high blood pressure is the silent killer to humans, then low humidity is your acoustic guitar’s silent killer.
Do you live in a dry climate? Or, suffer through those static electricity shock winter seasons?
Will SensorPush measure up to spotting low humidity?
The exact humidity your acoustic guitar likes to live in is debatable, but the differences are minimal.
Here at Acoustic Tunesmith, we keep guitars snug and cozy between 45 and 55 percent relative humidity.
Where we currently live, winters bring wood cracking humidity readings as low as 22% relative humidity. That my friend, will suck the moisture out of your guitar faster than a college boy on a free pizza.
There was a day we used to moisten a sound hole sponge, shove it in a guitar, close the lid, and cross our fingers.
If we suspected things were getting dry, we’d slice up a zip lock bag, put a very damp rag in it, and put it in the body of the guitar for a day or two.
And again, hope for the best.
While this last bit is an inexpensive way to triage your guitar from severe dehydration, you don’t want your acoustic guitar getting to that point.
Problem was, we never really knew what percent humidity our guitars were living in. Now, we know exactly what that number is, anytime we want. Without even opening the case.
At this very moment, my own Martin HD-28 acoustic guitar is resting at a comfortable 70.0 degrees with 49.8% humidity.
Before we let you in on our secret weapon, here’s just a few dangers a dry guitar can suffer:
What low humidity does to your acoustic guitar?
- Buzzing strings.
- Shrinking fretboard.
- Protruding fret wire.
- Sunken top.
- Rattling tuning peg bushings.
- Loosened machine head screws.
- Internal braces splitting.
- Glue letting loose anywhere… X-bracing, bridge, embellishments…
- Mysterious buzz.
- Cracking finish.
- Split guitar top.
Some of the damage can be pretty serious… and permanent. Not something you want your acoustic guitar to endure, even if it’s worth hundreds of dollars, and especially thousands of dollars.
We looked at the various guitar humidistats out there. They were okay, but we found a gem which wasn’t even advertised as a humidistat for guitars. Surprising too, because one of the creators of the product is a guitarist, and partly why he developed it
Here are the things we like about it:
- Simple, small design, stash it anywhere.
- No buttons, sliders, or switches to mess with on the unit.
- Able to be calibrated (though we had no need).
- Accurate within 0.3 degrees and 0.5% humidity (which is negligible with a salt test).
- Bluetooth enabled, there’s no need to open your guitar case to see readings.
- Alerts your mobile device when humidity drops too low, or gets too high.
- Wi-Fi accessible, from anywhere there’s connection to the net.
- Long lasting replaceable battery.
- Easy set up in less than a minute.
Mobile app handles several devices.
- Gives you a daily average.
- Exportable CSV report.
Simple, small design, stash it anywhere.
The sensor unit is very small. A durable plastic housing approximately 1” by 1” by 3/8”. You can stash this thing anywhere. In your string compartment of your case. Velcro it to the case near the headstock of the guitar, or even inside your acoustic guitar’s body.
Basically, any nook or cranny it won’t touch your guitar finish.
No buttons, sliders, or switches to mess with on the unit.
There are no physical settings on this unit. That means you can Velcro it inside your guitar, where humidity really counts, and not have to worry about getting at it.
A great place is inside the guitar where the neck meets the body. It’s out of the way of any pickup wires and won’t mess with the acoustics.
Able to be calibrated.
Easily calibrate the unit with a couple increment and decrement buttons in the app.
To check accuracy, simply do a temperature and humidity test using salt, ice, and zip lock bags. SensorPush even shows you how to do that if you wish.
While it’s nice they offered calibration, we had no need to calibrate it. It was well within margin of error a salt test can bring.
Perhaps in more adverse conditions or higher elevations it is helpful to calibrate it.
We found this unit to be accurate within 0.3 F, and 0.5% humidity.
And this was testing in an environment of 24% relative humidity using zip lock bags, salt, and ice.
While the testing method is plenty accurate for this purpose, there are more accurate humidity testing methods if you care to spend money on them.
We found SensorPush to be reliably accurate. Much better than the reviews of the models designed specifically for guitars.
