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View Full Version : Time to start deploying your humidifiers!



mikelz777
11-01-2014, 04:26 AM
As I was listening to the news this morning they were reminding the audience to set their clocks back one hour tonight for daylight savings time and added that it was also a good time to check/replace batteries in your CO2 and smoke detectors. That and the increasingly cold weather got me to thinking about my ukes and when I checked the humidity levels in my house, I saw that they were dipping into the mid-30s. It's time to start using humidifiers again!

This will be my 2nd winter with a solid wood uke that definitely requires humidification so it's the 1st time I've needed to remember to start using a humidifier again.

sukie
11-01-2014, 04:27 AM
I keep my case humidified all the time. It's during summer I am just more casual about letting it sit out. Now I gotta remember to put it back in the case all the time. Dang.

mikelz777
11-01-2014, 04:46 AM
I keep my case humidified all the time. It's during summer I am just more casual about letting it sit out. Now I gotta remember to put it back in the case all the time. Dang.

I'm relatively new to the humidification game so I've been keeping a closer eye on the humidity levels in my house. From Spring to early Fall, the humidity levels in my house have ranged from the low 40s% to 50%+ so I didn't bother with a humidifier during those months. It looks like I'm back in the game until next Spring.

IamNoMan
11-01-2014, 05:41 AM
I'm relatively new to the humidification game as well. In the thirty odd years I've played the banjo I've never had any problems with heat or humidity problems. I suspect humidity is less of a problem with wooden necks and pots. Well now that my house has been invaded by ukuleles I'm not sure where to start. In the basement where the boiler is we actually humidify the space but occasionally have mold problems. My attic space is cross ventilated. Never had any problems there. The rest of the house is heated in winter, (hot water) and cross ventilated in summer. Outside temperatures seldom swing more than 30 degrees per day year round. Inexpensive instruments for measuring RH are notorious for bad calibration. IE three different "calibrated" devices located a foot apart register up to 30 degree variation in temperature for wet bulb or dry bulb temps.

What type of instruments do you use to determine the relative humidity in your house? When I use humidification for my ukes: what precautions do I need to consider for the materials of the cases they are stored in? I know the ideal RH recommendations for wooden instruments is cited at 40% to 55%. I've read that in high RH conditions a very small change in RH ~ 5% has vastly different effects ie 80% to 75% RH drop has a different impact than 70% to 65% drop.

This is rather confusing to me. Of the five elements earth,air,fire,water, and wood; I understand wood the least. I see no reason why my ukuleles should have to suffer because of my ignorance.

Kayak Jim
11-01-2014, 06:49 AM
I use a LaCrosse Weather Station with 2 remotes (they also have simpler/smaller/cheaper models). This gives me my house inside temp and humidity, outside the house temp and humidity and inside my uke cabinet temp and humidity. To check calibration I bring both remote sensors inside near the base unit. They all read within a couple of % RH of each other. I repeat the check in a steamy bathroom with same result.

72454

http://www.lacrossetechnology.com/9037/index.php

Ukejenny
11-01-2014, 07:02 AM
I live in the land of humidity, but we do have gas heat, so I am keeping my instruments away from exterior walls and thinking of getting an essential oil ultrasonic diffuser to help with the humidity in our house.

coolkayaker1
11-01-2014, 07:06 AM
http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?57739-Tip-On-Inexpensive-amp-Extremely-Effective-(too-effective-)-Humidor!

I have used this now for two full winter season for over 20 ukes at a time. I stack the Sterilite boxes. Magic! No mold, no issues. Highly recommended.

wayfarer75
11-01-2014, 07:15 AM
It's very humid here in the summer, so there is no point putting humidifiers in the cases then. I just started humidifying last week. When it gets really dry, more than one humidifier goes into each case. My ukes are stored in a walk-in closet without any heating vents, so the temperatures and humidity don't change rapidly. An Oasis goes in the body and I have various other small humidifiers that can go in the headstock area. Planet Waves makes a nice one that's the perfect size.

I was able to get through last winter with no problems. I figure it was the worst case scenario weather-wise, so I must be doing something right.

IamNoMan
11-01-2014, 08:55 AM
What constitutes "really dry"?

kvehe
11-01-2014, 09:03 AM
Sometimes I think the Oasis people would not eat without my business. :)

Having had an unfortunate experience with a uke two years ago, I've become quite obsessive about both case and room humidity.

Anyway, yes, time to start filling things more often. My room humidifier, which goes year-round, needs to be refilled about every 24 hours during the heating season, but only about every two weeks in the summer. The room usually runs about 45 to 55%, and that pretty much matches the in-case measurements.

