Do you care about humidity with respect to your electric guitars?

  • Yes! I keep my electric guitars in a climate controlled environment, just as an acoustic would.

  • Not really. Temperature is the main thing I keep an eye on.

  • I'm not concerned with humidity or temperature. Just play the damn thing.


Results are only viewable after voting.

birdawesome

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Been thinking about this as of late...

I've been keeping an eye on my RH meters lately, seeing that the % keeps steadily dropping with the change in weather. I used to make a point to use a dehumidifier in order to keep RH between 45-50%, but I'm not so sure it really matters anymore to be so particular about it.

For a guitar finished "head-to-toe," meaning guitars sans rosewood, ebony, etc., that have no wood exposed, does humidity or a lack thereof even really matter? I understand temperature changes are a big problem because of different rates of thermal expansion between materials such as wood and metal, but really other than the pots or pickups corroding from being in a really humid environment, a dry one really shouldn't do any harm, right?

Not to stoke the issue of nitro vs. poly finish, but if what people say is true about poly being a plastic encasing of the wood, then poly won't let any moisture in or out of the wood. On the flip side, if nitro lets a guitar "breathe" then it's letting moisture enter and exit as well...withholding the information that many nitro finishes have a poly base coat sealing it anyways.

So...what do you guys think? Do you care about humidity with your electrics at all? Is temperature your only concern? Do you not care about either of these things?

Looking forward to see everyone's perspective!
 
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birdawesome

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I live in the west so I don't worry about humidity the way I would if I were living back east. I do worry about temperature swings, but I've got AC and central heat so it's just when I'm out and about.
Makes sense. Here in Texas the temperature and humidity vary pretty greatly throughout the year, so it’s a little more difficult to keep things constant. Temp is a little harder during the summer especially since I like to turn the temp up a little higher when I’m away for the day so that my electric bill doesn’t put me into debt. It’s starting to feel good out again though, so that’s much less of an issue for the time being.
 

Fretting out

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To me it does and stuff certainly moves with humidity change (at least I believe it does)

But the humidity also occurs with the temperature of the seasons, although where my instruments are stored the temp is fairly constant so the humidity must be the changing factor

I’m not as worried about temperature as long as it’s not a drastic change
 

Jakedog

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Absolutely. Summers here have decent humidity so I don’t generally do anything. Colder outside temps mean turning on the furnace, which is forced-air heat, which dries this house out like crazy. All the guitars freak out. I keep the nice stuff in the living room all winter with a big room humidifier that keeps the main part of the house at about 50%. The guitars like that MUCH better.
 
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Milspec

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In my area, winter temps in the house will hover around 66 degrees and humidity will drop into the 20's without humidification. I don't worry about the electrics much, but I keep my home studio at 72 degrees and 45% RH all winter so the electrics get the benefit from just being in the same room.

I don't like exposing anything to low temps / RH for fear of getting finish cracks or neck instability. Real or imagined, I protect them.
 

AAT65

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Yes, it certainly does — but I live in a country which does not have huge swings in humidity so I don’t find that special measures are needed to protect guitars or adapt to changing seasons.
 

Prostheta

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Guitar maker of twenty years here. For solidbodies, it matters less than acoustics. There are a few key elements to consider with "wood". Humidity affects wood movement (expansion/contraction) along three main directions, the most significant being around the growth rings and from the centre of the (or, what was a) tree to the outside. This can affect the shape of the material if it warps around particularly tight growth rings (towards the centre of the tree) or has a lot of runout, or a lack of straightness by length. Generally this is of little consequence, but some instruments can be more reactive than others. Fender-type necks made from one single piece of wood are somewhat more prone than laminated necks where opposing forces reduce movement in the finished item. Again, these are generalisations and specific cases can buck the trend oddly! That one neck that throws a piston in the rain, etc.

The type of truss rod in the neck definitely affects the instrument; vintage type compression rods (my favourite, they produce good sounding necks) are sensitive to changes in environmental moisture, requiring more frequent adjustment than rods that are otherwise not a built-in part of the neck. When the wood moves, the equilibrium between the rod and the bow it is working against changes.

Being brief; does temp/humidity affect an instrument? Yes. Does it matter in all cases? No, but it depends on whether you have a tight range of "normal" for your instrument, or whether you are good with occasional deviations. If I have the window open on a windy day, my most stable instruments in the room can drop out of tune slightly because of movement.

The simplest way of approaching this is to avoid letting your instruments bake in the sun, sit in a winter breeze or get used as a canoe paddle in a rainstorm. The extremes are all you need to worry about, or at least be aware of. What is comfortable and common for you should be the same for your guitar. Baby it as much as is appropriate.

<edit: grammar, proofing>
 

dlew919

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In Sydney while humid, I don’t see it being a big problem. I once spoke to a guy in Darwin who couldn’t keep acoustic instruments at all due to the humidity.
 

dougbgt6

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When Leo built the first Tele's they had no truss rods. Very quickly touring owners, traveling to the frozen North and the sweltering South started returning Tele's as unfit for purpose. And we got truss rods. So the answer here is, if you're a bedroom player, not much, if you're a gigging player, yes a little, if you're a touring player, watch out!

Doug
 

Kellymay14

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Been thinking about this as of late...