In fact, feedback on inaccuracies in other units is why we chose SensorPush. Some name brand accessory companies had reviews by experienced players as high as 10% or more!
We were looking for an accurate, set it and forget it model. We’re well pleased with SensorPush.
No need to even open your guitar case.
All information is given through your smart phone. There’s no need to even open your guitar case to check up on your little sweetheart. As long as you have Bluetooth turned on your phone or connected to Wi-Fi, you can keep watch over your axe.
Alerts you when humidity drops too low, or gets too high.
This is where this unit pays off. If you’re temperature or humidity of your guitar drops below the limits you set in the app, it sends you an alert to your phone.
There is no need to worry if your sponges are drying out.
When it lets you know, simply open up your guitar, re-moisten your sponge system, or whatever humidifying system you have, and you’re done.
Set these limits using a simple digital slider.
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi accessible from anywhere.
If you’re in Bluetooth range, you can get all the information on your guitar.
If you get the gateway model which has Wi-Fi capability, you can check up on your guitar from anywhere in the world as long as you have Wi-Fi access.
Long lasting replaceable battery.
The watch battery powering this unit is replaceable. We’ve owned our first unit for over a year and it hasn’t needed to be replaced yet. I expect it will last much like a watch, for years on end before needing replacement.
When you do, simply separate the two plastic housing pieces, replace the battery, and put the two pieces back together.
Easy set up.
Open the app, access the Add Device button, and hover or lay the SensorPush device on your phone or iPad screen.
It will automatically find the unit and pair it to Bluetooth. Give your device’s profile a name, and your guitar is instantly being monitored.
Setting up through Wi-Fi is similar using the Add Gateway button under Add Device.
App handles several devices.
You can manage and monitor several of these devices from one app. Put one on every acoustic guitar you own.
Remember, if you are using just a sound hole sponge system, your acoustic guitar’s external finish is not being humidified.
You may want to humidify the inside of your case as well, and occasionally use two SensorPush units. One for inside your guitar, and one for inside your case. Make sure you name them accordingly.
For example, <YourName> Martin HD-28 Internal and <YourName> Martin HD-28 External.
Gives you a daily average.
Temperature and humidity can easily fluctuate up or down. While you are monitoring the air around your guitar, and perhaps it drops below the limit you set, it doesn’t necessarily mean your guitar itself is that dry yet.
SensorPush provides you with a daily average. If you’re average is above your lower or upper limit without huge dips and spikes, you’re likely just fine.
Exportable CSV report.
Your SensorPush unit will send you a report with all the data in a SCV file.
At first, we thought this feature was of little use. Frankly, we questioned why it was even there. Until we pulled a yearly report.
We were shocked.
We downloaded the file and opened it with MS Excel. Using the sorting option, we sorted the temperature column in descending order to show the lowest number at the top.
And that’s when we nearly wet ourselves…
We found in February my guitar went from a steady comfortable 70-degrees plummeting down to 32.8-degrees within an hour.
The humidity had been a comfortable 45%. But, during the hour it too dropped to 22.1% during that time. It suddenly spiked to a wet 91% for a short time.
We linked the change due to a winter trip to have dinner with a studio engineer.
I thought with the car being warm for an hour or so prior, it’d stay climatized for a short time. I was wrong.
A mistake we’ll never make again at Acoustic Tunesmith, thanks to using a hygrometer.
So, this could be a very valuable tool in monitoring how rapidly your guitar can be in a perilous situation.
You can pull reports from an hourly report to a full year. It takes a reading every minute.
This feature turned out to be a very helpful tool.
Dependability wasn’t mentioned in the points above, but we’ve been using SensorPush for over a year now and it never once pulled an error, or disconnected from the unit. It has worked flawlessly.
One thing we’d like changed.
For all its praise, nothing is perfect.
There is one change we’d like to see.
Dump the temperature and humidity alert sliders, and simply add the alert limits by typing numbers in an edit field, or add the decrement and increment buttons like the calibration setting has.
The slider is pretty hyper sensitive and perhaps fiddly for some people.
This is getting really picky by the way.
We really like SensorPush as an acoustic guitar humidistat option. And it is plenty affordable.
For us, it’s a must have for peace of mind our guitars are surviving dry winters without damage.