VegasGeorge
11-01-2014, 09:16 AM
Living in the Great Mojave as I do, one of driest plases on Earth, I am seriously concerned about keeping my Ukuleles properly humidified. I keep a Herco in each case, and hang a Humistat in each sound hole. I find that I have to replenish the water about every 10 days. If I let it go for 2 weeks, some of them will have run dry.

Down Up Dick
11-01-2014, 09:32 AM
At the risk of being called a Ukulele Heretic, I must ask why does everyone insist on buying solid Ukes? I can see why Jake and others might need one, both for looks and for sound (?). I have one with a solid top and one solid one, and I don't think I'll buy anymore solids. A number of Ukers on this forum have howled about cracked Ukes.

All my Ukes sound okay to me except for the mistakes. My old ears can't hear anything wrong with any of them except that the Banjoleles are a bit loud. Also, I've seen some really nice looking Ukes that aren't solids.

I don't like problems. I'd much rather just grab a Uke and whale away at it. Putting them all in cases and filling hydrometers with water and checking them and the room humidifier is just too much of a pain. And then they still might crack!

Again, if I was a young person, hot to be a professional, or playing at open mikes all over town, or even someone who can hear the difference between Koa and plywood, maybe it would be different. Any of you other oldies agree with me?

Up with Plywood! :old:

wayfarer75
11-01-2014, 11:46 AM
What constitutes "really dry"?

When the hygrometers in my cases tell me one humidifier isn't cutting it--that is, if the humidity is reading at 40% or below, it's time to augment the Oasis.


At the risk of being called a Ukulele Heretic, I must ask why does everyone insist on buying solid Ukes? I can see why Jake and others might need one, both for looks and for sound (?). I have one with a solid top and one solid one, and I don't think I'll buy anymore solids. A number of Ukers on this forum have howled about cracked Ukes.

All my Ukes sound okay to me except for the mistakes. My old ears can't hear anything wrong with any of them except that the Banjoleles are a bit loud. Also, I've seen some really nice looking Ukes that aren't solids.

I don't like problems. I'd much rather just grab a Uke and whale away at it. Putting them all in cases and filling hydrometers with water and checking them and the room humidifier is just too much of a pain. And then they still might crack!

Again, if I was a young person, hot to be a professional, or playing at open mikes all over town, or even someone who can hear the difference between Koa and plywood, maybe it would be different. Any of you other oldies agree with me?

Up with Plywood! :old:

Oh, I'll answer!

Starting off, I'm sure your hearing is better than mine. I'm 100% deaf in my left ear and have recurring tinnitus in my right ear. Can I still hear the difference between my koa soprano and my plywood one? Yep. It's not snobbery or anything like that. I don't have any customs, I only have 3 ukes (which, around UU, is a pittance) and my nicest one still cost less than $1000. I also have played clarinet and own both plastic/resin and solid wood models. They sound different, even when using the same mouthpiece. The wooden one resonates more.

It's not just hearing the difference between koa and plywood, it's also the build quality. Laminate ukes can sound great--my Kala soprano is very nice sounding when strummed. As you say, it "sounds okay." It's when I try to fingerpick I hear issues--intonation is certainly a big one. And it's not the setup, it's just that it's a cheap uke. (Another reason why my wooden clarinet sounds nicer--it's better made.) Setup can only do so much. Blackbird may be the exception when it comes to laminates, but those cost as much or more than solid wood factory-made ukes. I can buy a lot of humidifiers with the price difference. I don't find it too hard to fill humidifiers and check hygrometers, either. And there's more than one place in town I can take a ukulele if something happens to it. Instruments have to be repaired all the time; things happen. It's not the end of the world if there's a crack, IMO.

DownUpDave
11-01-2014, 02:02 PM
DownUpDick, you big old brother from another mother.......mom must have given me more sensitive ears. I can hear the difference between solid and laminate. I have two laminates that sound very good and I can leave them out all year round so I can grab a uke on a whim and wail away. But my solid wood instruments do sound better then their laminate brothers, more note seperation, more projection and sustain. I will never bet rid of those two laminates, they are that good but just like wine until you have really experienced something better you have no point of reference.

I keep all mine in hardcases with an Oasis soundhole humidifer.

VegasGeorge
11-01-2014, 02:17 PM
At the risk of being called a Ukulele Heretic, I must ask why does everyone insist on buying solid Ukes?