I've been keeping an eye on my RH meters lately, seeing that the % keeps steadily dropping with the change in weather. I used to make a point to use a dehumidifier in order to keep RH between 45-50%, but I'm not so sure it really matters anymore to be so particular about it.

For a guitar finished "head-to-toe," meaning guitars sans rosewood, ebony, etc., that have no wood exposed, does humidity or a lack thereof even really matter? I understand temperature changes are a big problem because of different rates of thermal expansion between materials such as wood and metal, but really other than the pots or pickups corroding from being in a really humid environment, a dry one really shouldn't do any harm, right?

Not to stoke the issue of nitro vs. poly finish, but if what people say is true about poly being a plastic encasing of the wood, then poly won't let any moisture in or out of the wood. On the flip side, if nitro lets a guitar "breathe" then it's letting moisture enter and exit as well...withholding the information that many nitro finishes have a poly base coat sealing it anyways.

So...what do you guys think? Do you care about humidity with your electrics at all? Is temperature your only concern? Do you not care about either of these things?

Looking forward to see everyone's perspective!
The Humidity certainly matters with items that contain wood, at this time of year members will probably notice their house doors usually start expanding & a plane is needed.
 

mdphillips1956

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Been thinking about this as of late...

I've been keeping an eye on my RH meters lately, seeing that the % keeps steadily dropping with the change in weather. I used to make a point to use a dehumidifier in order to keep RH between 45-50%, but I'm not so sure it really matters anymore to be so particular about it.

Hi there from Sussex England,
I would have no concerns at all for the wood of the guitar, and the metal parts are mostly stainless or alloys or copper wire etc; but certainly changes in the environment have caught me out when trying to give a really fine set up on a guitar I made and sold to someone in a very different environment, ie woods and metal truss rods have different responses to changes of heat/humidity... hard to be specific as to which does more, as generally the two change in parallel.
Mark P...........

 

Wallaby

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Humidity matters, wood expands and contracts as its moisture content rises and falls, and that causes various changes in guitars.

Knowing what's going on when I detect humidity-related changes doesn't mean I control it, but at least I know what's happening. Then I cope with it and keep playing.
 

Jared Purdy

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Been thinking about this as of late...

I've been keeping an eye on my RH meters lately, seeing that the % keeps steadily dropping with the change in weather. I used to make a point to use a dehumidifier in order to keep RH between 45-50%, but I'm not so sure it really matters anymore to be so particular about it.

For a guitar finished "head-to-toe," meaning guitars sans rosewood, ebony, etc., that have no wood exposed, does humidity or a lack thereof even really matter? I understand temperature changes are a big problem because of different rates of thermal expansion between materials such as wood and metal, but really other than the pots or pickups corroding from being in a really humid environment, a dry one really shouldn't do any harm, right?

Not to stoke the issue of nitro vs. poly finish, but if what people say is true about poly being a plastic encasing of the wood, then poly won't let any moisture in or out of the wood. On the flip side, if nitro lets a guitar "breathe" then it's letting moisture enter and exit as well...withholding the information that many nitro finishes have a poly base coat sealing it anyways.

So...what do you guys think? Do you care about humidity with your electrics at all? Is temperature your only concern? Do you not care about either of these things?

Looking forward to see everyone's perspective!
I've always kept my Martin OM28 Marquis in it's case when the humidity drops to 45% or below during the "furnace season", which has started. I also keep two Oasis humidifiers in the case with it. One is in the sound hole, the other in the neck pocket.

A couple of years ago, I noticed fret sprout on my CS Strat, a guitar that I had always left on it's stand, 365 days a year. Alarmed at this new development, I immediately made two humidifiers out of plastic containers, put the Strat in the case, closed the lid and left it there for over week. When I opened it, the fret sprout was fixed and the action was way nicer. As an aside, that guitar is finished in polyurethane. Hence forth, around this time of the year I keep an eye on the hygrometers I have in my house and when they hit 45%, all the guitars go in their cases when not in use.

As an aside, I have two humidifiers that I use when the furnace comes on. One is in the basement family room and one is upstairs in the dining room - where my guitars are most of the time. Even with the two of them running, in the middle of winter the RH in the house drops below 35%.
 
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Esquire Rod

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This poll doesn't have enough options.
For solid body electrics, I pay attention to extremes. No it's not like an acoustic, but it is still wood and subject to temp and humidity. It is, and I don't want fret sprout.
I
want humidity above 40% and temp above 50 and no higher than 80deg.
 

jvin248

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.

I am not concerned with temperature or humidity because I make purchases that counteract the typical fears:

I like all-maple necks. Mixing woods causes the neck to move around more. I want a very stable guitar. I also like that maple is more locally sourced. (^fret sprout is a one time fix, find the driest time of year and file the fret ends smooth, no more fret issues).

I actually like Poly finishes best and hate the fussiness and pretentiousness of "Nitro".

.
 

Telecaster88

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I live in the Midwest with four extremely different seasons. In the olden days (Pre-internet forum days) I never thought once about RH. Maybe I noticed that on different days/weeks/months my guitar played a little differently, but I just shrugged my shoulders and adjusted to it.

Now I can tell the difference for sure (thanks, internet!) but I still don't do anything about it except shrug my shoulders and keep playing.
 
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