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Icelander53
05-31-2015, 11:50 AM
One of the big shocking realizations that long life brought to me was that nothing seems to be certain. Even with pros there is a general lack of agreement on many basic subjects.

So... I've heard a lot of discussion on humidity here. I must admit I think I got a little paranoid about it, taking some of the pleasure out of my new found skill.

One area of confusion I'd like to have some light shed on is what exactly is the cause of humidity issues and what are those issues? I've heard it said here that if you have a badly dehydrated instrument you can re humidify it and in about a month it will fully rehydrate or some similar substantial amount of time. Yet, I hear people worried about leaving a uke out for half a day in a dehumidified/dry area.

That doesn't jibe with my common sense on the matter (sometimes common sense is incorrect).

So here's the question. I humidify my instruments at about 55% humidity but when I take it out my summer room humidity can go quite low 20=25%. So if I'm paranoid I put it back in that case as soon as I'm not playing. However my attack on practice is to watch movies and then pause it many times during to play one or three songs on the uke and then back to the movie or book. I'll do that all day long some days. It's a pain putting it back in it's cabinet (however not a major pain issue if I absolutely have to do it) each time I play that song or three.

So.. Can I leave it out for half a day without risk? Why not?

I'm going to request that you speak from experience rather than speculation. If you can manage that lol.

Icelander53
05-31-2015, 01:07 PM
Post pics of all your cracked ukes. ;)

igorthebarbarian
05-31-2015, 01:40 PM
When I started, I had a vintage old no-name 1930's(?) one get a small crack on its back. I live in AZ so I realize I'm in the extreme driest conditions. So it is actually possible!

Icelander53
05-31-2015, 02:34 PM
When I started, I had a vintage old no-name 1930's(?) one get a small crack on its back. I live in AZ so I realize I'm in the extreme driest conditions. So it is actually possible!

I know it's possible but what did it actually take to get that crack?

Icelander53
05-31-2015, 02:36 PM
I have none with cracks from living with me. And I live in the upper Midwest. Cold winters. Forced air. 15% and lower on occasion. I do have a slew of very nice ukes, old and recent, as well as guitars, and none have had issues from humidity, on my watch at least.

So yeah, we can get a bit confused as to what's proper, but it really does take some determined abuse to cause issues.

Good to hear. I think this is generally true. Some wood ukes may have flaws that would crack under almost any conditions. I'm guessing but there must be some reason a few ukes get cracked when dried out a bit and most others will not.

stevejfc
05-31-2015, 03:04 PM
I've never had a severe problem.........no splits, cracks or major warps. We move from New england to the tropics regularly, and the only problem I've had is fret bar edges extending. So, I am now very careful of prolonged humidity/temp changes. A couple of ours should make no difference unless there is a drastic enviroment change.

k0k0peli
05-31-2015, 03:25 PM
Various of my new and old wooden instruments have survived life transitions from the foggy Pacific coast near San Francisco (wet) to a mile-high desert mountain town on the Arizona-Sonora border (very dry) to nearly as high in the central Sierra Nevadas (fairly dry). Interestingly, I just (day before yesterday) bought an almost-century-old tiple (10-steel-string tenor uke) near Durango, Colorado (high and dry) with a humidifier in its carry case. Why the humidifier, I'm not sure, except maybe to facilitate the sale. :confused:

One can get as anal as desired with instrument humidity, same as with camera lenses. I know of some photographers in tropical zones who keep their gear in humidity-controlled enclosures, mainly to prevent spread of mold, the enemy of lens coatings. I suspect that rapid changes in atmospheric pressure, temperature, and humidity can badly affect old wood. Maybe I should keep a wet sponge inside each axe when I travel across deserts, and a silica gel crystal pack when I'm in a rainforest.

kohanmike
05-31-2015, 06:48 PM
I have/had three ukes and one u-bass made in Vietnam and none show any problems, but I converted a bookshelf to a humidified cabinet last after seeing a cabinet wickedwahine11 had made and when my Lanikai solid monkey pod cracked in a 10% humidity spell here in Los Angeles. My cabinet now stays between 42-57% at all times.

http://www.kohanmike.com/uploads/Monkeypod crack.jpg

igorthebarbarian
05-31-2015, 06:53 PM
Basically I did nothing as far as humidification goes for probably 6 months. This was when I was dumb and didn't know/ think about humidification issues. Also, I'm lazy. So that didn't help! Now I'm really focused on laminate ukes - higher quality laminate ukes. I have a nice Flea now. Probably get a Kiwaya or Martin OXK next (or a Blackbird Clara if I somehow run into an extra $1,000). Honestly I don't have the time or patience to be messing around with humidification.



I know it's possible but what did it actually take to get that crack?