Actually, I agree. Except, I love Kamakas and they only come in solid wood. My other Ukes are not solid. And when I was playing Guitar, I bought the Martin High Pressure Laminate models because of where I live. I just have to depend on the humidifiers and on Kamaka's well seasoned wood. Believe me, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

kohanmike
11-01-2014, 02:22 PM
After one of my ukes cracked last year during a dry spell here in Los Angeles, I took a book shelf and converted it to a humid control cabinet. Sealed the edges with closed cell foam tape, put on plexiglass doors and have two trays for water at the bottom. I use a analog hygrometer and keep the humidity between 45 and 55 percent. Been working great for the last year.

http://www.fairfax67.com/images/1 Shelf.jpg

UkerDanno
11-01-2014, 02:37 PM
mine are deployed 7/24/365...

I just keep oasis humidifiers in the cases for my C1K and CK-80. No humidistat, just make sure they're filled weekly at the very least. The Style 0 has been in AZ for years and seems to do fine kept in a case w/no humidification...I do put it near the humidifier when I start running it when it gets cold...maybe sometime in Dec.

Ukejenny
11-01-2014, 06:06 PM
When the hygrometers in my cases tell me one humidifier isn't cutting it--that is, if the humidity is reading at 40% or below, it's time to augment the Oasis.



Oh, I'll answer!

Starting off, I'm sure your hearing is better than mine. I'm 100% deaf in my left ear and have recurring tinnitus in my right ear. Can I still hear the difference between my koa soprano and my plywood one? Yep. It's not snobbery or anything like that. I don't have any customs, I only have 3 ukes (which, around UU, is a pittance) and my nicest one still cost less than $1000. I also have played clarinet and own both plastic/resin and solid wood models. They sound different, even when using the same mouthpiece. The wooden one resonates more.

It's not just hearing the difference between koa and plywood, it's also the build quality. Laminate ukes can sound great--my Kala soprano is very nice sounding when strummed. As you say, it "sounds okay." It's when I try to fingerpick I hear issues--intonation is certainly a big one. And it's not the setup, it's just that it's a cheap uke. (Another reason why my wooden clarinet sounds nicer--it's better made.) Setup can only do so much. Blackbird may be the exception when it comes to laminates, but those cost as much or more than solid wood factory-made ukes. I can buy a lot of humidifiers with the price difference. I don't find it too hard to fill humidifiers and check hygrometers, either. And there's more than one place in town I can take a ukulele if something happens to it. Instruments have to be repaired all the time; things happen. It's not the end of the world if there's a crack, IMO.

Preach! I'm also a clarinet player and there is no comparison in the sound, the quality, and the way the instrument will sing for you and with you when you are using a well-built wooden instrument. If I were as proficient on ukulele, I'm sure the differences would be just as glaring to me, but I can still feel and hear a difference between my solid instruments and my sons' laminate instruments. The laminates are very nice, especially for the price we paid, but my solid wood instruments are easier to play, more in tune, and have better tone/sustain.

Down Up Dick
11-01-2014, 08:34 PM
Well, to each his/her own I guess, but one doesn't need a Stradivarius to fiddle out Turkey in the Straw. Again, if I was someone like Jake I'd want the very best uke possible, and I'd probably have someone to humidify it for me.

To humidify or not to humidify, that is the question. :old:

wayfarer75
11-02-2014, 02:35 AM
Well, to each his/her own I guess, but one doesn't need a Stradivarius to fiddle out Turkey in the Straw. Again, if I was someone like Jake I'd want the very best uke possible, and I'd probably have someone to humidify it for me.

To humidify or not to humidify, that is the question. :old:

I hardly equate my Kelii and Kamaka ukes with a Stradivarius. Just because a uke is made of solid wood doesn't mean it's ridiculously expensive or requires constant hovering to make sure it's properly humidified. And for what it's worth, my plywood Kala gets a humidifier too, so the fretboard doesn't shrink. I don't want the frets to stick out.

katysax
11-02-2014, 04:48 AM
I hardly equate my Kelii and Kamaka ukes with a Stradivarius. Just because a uke is made of solid wood doesn't mean it's ridiculously expensive or requires constant hovering to make sure it's properly humidified. And for what it's worth, my plywood Kala gets a humidifier too, so the fretboard doesn't shrink. I don't want the frets to stick out.

