Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Time to humidify

Alot of our furnaces are running again & that means it’s time to get out the humidifiers.

I had to have alot of work done on my Gibson J-60 guitar a couple years ago due to my own neglect, so now I’m pretty faithful about humidifying. I have a Kyser lifeguard, a couple Dampits & an Oasis. The Oasis is kind of a pain but I guess it works. I don’t see how the tiny amount of water that it holds actually does anything, but it’s what Collings recommends.

But what about the neck? These are all for the soundhole. I’ve heard of people making a humidifier out of a sponge & a freezer bag. Simply poke holes in the bag & put a damp sponge inside & throw it in the case. That along with the soundhole humidifier should do a pretty good job I would think.

A high end guitar builder recommends “nature’s humidifier”. He states on his post to cut an apple in half. Eat one of the halves & place the other half in the headstock area of the case. If the guitar is dry, it will soak up the moisture from the apple & the apple will dry out & shrivel up & you just put another one in. This will last a month or two depending on condtions. I actually tried this last year & it really worked. It even acted as an air freshener in the case. It never did rot, it just dried out.

Anyway, protect your instruments. I learned the hard & expensive way. :frowning: The J-60 has been rock solid ever since Glaser’s in TN made the repairs. :smiley:

Does anyone use a hygrometer & do they actually work?


Thanks for the reminder.

I use the sponge in a baggie for cases and they do a great job.

I have a hygrometer. I got a little digital one at Walmart for like $8.95 and it works great. Some will say that a cheapie digital can’t be calibrated and it may not be accurate. However, it does readily respond to changes in humidity and that allows me to know what the trend is doing. You can also check the accuracy fairly easily using a wet salt solution in a sealed bag.
Here’s a uTube on it:

I have never felt a strong need to check the accuracy. Like I said, even if it is not accurate, it’s predictable and lets me know the trend. I might do it with mine someday just out of curiosity.

FWIW, I am showing 41% right now, and the house humidifier will get fired up soon. Probably the next cold front.

— Begin quote from "jwpropane"

He states on his post to cut an apple in half. Eat one of the halves & place the other half in the headstock area of the case.

— End quote

Does it still work if you don’t eat one of the halves?

— Begin quote from "jbsjr"

Does it still work if you don’t eat one of the halves?

— End quote

Wise guy, eh? :laughing:

Good thought on eating the apple half! I wouldn’t want to mess up the instructions.

Right after posting last night on here about my cheapie hygrometer, I happened to go to WalMart again. They still had the model I bought several years ago, so I bought another one… (it was $8.94… my memory was way off). Once it settled down, it was within 1% of the other one last night. This morning it is showing the exact same number. Mine may not be accurate, but they are consistent. Now I am a little more curious to see how accurate it is.

This may expose me as a science geek, but in lab terminology your meters are precise but not necessarily accurate.

Alright! Since we have at least one other science geek, I am going to run the experiment to see how accurate they are. Results will be forthcoming…

In the mean time, here’s a little something I think most geek/musicians will appreciate:

Musical Scientist! :laughing:

That guy is super talented. It would have taken me a year just to do the video production.

It would have taken me a year to make the Einstein sock puppet :frowning:

— Begin quote from "jbsjr"

Does it still work if you don’t eat one of the halves?

— End quote

No, it will not work. You have to eat the one half. Not only will your guitar top crack, you will also get the flu. :laughing:

— Begin quote from "ldpayton"

This may expose me as a science geek, but in lab terminology your meters are precise but not necessarily accurate

— End quote

This is the same terminolgy we use in weights & measures too.

Mike, I went to Wal-Mart (which I usually despise doing) & picked up the $8.94 hygrometer. I’ll see how it works. I looked on Amazon & none have good ratings, not even expensive ones. Most of the reviews say they’re incosistent & give false readings. That would make it inaccurate & incorrect. :laughing: Let us know how your expirement goes.

By the way, the apple thing is on Ken Miller guitars (from Florida) web-site. Go to kenmillerguitars & its under care & maintenence.


Well, the RH reading have stabilized. In theory, if I did the salt to water ratio correctly (which is a big if), I should see 75%. One hygrometer shows 69%, the other shows 65%. A few observations and conclusions:

  1. The two units stayed pretty close to each other into the upper 50’s so I would say they should usually correlate well with each other at least in the range I observed today from 41% to 58%.