BlackBearUkes
05-31-2015, 07:11 PM
Wood likes stable conditions. The woods that suffer the most are woods with lots of resin or oils, like high end rosewoods, exotic stuff. There are exceptions however. If the woods used are well cured, made into an instrument in a proper environment, built with good techniques and building practices and not abused, any instrument should be able to live most places without much difficulty.

Woods with wild grain patterns, knots, or other abnormalities will most always suffer down the road. The best humidity levels are from 42-50%. Try for that if you can, but if you live on a boat or the tropics or the high dessert, things will shift. Even then, once the instrument get acclimated to that condition, if may be OK. What instruments don't like is going from the deep south to Alaska in the middle of winter in a weeks time and then back again. Good luck.

DownUpDave
06-01-2015, 01:55 AM
Your specific question was "can you leave it out for have a day in your house conditions". You also asked to answer from experience.

Living in the Toronto, Canada area we have high humidity in the summer and low humidity in the winter. I have an all solid wood acoustic guitar that I would leave out most of the day while playing and practicing in the winter then return it to it's gig bag. Seven years and no cracks.

All of my solid wood ukes are treated the same with no issues. I keep them out while playing then put them back in a case with an Oasis humidifer in the sound hole. Quality instruments in a proper state of hydration cannot lose enough moisture in a 12 hour period to cause cracking.

BearBears answer is the most telling and accurate..........he is an expert as a long time builder. Bottom line, wood is wood which means there can be a lot of variance from one piece to another.

As you say a little common sense usually goes a long way.

Down Up Dick
06-01-2015, 03:07 AM
I've read a lot of humidity threads about cracking and twisting Ukes. Okay, so they sometimes crack. But, when they do, are they still playable? Wall hangers? Expensive repairs? Firewood?

I went to some second hand stores on Saturday, and there were some old beat up guitars and one old Uke. Only one of them was cracked. They were probably cheap ones--maybe a better buy?

It seems to me that there's a lotta good info in this thread.

Icelander53
06-01-2015, 03:20 AM
and those are good questions. I imagine repairs don't have to look good to sound right and maybe it's a DIY in some cases. I'd actually like to own a beat up uke as long as I was the one doing the beating. As it is my ukes look new due to me inate carefulness that I've had since kidhood. Blame it on my dad.

coolkayaker1
06-01-2015, 04:34 AM
It seems to me that there's a lotta good info in this thread.

True. And in the three thousand other UU threads on Humidity.

Down Up Dick
06-01-2015, 04:48 AM
True. And in the three thousand other UU threads on Humidity.

Yeah, I know what you mean, and I think I've read and worried over all of them. :old:

stevepetergal
06-01-2015, 05:13 AM
One way to look at this issue:
We are always fighting a loosing battle with humidity. One might even say a lost battle.
Your wooden instrument will eventually dry out enough to start cracking. One day, it will begin to come apart. Face it. Humidifying will buy you time. How much time depends upon too many factors to allow an acurate estimate. So, by all means humidify. But, more important: PLAY. What does it matter if it's in like-new condition in fifty years if you never play your ukulele? A pristine ukulele that makes no music is worthless anyway.
In answer to your question, leaving it out half a day, every day is fine.

Recstar24
06-01-2015, 05:18 AM
One way to look at this issue:
We are always fighting a loosing battle with humidity. One might even say a lost battle.
Your wooden instrument will eventually dry out enough to start cracking. One day, it will begin to come apart. Face it. Humidifying will buy you time. How much time depends upon too many factors to allow an acurate estimate. So, by all means humidify. But, more important: PLAY. What does it matter if it's in like-new condition in fifty years if you never play your ukulele? A pristine ukulele that makes no music is worthless anyway.
In answer to your question, leaving it out half a day, every day is fine.

Yes! Here at my school where I teach, you can tell the really good orchestral players by how many nicks, scratches, and dents are in their instruments. Those are the ones that practice. There are also kids here where the instrument looks brand new, and truly they aren't very good and typically drop out before high school. Most of our basses and cellos have a very good amount of wear on them for sure, but they play beautiful music every day.

wayfarer75
06-01-2015, 06:36 AM
and those are good questions. I imagine repairs don't have to look good to sound right and maybe it's a DIY in some cases. I'd actually like to own a beat up uke as long as I was the one doing the beating. As it is my ukes look new due to me inate carefulness that I've had since kidhood. Blame it on my dad.

Exactly. A crack isn't the end of the world. There are plenty of luthiers who will gladly accept your business if something happens to your instrument. I don't think humidity should keep anyone up nights.

coolkayaker1
06-01-2015, 07:05 AM
One way to look at this issue:
We are always fighting a loosing battle with humidity. One might even say a lost battle.
Your wooden instrument will eventually dry out enough to start cracking. One day, it will begin to come apart.

Sounds like Steve is describing my face.

Icelander53
06-01-2015, 07:09 AM
Entropy rules this universe. That would include ukuleles and considering that they both start with the letter U, which might be significant.