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Humidifiers
instrument maintenance
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zpilot
Kansas City, Mo.
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December 22, 2017 - 7:47 pm
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I am also a guitar luthier and I tell my customers that in the winter months it is so important to keep an acoustic guitar hydrated.  I have seen cracks and warping that could have been easily avoided.  I use a Planet Waves hydrator for my guitars. 

I'm using a Dampit hydrator in my fiddle.  I really like it because I can practice without removing it.  Please consider using one if your house gets dry this time of year.  Most good cases have a hydrometer in them so you can monitor things.  I believe an acoustic instrument should be kept at 50% +/- 10.    

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damfino
oHIo, USA
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December 22, 2017 - 9:55 pm
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Case humidifier are a necessity in my area, too, with furnaces drying out the air. I haven't tried a Dampit, but I use an Oasis case humidifier. It's worked well for me. Which reminds me I've gotta put away my fiddles I normally leave out all summer. My main fiddle is always kept in a case, but my others are out on a wall, I'm guessing their pegs have slipped by now, haha.

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On a journey to learn the fiddle since July 24, 2015
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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
December 26, 2017 - 10:24 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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When I lived in Sweden and brought my violin home from work, I would hang a wet rag or container full of water over the element rather than the snake. The rag would dry out quickly but the container did a great job. The snake would dry in hours and I was too lazy to keep it moist.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Amateur
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January 7, 2018 - 7:39 pm
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Zpilot is spot on. We have an acoustic classical guitar that recently developed fret buzz until we started to humidify the case. Within a day of humidification, the fret buzz was cured and stayed cured.

I use the cheap method of a sponge and hole-punched Ziploc bag. Eventually I'll probably buy the dampits as they're lower maintenance.

The sponges have to be routinely checked for mold.

 

The ideal situation is sufficient home humidification. Excessively dry conditions can affect all other wood in your home, your electronics, and even your health.

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AndrewH
Sacramento, California
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January 7, 2018 - 7:54 pm
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I've lived in a dry climate (California) for almost the entire time I've played, but I've never had a case humidifier. I do own a room humidifier that I use if the humidity in my apartment drops too low.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
January 9, 2018 - 3:10 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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You can mop the floor several times per day too. 😉

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Demoiselle
Berlin, Germany
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January 10, 2018 - 5:43 am
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I found this accidentally, it's so important, not just because of my violin but also my spinet. Thanks so much!

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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KindaScratchy
Massachusetts
January 11, 2018 - 8:58 pm
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A month or two ago, I moved all my instruments (violins, mandolins and guitars) into one room where I've been running a humidifier 24/7. We've had some exceptionally cold weather hear in the past month (single digits and below zero some days).

I know that, ideally, the humidity should be around 50 percent but I've only been able to get the humidity up to about 35 percent. The rest of the house has been running around 25-27 percent, so it is some improvement.

I have had trouble with instruments in past years due to low humidity. I've had a mandolin and a guitar develop fret buzz and had to have them professionally fixed. Fingers crossed that I've got the humidity high enough -- if not optimal -- to prevent the same problems this year.

bunny-headbang

When the work's all done and the sun's settin' low,

I pull out my fiddle and I rosin up the bow.

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Demoiselle
Berlin, Germany
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January 12, 2018 - 5:07 am
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We have a more moist climate here in Germany, so it's easy to keep around 50% in winter. People have issues with mold because they don't open their windows enough and not wide enough, especially since windows have been modernized with sealed double glazing. That may teach us something about keeping instruments moist, because if you seal the windows in the music room, the moist of humidifiers can't go away. Which leads to moist, because if you don't open those sealed windows every couple hours here in Germany you easily get far above 50% humidity.

If you have 20% humidity outside and your music room isn't sealed, the humidity from the humidifiers will leave the music room very fast. This tells me it should be a good idea to even seal the door to that room. And possibly do something with the walls too if their wooden. If the whole room is sealed, it should be possible to keep the humidity around 50%. How would I seal such a room? Possibly fixing plastic foil under wood planking...... But maybe it will be enough to just seal door and windows because wood won't breathe fast enough to ventilate the water from humidifiers away. The door should be very critical, especially if there's a gap under it.

50% is critically, because everything above that can lead to mold. Right now I have 51% in my bedroom just after sleeping, without having opened the balcony door yet.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Demoiselle
Berlin, Germany
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January 12, 2018 - 6:02 am
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Wait a minute, I make you 80% humidity with my frying pan full of water on my induction burner. I usually cook potatoes in the bathroom to keep the humidity out of the kitchen. First I switch to 2000 watts and as soon as it boils and I forget to come back to switch it to 400 watts I get way above 50%. Heavy fog and more than you need for your instruments. So it should be no problem to get to 50% in your music room, but then you have to keep it there. Because the moisture will soon go into wooden walls to also get into dryer rooms. That's why sealing is critical. It is possible to build a room inside a room, like my rehearsal cabin and carefully seal that.

