from you simply not being in the playing mood one day, there’s a simple – and more objective – answer to this question: humidity.
Depending on where you live, humidity can be anything from a minor to major issue, but still something that’s always present and that should be placed under control. Your instrument is primarily made of wood after all, and wood is very susceptible to moisture and can impact a guitar in many ways.
And that’s where humidifiers come into the picture! A properly humidified guitar is a happy guitar, and you can get a good humidifier for a pretty low price. Therefore, there’s no reason not to get one, and we almost see these puppies as important as having a decent cable or a good tuner.
We decided to delve deep into today’s market and single out the best guitar humidifiers it has to offer. But first and foremost, we wanted to offer you a detailed insight on how humidity can affect your guitar and what to do about it. Dig in!
The most reliable way to determine whether or humidity is an issue is to get a hygrometer and test things out. A good choice in our opinion would be the Oasis OH-2, an affordable, convenient and quite accurate device crafted with guitars in mind.
WRONG. Sure, light humidity issues bring only minor damage, but if you don’t bring it under control, major damage is inevitable and irreversible. Here’s how it basically goes:
When humidity drops under 35 percent, your frets start feeling sharper, your guitar experiences action changes, and the top flattens out a bit.
When humidity drops below 25 percent, frets feel very sharp, playability is decreased, the instrument’s finish begins sinking, and a slight separation appears between the top and bridge. This is where it gets bad, bud not as bad as the following option.
When humidity gets to under 15 percent, you’re screwed. At this point, cracks start appearing on the body, bridge and fingerboard, and all the glue joints begin separating. This is that irreversible damage we discussed, and a point where you should immediately take the instrument to a pro to fix it.
Considering that you can get a humidifier for as low as $5, it really makes no sense to expose your guitar to damage that will cost way, way more than that to fix.
We’ll discuss the matter more thoroughly in a minute, but for those in need to leave already, allow us to present you with what we see as the best guitar humidifier on the market – the OH-1 from Oasis:
The gel is also not prone to leaking as much as water is, and stands out as a far more practical and efficient solution. It’s light, made in the USA, and matches the needs of any guitar player to a tee – in our humble opinion, at least. Do check it out!
Alright so now that we’ve covered the basic grounds, let’s dissect these puppies a little bit, shall we? Thy might seem like a basic product, but there are actually three types of guitar humidifiers, and you need to take a deep look at all of ’em to see which one suits your needs best. So, types of humidifiers for guitar are:
Sound hole humidifiers are often the No. 1 choice of acoustic guitar players. They are usually quite simple and easy to use, feature a small size and tend to be on the cheap side because they don’t have to humidify an entire room or a guitar case, but just the six-string itself. Typically, these devices are either fitted into a sound hole all the way in or attached to the strings above it.
A fine example of a product of this kind an potentially the best sound hole humidifier for acoustic guitars out there is the Music Nomad MN300.
And we are NOT talking about a regular ole sponge here, but a special so-called Humid-i-Bar sponge, a nifty little item capable of holding up to 10 times its weight in water without losing a drop thanks to the innovative anti-drip technology. This thing can last you for quite a while as long as you treat it right, which is not an arduous task at all seeing that the device requires almost zero maintenance.
Another thing we can say on this matter is that it’s not a bad idea at all to consider humidifiers that are specialized for your guitar brand. Some manufacturers go above and beyond to see which humidity factor suits their instruments the most, and craft a device that costs like the rest of ’em, but is simply optimized for their goods.
For example, the Martin Guitar Humidifier is a very sleek and elegant option, and an item worthy of being the No. 1 choice of Martin players. It utilizes a water suction stem that can hold up to 10 times its capacity in water while steadily emitting moisture through the cracks. It’s very elegant and very Martin – check it out!
Finally, since this IS the most common type of humidifiers after all, we decided to bring up D’Addario’s humidifier, a valid option for the budget-conscious users and a similar system to the Music Nomad item we just listed. Fits between the strings, no clips no fasteners, effective sponge system, easy to use. Give it a look.
Up next, guitar case humidifiers are the ideal solution for players who keep their guitars in cases most of the time. Generally, keeping your instrument in a case is a good choice, as it keeps the instrument protected both from physical damage and more environment-related factors such as humidity. However, to keep the six-string entirely safe of humidity, placing a humidifier inside that casing is still a must.
An example of a good humidifier comes from D’Addario in form of their two-way humidification system. This fella was crafted specifically with closed small environments in mind, and one of the top reasons why we recommend it as the best guitar case humidifier is the fact that it was optimized so you don’t have to do anything except stick it between your guitar’s strings.