Yep. The reason I humidify the environment where I keep my ukes is that I've had a plywood uke suffer damage to the bracing from getting too dry. Anything wood can be damaged from little humidity. A benefit is that my hair tends to be dry and way too dry when humidity is low. My room is a lot more comfortable with a humidifier.

vanflynn
11-02-2014, 05:54 AM
Furnaces on= time to check. A $20 hygrometer is a cheap investment to prevent cracks in you nice instruments

IamNoMan
11-02-2014, 06:28 AM
Hey Down up Dick: Like you I'm an old fart, Tinnitus, I have some aspirations but I play for the fun of it like you. My first uke is a Tenor Solid Mahogany, My Second is a Laminated Koa Concert. My third will be a red cedar soprano. I've had the concert for a week. both of my ukes sound good to my ears. They sounded pretty much the same last week. In just one week I have started to hear the differences between the two. I am not qualified to judge the differences yet. I am happy that my ears like the sound of both.

I can see an advantage in having a laminated uke. Rllink is in Puerto Rico for the winter. I believe he lives in Iowa the rest of the year. Laminated woods are more resistant to changes in heat and humidity. It makes sense to me to take the laminated uke to PR. Now are the rest of the ukes in chilly Iowa worth a little protection over the winter? I think a couple of bucks spent on insuring my ukes are ready to play beats having the nuisance of fixing a broken uke.

Down Up Dick
11-02-2014, 09:34 AM
When one buys an expensive Uke, and there's nothing at all wrong with it. Of course it's gonna sound better than your old plywood beater. It's human nature, and maybe the opposite of buyer's remorse. So, if you have no real reason to send it back, you almost have to think it sounds better.

I suppose that I have Tinnitus too, but I also hear my heartbeat in my ears most of the time. I see it sometimes too. It doesn't bother me much anymore except when I'm anxious about something or when the beat is erratic. I've also lost my direction finding ability. When I hear a noise, I can't usually tell where it's coming from. I think I could use some hearing aids, but I'm afraid they'd mess up my music. I can hear well enough to get by.

This thread is not about the merits of expensive Ukes over cheap ones. It's about hygrometers (Why aren't they called hydrometers? Hydro = Water, doesn't it?), and all the fuss one has to do to use them. I think that bookcase turned into a Uke cabinet is really great. I could even go for that. But having a bunch of Ukes stashed in cases all over the house which need to be checked and refilled is a bit much for me. But as I've already said: To each his/her own.

All day I faced the barren waste without a drop of water -- nice warm water . . . :old:

IamNoMan
11-02-2014, 12:44 PM
A hydrometer is a device to measure the specific gravity of other liquids. It Compares the relative density of the two materials. If Specific gravity is >1.0=water, the material sinks. Archimedes discovered this principle ~220 BC -Eureka!

A hygrometer measures the moisture content in air. The earliest hygrometer was developed by Lambert sometime in the 18th century. Archimedes had first dibs on the name.

The bookshelf idea is indeed a great idea.

pritch
11-02-2014, 01:22 PM
New Plymouth Weather

Today
Showers
17 9

Tomorrow
Showers
15 5

Wednesday
Showers
14 5

Thursday
Fine
14 6

I'll pass on the humidifier thanks, although there is possibly one en route to my house in a case. Not that I would know what to do with it...

mikelz777
11-02-2014, 01:42 PM
I was one of those who thought that having to keep a uke hydrated was going to be a major hassle. After studying the various styles of humidifiers, I went with one of the Oasis humidifiers that fit inside the hole of the uke for my solid wood uke. I then bought one of those digital hygrometers meant for cigar humidors. After testing the humidity in an empty case by placing the humidifier in various places, it affirmed I made the right decision by purchasing a humidifier that hydrates the uke from the inside of the body where it needs it most. (measured by placing the hygrometer inside the uke body as well.) Placing the humidifier outside of the uke, the humidity varied widely and didn't provide adequate humidity. Now I'm confident my system adequately humidifies my uke. The Oasis humidifier couldn't be easier to use and it's easy to see when it needs refilling. It's also a lot easier to put in and take out than I thought it would be. For my laminate uke, I use a home made humidifier using sponges and pill bottles. I only have 2 ukes so it really isn't a bother at all, it's just a minor part of instrument maintenance. When I first started humidifying, I was surprised that I could hear that there was a difference in sound over the next couple of days. Humidity, or lack thereof does make a difference.

