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Precautions - Humidity Extremes

Updated: Apr 10, 2018

As we approach the heating season, I’ll throw out my usual advice about instrument care. Keep the humidity up! Wood in an instrument remains hydroscopic for most of its life. That means that the cells in the wood will absorb or release moisture in response to the relative humidity in the environment. In layman’s terms that means that wood swells when the humidity is high and shrinks when low. The swelling is not usually a problem unless it is extreme in which case you can get soundboard distortion. Shrinking is more of a problem especially since the soundboard is glued or bound on its edges. If it shrinks to much it can split. To avoid that scenario, keep a humidifier going in your house or practice room. If you live in really humid areas of the country, dehumidification makes sense to avoid soundboard distortion. Your instruments will thank you and I won’t have to do the repair. For more tips on instrument care visit my web page on the subject.

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