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  • Is your guitar too hot to handle?

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    Dealing with heat and humidity and the effects on your guitar.

    In Australia, we are no strangers to extreme heat and humidity. Our average relative humidity sits roughly between 50 & 65%¹ for our eastern coasts and anywhere between 30 & 65%¹ on our western coasts. Obviously, these figures vary from place to place so it’s a good idea to find out where your town rates with relative humidity. The ideal humidity situation for your guitar is between 40 & 50%, so as you can see, humidity can easily be an issue for guitars in our climate.

    Different problems will affect your guitar if there’s too much humidity and also, too little. Thankfully, low humidity is not a huge problem we face, but high humidity & heat are our biggest killers. In many cases, problems from low humidity can usually be fixed, but high humidity can cause irreversible damage, particularly to solid or solid top acoustic guitars.

    The ideal temperature range that your guitar should be exposed to is between 18° & 24° ², again, a huge issue we face in Australia when we have such hot summers. Storing your guitar away from direct sunlight, away from heaters in winter, & in a case is extremely important. If storing your guitar in its case, it’s important to regularly check the guitar for any significant changes. Steer clear of leaving your guitar in the car at all on a sunny day. Even if it’s packed away nicely in its case in the boot of your car. In this case, literally, the case will not save you! It will not protect your guitar from sun-related temperatures.

    Let’s have a look at some humidity & heat related problems that can occur:

    Too wet (very high relative humidity):
    • Strings appear to have moved further away from the fretboard causing high action
    • The top and/or back of the guitar appears to be swollen or warped
    • The neck seems to have moved to an improper angle
    • Necks, fingerboards and/or bridges come unglued
    • Warped neck
    • Lifting finish
    Too dry (very low relative humidity):
    • A hump develops in the neck around the area where the neck meets the body
    • Strings appear to have moved closer to the fretboard causing a buzz
    • The top of the guitar starts to sink
    • The bridge starts lifting
    • Warped neck
    • The fretboard shrinks in width, causing the frets to extend beyond the neck. AKA: sharp frets
    • Cracks appear in the body of the guitar. Cracks can also appear around joins. E.g. where the neck meets the body.
    • Cracks appear in the fretboard
    • Seams/joints begin to separate
    High Temperature:
    • Glue fails in joints and bracing
    • Bridge lifts due to glue softening
    • Split wood (particularly Solid top guitars that are joined in the middle)
    • Expansion and contraction of frets (and strings)
    • Neck warps due to the truss rod expanding and contracting (usually a truss rod adjustment will correct this)
    • Weather checking in the finish (Permanent!) Usually occurs when going from cold to hot temperatures very rapidly

    So what can I do?

    Well, all of this weather information may seem like you need to go get a degree in meteorology, but it’s actually quite simple to take some preventative measures to ensure your guitar lasts longer and avoids these issues. The best tip we’ve heard: If you feel uncomfortable (too hot / cold / sweaty) in a room, then your guitar is probably feeling that way too.

    • Do not leave your guitar in direct sunlight EVER
    • Keep your guitar in the same area/room of the house to avoid rapid temperature/humidity fluctuations. E.g. constantly moving from an air-conditioned room to a hot temperature area is not advised
    • If bringing your guitar from cold to hot (or vice versa), don’t open your guitar case right away – leave it alone until the outside of your case has returned to the new room temperature.
    • Don’t use heaters anywhere in the room that your guitar is stored in (A/C’s do not affect the relative humidity to the extreme the way a heater does)
    • Use a two-way humidifying system, which is readily available in Australia. The system will release or absorb water vapour to maintain a relative humidity of 45%-50%
    • Keep your guitar in its case when not in use
    • Regular guitar maintenance!
    • Go the extra mile and get a hygrometer to regularly measure the humidity
    • ALWAYS loosen the strings when flying!








    References

    ¹https://www.livingin-australia.com/climates-australia-cities/ ²https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Guitar/Guitar_Maintenance_and_Storagehttps://www.premierguitar.com/articles/Fighting_the_Humidity_Battle https://www.artisanluthiers.com/blog/how-to-prevent-guitar-humidity-temperature-problems/ https://www.taylorguitars.com/sites/default/files/10_SymptomsofaWetGuitar.pdf https://www.taylorguitars.com/sites/default/files/10_SymptomsofaDryGuitar.pdf http://www.guitarfact.com/finish-checking-guitar



     

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