Low relative humidity can do more damage to your guitar than any other
environmental condition. And relative humidity changes as the temperature
changes. There is a scientific explanation, of course, but the
important thing to know is this:
When air is heated, the humidity drops,
which causes the wood on your guitar to give up moisture.
When the wood dries, it shrinks. That can cause sharp frets,
a change in action,
and in severe cases, top cracks.
Cold, dry Pittsburgh winters can be dangerous for guitars. When it's time to
turn on your furnace, it's time to use a humidifier, and keep your guitar in its case.
Acoustic guitars are more susceptible to dryness damage, but
electric guitars can show symptoms as well.
There are different models of humidifiers, but they all act on the same principle:
getting moisture into the guitar to keep it from drying out. Some simply fit in the case,
but the most effective designs get right into the sound hole of acoustic guitars.
is the relative humidity level
to shoot for. At that level,
guitar should be in
your frets might begin to feel
at the edges. It's also
possible that the
part of the
fingerboard that extends
the body could develop a
crack toward the
guitar tops can begin to shrink.
Sharp fret ends are even
cracks can appear in the body.
Tops can look sunken. Sometimes
a higher saddle is necessary
just to make the guitar playable.
and below, more guitars crack,
lots of fret filing is needed.
NOTE: High levels of humidity
(60% and above) can be just as detrimental. Metal parts can tarnish or corrode, wood components can swell, braces and bridges can become loose, and the action is
often unplayably high.
Don't forget to remove your
humidifier from your case when you turn off your furnace for the season!