  2. Even if I got the goop mixture right, I am not sure what I learned other than the readings are low (which I view as on the safe side) as well as they diverge when we get to higher humidity ranges I don’t ever see indoors. It very well could be that they are spot on, read low or even read high when we are in the range of 35-50 I typically see indoors. Apparently, if I get some magnesium chloride, I could repeat the experiment and it should give a reference RH of 33%… a more useful data point.

  3. The unit I have had has generally been a good guide for me based on supporting anecdotal evidence. For example, if you have carpet or a cat, they seem to be excellent indicators of low RH due to the generation of static electricity. If you or your cat are shocking everything, it’s probably pretty dry. When a cold, dry front goes through, my hygrometer has shown me the drop and I knew to start supplementing with case humidifiers. If it isn’t exact, no big deal. It still shows me relatively how humid it is. Whether it is 25% or 30% doesn’t really matter as I need to get some moisture going either way.

Before I started writing this post I changed the salt/water mixture (with less water, now just damp salt) and sealed it back up. I just went and checked and the one that was at 69 is now at 70 and the one that read 65 is now 66… Pretty exciting stuff. I think I’ll probably stay up and watch it tonight to see if changes again.

Does anyone know what kind of apple gives the best humidity range in a case?

The final numbers were 72% and 68%.

Seems like your instruments are safe no matter which one was right.

I remain extremely concerned about the apple technique and if eating or discarding one half of the apple could skew final results. While you are doing all this high tech testing, would it be possible to conduct some tests/monitoring on typical apple scenarios and publish the data here? :unamused:

I’ll work on the apple testing… I wonder what effect it would have if I baked a pie with the half of the apple to be eaten.

Is this where I sign up for the apple pie testin’/eatin? :smiley:

Yup, it’s about that time of year. I think I’m going to try out the soap dish sponge deal this year. Been using a Dampit in the soundhole, but I’m not sure that is humidifying the whole case/guitar. Little worried about the fretboard.

— Begin quote from "mreisz"

I wonder what effect it would have if I baked a pie with the half of the apple to be eaten

— End quote

The manufacturer’s instructions does not specify how the apple is to be consumed. Therefore I would think that baking it in a pie would count. What are you gonna put in the other half?

My new Wal-Mart special humidifier is showing betwwen 40% and 42% using a dampit in the soundhole. If it reads a little low like yours seem to Mike, then I would think that’s a safe number. I may go to a sponge in the case though. I’m like Shawn & concered about the neck. I haven’t felt any sharp edges on the frets yet and that’s usually a sign of overdryness along with strings buzzing.

What is the correct humidity supposed to be anyway? Let us know how you pie turns out Mike.


— Begin quote from "jwpropane"

What is the correct humidity supposed to be anyway?

— End quote

40% to 50% is the normally quoted range. 50% seems a bit high to me, and my target on my non-calibrated h-meter, I shoot for 36 and above.

Here’s a bunch of anecdotal observations that are worth the price you pay for them… I have yet to get out my humidifier during the summer, and it is not abnormal to see 35% when the AC was running a fair amount. In the winter, once we get Northern air masses in here to stay, I run the humidifier all the time, unless we get the gulf air mass here and it gets up to around 45% (on my non-calibrated h-meter). When I have trouble keeping the house at 35%, I take the instruments off the walls, and they go into the cases, often with case humidification. Below 35% is where I start getting static, dry skin, nose bleeds, etc. It may seem odd to say I don’t worry about 35% in summer but I start worrying around 35% in winter. There is a basis to that other than my observations on how the guitars are reacting: Dry cool air is different than dry warm air . The air’s capacity to hold water doubles with about every 10 degrees F (hat tip to my meteorology professor). There is more water in the 35% air that is 76 degrees (my summer indoor temp) than there is in 35% air at 68 degrees (winter). I have found that moisture in the closed case does seem to migrate well. I have put the h-meter in the headstock area with humidification in the body or even the accessory case. After leaving it shut overnight, the headstock area was nicely humidified as well. I know people that never humidify, they have guitars out all winter in KY, they probably have air that stays in the 20 something % range for weeks on end, and they haven’t had any cracks. I know people that have left their instrument in car (in winter) for an hour or two and ended up with multiple monster cracks right then and there. I think rapid changes greatly increase the likelihood of cracks, but that’s just a hunch based on what I have seen. Instruments (particularly rosewood) seem to sound much better when not overly humidified.

That’s about all I can think of. Some of it may be right, but I am certainly no expert.

For what it’s worth, I got a humidifier down today and have it cranking. I knew where the humidity was heading when the cold dry air hit this morning.