By the way, Daniel Chen once suggested to breathe into the f-holes of the violin to make it sound better. Now it really makes sense to me. Shouldn't violin cases also be sealed then? And if the hall where I play is a bit dry, Chen's suggestion seems do the trick to make the violin sound better.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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AndrewH
Sacramento, California
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January 12, 2018 - 2:18 pm
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Demoiselle said
We have a more moist climate here in Germany, so it's easy to keep around 50% in winter. People have issues with mold because they don't open their windows enough and not wide enough, especially since windows have been modernized with sealed double glazing. That may teach us something about keeping instruments moist, because if you seal the windows in the music room, the moist of humidifiers can't go away. Which leads to moist, because if you don't open those sealed windows every couple hours here in Germany you easily get far above 50% humidity.

If you have 20% humidity outside and your music room isn't sealed, the humidity from the humidifiers will leave the music room very fast. This tells me it should be a good idea to even seal the door to that room. And possibly do something with the walls too if their wooden. If the whole room is sealed, it should be possible to keep the humidity around 50%. How would I seal such a room? Possibly fixing plastic foil under wood planking...... But maybe it will be enough to just seal door and windows because wood won't breathe fast enough to ventilate the water from humidifiers away. The door should be very critical, especially if there's a gap under it.

50% is critically, because everything above that can lead to mold. Right now I have 51% in my bedroom just after sleeping, without having opened the balcony door yet.  

Not everything above that. The minimum humidity for mold growth is somewhere around 62 or 63 percent. (That said, if your house humidity is at 50 percent, a poorly ventilated bathroom may be well over 60 percent humidity.)

I'm from Houston, which is an even moister climate, and my parents' home and business both flooded after Hurricane Harvey, so mold abatement and prevention has been very much on my mind for months.

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Demoiselle
Berlin, Germany
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January 12, 2018 - 7:28 pm
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65% humidity in summer is of course no drama, but in winter it's dangerous since the walls are cold and humidity condensates easily there. In summer humidity is anyway very high but the warm air absorbs it all. I had mold in the bed room of my old hometown when I was young and dumb and too lazy to open the window. Eventually I was shocked when I saw the wooden windows and the wall papers around..... 

bunny-headbang

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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intrepidgirl
Bragg Creek, Alberta
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January 15, 2018 - 6:56 pm
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This post has reminded me to check the humidity in my house and look at the case humidifiers that I nominally put in and forget about. Not a good idea. I look at 2 of my three instruments regularly though so I am pretty aware of slipping and peg movement. I think my climate is pretty dry year-round so haven't noticed a big change between winter and summer. 

But no, @Fiddlerman I cannot mop the floor several times per day... Just not gonna happen. Unless they named a Swiffer scent the "violin humidifier swiffer" and made it smell like old wood and library books.

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Mark
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January 15, 2018 - 7:50 pm
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I think we have an affirmative answer on moping for humidity control!  

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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Bob
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January 17, 2018 - 6:49 am
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In northeast Texas, where I live, the humidity in winter can get below 20% quite often. This morning the outside temperature is 14F (-10C) and the furnace (forced air propane fired furnace) runs quite a bit. In these circumstances, I realize the humidity is too low when anytime I come in contact with a grounded metal object (Fridge, cooktop, Laptop, etc.) I receive a big static electricity shock (ouch!). There are too many things on the floor to keep mopping, so I put a large pot of water on the cook top and let it add to the moisture.

@Demoiselle when my wife and I lived in Berlin (1974-1976) we had a downtown apartment with central boiler supplying heat to the radiators. The radiators would dry the air considerably, but we had 1-2 liter containers that hung on the radiator that served to keep the humidity up. Of course the verwalter wouldn't even turn on the heat until late October 🙁

Bob in Lone Oak, Texas

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Irv
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January 17, 2018 - 11:13 am
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I would like to attempt to build some case humidifiers based on the gell balls florists use shielded by a gortex (tm) "window," but I have not found an inexpensive source for a small quantity of gortex (tm) cloth.  I don't think that it would be possible to glue the window onto a plastic container since gortex (tm) cloth contains teflon (tm), which is nearly impossible to adhere.  I think that is why the commercial products of this type have bad reviews (they tend to leak water into the case over time).  Securing the cloth with an o-ring or metal clamp should be successful.  At least that is my theory.

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Demoiselle
Berlin, Germany
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January 18, 2018 - 8:33 am
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Bob said
.......................
@Demoiselle when my wife and I lived in Berlin (1974-1976) we had a downtown apartment with central boiler supplying heat to the radiators. The radiators would dry the air considerably, but we had 1-2 liter containers that hung on the radiator that served to keep the humidity up. Of course the verwalter wouldn't even turn on the heat until late October 🙁  

When you resided here in Berlin I was a young teenager and my parents owned a house, so I don't know the law of tenancy in the 70s. But today it would be against the law, especially if the room temperature sinks under 18°C.

My violin is a 3/4 violin, made for right-handed players, though I play it left-handed. As I felt she was the best in the shop of all 3/4 violins I tried and the luthier agreed. I prefer Obligato strings together with Eudoxa E string.

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Irv
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January 18, 2018 - 9:26 am
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I perused eBay yesterday and obtained a yard (actually larger than a yard since it measures 54" by 36") of camo patterned gortex (tm) material for $10 shipped.  Let the humidifier experiments begin!

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
January 18, 2018 - 12:10 pm
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intrepidgirl said
But no, @Fiddlerman I cannot mop the floor several times per day... Just not gonna happen. Unless they named a Swiffer scent the "violin humidifier swiffer" and made it smell like old wood and library books.  

Let's not get lazy now exactly

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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