Additionally, if you want a cheap option, check out theAttmu humidifier – it’s small, convenient, efficient, durable enough and will cost you as much as a set of picks.
Finally, an equally valid option is to simply adjust the humidity of your entire room. Keeping the humidity around 45 to 50 percent good not just for your guitar, but for your health too, so why not both?
If that happens to be the approach you’re interested in taking, then we say that opting for Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier is a perfectly valid choice. This fella is clean, efficient and durable. The device has been optimized for smaller and medium rooms, and in our experience most guitarists store their precious instruments in rooms of that size.
Alright, so which type of humidifier is the best? Well, that heavily depends on how you use your guitars. The basic premises here are quite simple – if your guitar spends most of its time on a wall mount or a stand in your room, room humidifiers are the way to go. If you keep it in a case, go with the casing or sound hole options.
But that’s also where it gets trickier. For you see, storing your guitar on a wall mount for too long is NOT good as it exposes the instrument to dust and other elements that can hurt it.
So in our humble opinion, the best place to store your guitar is within a hard casing.
We know that it’s nice to have your instruments hanging on a wall, but the safest place your guitar can be is tucked inside a hard-shell casing. These cases offer protection from all the dangerous elements, and placing a solid humidifier inside will indeed keep your axe in tip-top shape at all times.
These devices are simple to use, but there are still several things you can do wrong that can significantly screw things up. Also, there are several things you can to do maximize their efficiency. Here goes:
Well, there is that myth circulating the guitar realm out there, but no, it is absolutely NOT true. While it is true that natural aging causes cell crystallization and hardening, resulting with a louder and more dynamic sound, this has absolutely NOTHING to do with dryness, which will only cause damage and require structural repairs in the long run.
Alright, so guitar humidifiers will set you back up to few tens of dollars. And if you don’t use them – and you have humidity issues – the damage can range from those same few test of dollars for minor fixes to several hundred, if not a thousand dollars for critical structural repairs. So just don’t mess around, get a humidifier!
No. Sure, acoustic guitars in general are more fragile and using a humidifier with them is more of a must, but hooking up your electric guitar with a humidifier is still a must nevertheless.
This especially applies to instruments crafted in recent decades, since most of them were kiln-dried and not air-dried like many vintage instruments. The key difference here is the simple fact that kiln-dried wood utilizes heat to dry the wood and accelerate the process of aging process. This means one thing – moisture required! Simply put, these instruments are more prone to cracking, and humidifying them properly is the only way to prevent damage.
As for vintage air-dried guitars, moisture is still needed, but yes, damage is less likely unless extreme humidity conditions apply.
While we’re discussing the whole matter, we might as well address another frequently asked issue – is it worse to leave the guitar in a hot environment or a cold one? Well, both are bad.
On one hand, excessive head – caused by leaving your guitar in a trunk of a van during a hot sunny day for example – can cause glue joints failure. Worst case scenario? Your guitar falls apart, basically.
On the other hand, switching from a cold environment to a hot one causes finish damage. Worst case scenario? Your guitar develops cracks. But more frequently, finish checking appears. Checking is essentially tiny cracking that makes it look as if a hairline was laid to your guitar, except it’s a crack. A tiny crack no polish can get rid of, ever. Can be infuriating, indeed.
Technically, yes, it is possible to make your own humidifier, but you risk making your instrument wet, and why do that for something you can buy for way under $10 and rarely more than $30?
As for used ones, you never know what a second-hand humidifier has been through and whether it might crack all of a sudden and, well, why risk that for something you can buy for way under $10 and rarely more than $30?
Alright, we’ll keep this one plain and simple. First of all, you need a good hygrometer to know the status of your room, which is around. Then, for an excellent humidifier for your guitar or guitar case, we say around $20. You can stop here, but you can also throw in a good room humidifier for the ultimate package, which is no more than $40. Overall, the answer is either around $50 or under $100.
Seeing that the damage humidity can cause is usually 10 times more expensive than the prices we just listed, we say you’re looking at an alright deal.
And this brings us to the very final stop of our ride, boys and girls! We hope you enjoyed the journey, learned something new on the matter of humidity and how it affects guitars in general. Additionally we would like to point out that each of the items listed here stands out as a product you cannot regret purchasing and the best guitar humidifier across a variety of categories and price ranges.
The brief conclusion we have for you is that guitar humidifiers are not optional, they are A MUST – in our book, at least. They’re cheap and they keep your instrument in proper shape, so feel free to look around a little, jot down your favorite and treat yourself with a new humidifier as early as today. This is one of those investments that will likely save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars, so don’t be lazy and arm your self with some humidity control!