Forgetting to humidify your acoustic guitar in dry weather is like letting your pet’s water dish go dry for a week! If it ever happens, we show you how to humidify your acoustic guitar under $2.
Your guitar likes to be kept comfy within a range of 45% to 55% humidity to keep it healthy. Before we find out how to keep your stringed buddy from damage, let’s take a second to look at what happens when humidity it’s too low for your acoustic guitar.
Right now, the relative humidity here is 24.4%.
That’s extremely low.
If we didn’t have a way to humidify our acoustic guitars, we’d be neglecting them. They’d be in serious trouble too.
What low humidity does to your acoustic guitar?
- String buzz.
- Fretboard shrinkage.
- Wire frets protruding from fretboard.
- Sunken top.
- Tuning post bushing rattle.
- Machine head screws loosening.
- Internal bracing breaking free.
- Glue letting loose anywhere… bridge, saddle, embellishments…
- Mysterious buzzing.
- Spider cracking in the finish.
- Cracked guitar top.
You can see, some of the damage is pretty serious… and permanent.
Now, the good news is guitars can be pretty forgiving, if they haven’t been let go for to too long. And, it doesn’t have to cost you much to get your musical buddy moist and sassy again.
You could bring it to a luthier or repair shop. You could purchase some humidifiers made from special moisture emitting material.
Or, you could make a trip to a local dollar discount store and…
Humidify your guitar for Less than $2
We brought a sunken guitar top back up to its original arch in 72-hours with just the following items:
- Plastic soap dish.
- Kitchen sponge.
- Ziploc bags.
- Dish rags.
To re-humidify your guitar, you’ll want to humidify it both externally and internally.
Humidifying your guitar internally.
- Use a one-quart Ziploc bag.
- Fold the bag so it creases in the middle of the top surface. Make sure the back of the baggie remains flat or away from the creased front.
- Use a scissors to make slices in the bag’s top surface. Be sure to keep slices approximately 1” away from the bags natural side creases.
- Make a series of slices 1” to 1.5” apart across the top surface of the baggie (being careful not to cut the backside of the baggie).
- Saturate a thick dish rag or small dish towel.
- Gently squeeze enough water to a point you can hold it vertically by one corner for a minute or two without drippage.
- Fold the rag to a size it will fit into the baggie.
- Insert the moistened rag into the baggie, and zip the end of the bag shut.
- Make sure the baggie is completely dry on the outside.
- Carefully slip the bag into the sound hole of your guitar. Make sure the sliced side is facing the sound hole, not the bottom of the guitar.
- Lay the bag flat on the bottom of your guitar. The slices will allow moisture to escape and yet keep any damaging moisture from soaking into the wood.
- Make sure you keep your case flat, and out of the way from accidental damage.
Humidifying your acoustic guitar externally.
In addition to the internal humidifier method, you’ll want to keep the outside of your guitar moist too. This will not damage or harm the finish whatsoever.
- Prepare a baggie and moistened cloth with the same steps as you did with the internal method above.
- Put the bag in your guitar case pick box compartment. You might have to adjust the size of the baggie you use, and fold the dish rag to fit in the compartment.
Using the soap box humidifier
In addition to both of the above methods, you can use a soap box and a sponge.
Plastic travel soap box containers are available at a local dollar discount or department store.
These come with slots or holes in the top, or solid top and bottoms.
You’ll want the type with slots or holes. If all you can find are solid ones, you can drill your own holes, but the burs need to be filed smooth to keep from any damage to your guitar’s finish.
- Purchase a plastic soap dish and kitchen sponge as thick as the soap dish is high. You could also double up a thinner sponge.
- Cut the sponge to the size of the soap dish. Hint: Two sponges from kitchen scrub pads fit perfectly inside a travel soap dish.
- Moisten the sponge to the point it will not drip when lightly held with thumb and finger. Or, give it a couple light shakes to extract excess water.
- Insert sponge into the soap dish and put the lid on. You may want to use a rubber band to ensure the top won’t fall off.
- Slip the soap dish in your guitar’s case where it can fit. You might try placing it at the head of your guitar or along-side the guitar body and the case. Anywhere it will fit without pressure or damage to your guitar’s finish.
- Be sure to face the slotted lid away from the body of your guitar. We’ve put ours at the head of my guitar facing the outside with no issues.
When you’ve done all the above, close up your guitar case for 72-hours. Find a safe place where you can keep it flat. We want the Ziploc bags to lay flat.
It’s critical to not let water come in contact with the wood directly.
There you have it. Your guitar vacationing in the tropics for less than $2.
If your guitar is quite dry and has a flattened or sunken top, this should bring it back up within 72-hours.
Depending on your climate, you’ll likely be able to just use a soap dish and perhaps a sound hole humidifier to maintain humidity.
You’ll need to keep an eye on the sponge or humidifier’s dryness. It can be a challenge to keep guitars at the perfect humidity range in harsh, dry winters.
But it doesn’t have to be difficult.
A hygrometer is a fantastic little tool you can use to monitor both humidity and temperature. And they’re relatively low-cost.
But, they are only as good for your guitar as they are accurate.
In our research, we found many which were not accurate at all. Some as much as 10% relative humidity or even higher.
If you’re interested in the hygrometer we trust to monitor our guitar’s safe humidity and temperature, check out the one made by SensorPush.
It’s super accurate.