PeteyHoudini
11-02-2014, 02:53 PM
Hydrating your ukes is merely like watering your house plants! Just look after them on a regular basis with your watering can! hehe

Petey

IamNoMan
11-02-2014, 03:21 PM
I was one of those who thought that having to keep a uke hydrated was going to be a major hassle. After studying the various styles of hydrometers, I went with one of the Oasis hydrometers that fit inside the hole of the uke for my solid wood uke.I don't wish to be pedantic but Oasis makes a uke humidifier; for about $20. It doesn't matter to me what you choose to call it, but don't buy a hydrometer when what you want is a humidifier.

wayfarer75
11-02-2014, 04:34 PM
Hydrating your ukes is merely like watering your house plants! Just look after them on a regular basis with your watering can! hehe

Petey

I now have a mental image of you opening your ukes' cases and pouring water directly into each soundhole. LOL

mikelz777
11-02-2014, 05:53 PM
I don't wish to be pedantic but Oasis makes a uke humidifier; for about $20. It doesn't matter to me what you choose to call it, but don't buy a hydrometer when what you want is a humidifier.

I stand corrected, I use an Oasis humidifier and chose it over other humidifiers. Humidifier, hydrometer, hygrometer - I can't seem to keep it together. Post has been corrected.

Down Up Dick
11-07-2014, 03:40 AM
Well, here I am again. I'd now like to know: What happens to Ukes when the worst happens?

Back in the 30s and 40s did everyone humidify? And yet after that Uke craze, they were all tossed into attics or basements and forgotten, and, yet, some of them are still around and being played.

And, again, if one gets a crack in it, is it still playable? My old Ka-Lai is cracked ( I think the kids did it.), and it still plays. And has anyone seen Willie Nelson's guitar? I've seen others like it too, and most guitars and Ukes already have a hole in them (Ha Ha?).

And lastly, in all my years of studying and listening and watching music, I've never heard of violinists or cellists or bassists or even guitarists doing all this humidifying. There must be lots and lots of musicians playing on old stuff from the past. I'm sure the professionals with very expensive instruments do something, but I dunno.

Please don't think I'm arguing against humidifying or solid Ukes. I'm just curious as to what happens when the worst occurs. Some of you mention repairs being made. Is that possible? Necessary? Well, I hope no one takes my questions wrong. I just like to learn.

Damn the cracks, full speed ahead! :old:

Kayak Jim
11-07-2014, 06:05 AM
Valid questions Dick. A friend of mine is a cellist and has been for 6 or 7 years I'd guess. He also has a few violins that he repairs as student grade instruments. The instruments all just sit out in his music room which has no special air treatment other than the humidifier on his furnace. Up here in the frozen north we can only get inside humidity up to the mid 30's before condensation occurs on windows in the dead of winter. When I questioned him on the practice he said he's never had any problem. I'd rather be safe than sorry. It really isn't that difficult to maintain humidity in a case.

wayfarer75
11-07-2014, 07:43 AM
Yes, violinists and guitarists and such do humidify their instruments. How much they worry about it probably varies like it does among uke players. I'm sure you can google it and find some interesting discussions on other online forums.

Cracks and such can be repaired, it depends on how bad it is or how stable the crack is, etc. Sometimes things can be left alone. But then seams come apart, bridges come off, all sorts of things.

Of course I can't say what ukulele owners did decades ago to take care of their instruments, or what percentage have survived rotten humidity levels. That's an interesting question. There are plenty of vintage ukes out there that have cracks and other damage, and who knows what caused it. Great violinists often have instruments that are centuries old. I believe more than half of Stradivari's instruments survived, but have been refurbished many times over the years.

I agree with Kayak Jim about better being safe than sorry, and the ease of use of a humidifier. It takes less time to humidify my ukes every week or so than it does to simply get my clarinet ready to be played once (reed moistened, instrument warmed up) and to swab the inside of the instrument after I'm done. So personally, I think uke care is pretty easy.

vanflynn
11-07-2014, 08:38 AM
Well, here I am again. I'd now like to know: What happens to Ukes when the worst happens?



Something like: 72624 72625 72626 72627

if you are lucky it can be repaired, otherwise it becomes a wallhanger

DownUpDave
11-07-2014, 09:19 AM
Hey Dick, those were all very good and valid questions. I heard the old timers would toss an apple slice in the case in leu of the fancy humidifers we have now. I am sure a great majority of instruments were never put in cases and just left out in a corner of the room. Some I would imagine were unaffected and others might crack, split or warp. Like most things now we have much better information compared to 70 - 100 years ago

Down Up Dick
11-07-2014, 09:23 AM
Something like: 72624 72625 72626 72627

if you are lucky it can be repaired, otherwise it becomes a wallhanger

So, is that Uke in the pics playable? :old:

vanflynn
11-07-2014, 09:33 AM
So, is that Uke in the pics playable? :old:

Yep, $200 and 7 months at the Kamaka factory and it was signing like new (or old in this case). I am just really glad that my mom didn't try to tune it up. That piece of soundboard with the bridge would have broken right off and it would have been a ugly wallhanger!