Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Humidity temperature changes and instrument care and tuning

Hey All,

Anyone have any insights on how to best care for our instruments? I have been fairly conservative with my mandolin and have typically only played it indoors in a controlled temperature environment, but in the past several weeks I’ve taken it out more as we had some warmer than cold weather in Georgia. Whenever I do that though I find the mandolin tuning goes out real quickly and can change vastly, sometime up to an entire semi-tone difference between when I first tuned it and when I started playing it. Just wondering if anyone has any tips, if this is normal, and or if I should be doing something differently to reduce the degree of tuning changes that occur when I take it from one environment to another. Really I’m mostly curious as to how temperature/humidity changes affect the instrument long term.

This is entirely natural, as materials expand or contract as they get hotter and colder, respectively. When you take your instrument outside, the temperature and humidity change will mainly cause the strings to either expand or contract (lengthen or shorten) this causes the instrument to go out of tune. To minimize this, try to keep your instruments in the same conditions when possible, and try to let them acclimate for a few minutes when the temperature does change. Other than that, keep a tuner with you and keep your tuners lubricated

1 Like

What do you use to lubricate the tuners?

That was kind of a joke, but if you have open gear tuners, and they are sticky or grindy or just don’t turn well, you can use a few drops of machine oil or a small amount of wd40 or equivalent (be careful with wd40, it may harm your headstock finish) if your tuners are smooth, lubrication is unnecessary. Hope this helps :slight_smile: