GUITARS & CLIMATE CHANGE

 
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Our shop, recently, received several (many) acoustic guitars with changed action and neck misalignment(s) even though owners made efforts to ensure their guitar is in a controlled climate, or in a case, or breathing open air (A/C) kept in house. Despite owner care and handling these guitars changed.
 
Some guitars we received had high action, underset necks, and dehydrated bodies while other guitars had signs of overset necks, fret buzz, and bloated bodies. These are symptons of: CLIMATE CHANGE to a guitar.
 
 
Procedurely, when a neck is underset with high string action the remedy is a neck reset followed by a full fret dressing. Conversely, the same procedure is the remedy for an overset neck.
 
We've changed our analysis when now we see these conditions. That is, prior to looking at mechanical dsyfunctions we are now examing a guitar's hydration to see whether an instrument is over-hydrated or under-hydrated.
 
Hydration is more easily spotted on an acoustic guitar as opposed to a solid body, but semi hollow guitars such as Ibanez Art Core(s) or ES 335 style guitars do show signs of hydration. Naturally a full size archtop (Jazz Guitar) will show definite signs of hydration positive or negative.
 
The question presented is what is causing pos/neg hydration in the tropics such as South Florida?
 
Conventional wisdom tells us that dry heat will dry guitar wood while 100% humidity will over saturate guitar wood or, frankly, any wooden instrument (e.g., violins, cellos, and pianos).
 
As a side note for those that own or may have owned a piano, many of us may recall that pianos had a damp chaser installed in the piano or had one installed. A damp chaser being a heated element that controls moisture over the sound board in the piano. Not being a piano expert the presumption is a damp chaser chases over-moist conditions, but is shut down when not needed. Thus, even pianos have a method to balance moisture content.
 
We've argued that the high humidity of So. Fla is not dangerous for guiatrs; moreover, that bottling up an instrument in its case is stifling; further, that letting a guitar set out in the open is healthy unless there's a cold snap and heat is turned on or hurricane like weather makes 100% humidity a constant. Well we are changing our line of thought effective immediately.
 
We still condone allowing an instrument to sit in open air on a stand as opposed to a closed case understanding precautions during constant 100% humidity. However, controlled air (i.e., air conditioning) we now believe impacts an instrument more so than thought. That is, A/C does remove moisture from the air. You know, that hot moist humid air that makes us uncomfortable. Thus, A/C removes needed or required moisture for wood. An overlooked change of climate that impacts a wooden instrument.
 
Accordingly, today, we now concur with the wisdom that a 40-50% humidity factor is the "Goldi-locks" environment for a guitar. We recomend that owners should have a "hygrometer" in a music room or locale where instruments are kept to monitor humidity.
 
Our shop now has a humidifier that monitors (controls) humidity 24 hours a day everyday. This unit balances moisture at a set level of 60% and it makes a difference.
 
For those that want more information about "humidity" and its effects, see our article titled: GUITARS & HUMIDITY.
 
Also, Mr. Bob Taylor (of Taylor guitars) has a very good video on the Taylor web site that addresses what climate change does to a guitar. Here, Mr. Taylor forces a dehydration of a Taylor guitar to show what happens to a dried out guitar. We recommend viewing the video.
 
In close, as aforementioned, we are now upgrading our instrument analysis' to take a first look at a guitar's overall condition prior to rushing to make mechanical corrections that may not be necessary if spotted in time.