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View Full Version : Solid wood, Humidity, Paranoia



kissing
04-18-2009, 02:47 AM
I ordered a Solid Mahogany Kala Uke from MGM, and waiting eagerly for it to arrive. I went with the Solid wood, because it appears to be taken for granted that Solids sound better.

And as I read on came the horror stories about warping, cracking and drying out if humidity isn't maintained :eek:

I live in Bendigo and Melbourne (Australia), moving back n forth. Looking up average Humidity readings across a year yielded the following results:

Melbourne

Relative Humidity am pm
Jan:58 48
Feb:62 50
Mar:64 51
Apr:72 56
May:79 62
Jun:83 67
Jul:82 65
Aug:76 60
Sep:68 55
Oct:61 52
Nov:60 52
Dec:59 51

source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/city_guides/results.shtml?tt=TT003020

Bendigo

Mean relative humidity (%) am pm
Jan:57 33
Feb:60 35
Mar:64 40
Apr:74 48
May:85 61
Jun:89 67
Jul:90 67
Aug:84 61
Sept:75 54
Oct:65 47
Nov:61 40
Dec:58 36

source: http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_081003.shtml

Given these statistics, I was wondering whether it's advseable to use a humidifier for a solid wood ukulele all year round, or just certain months, or not at all?

Lanark
04-18-2009, 04:00 AM
From what I've gathered based on previous discussions (and with the confidence that if I am incorrect that someone will enlighten us further) is that a general humidity around 40-50% seems to be sufficient. Drier than that and it could lead to problems.

I'm in Minnesota so I have to be a bit more conscious about it because winters are very dry. This spring as well. I've kept the humidifier going and the bedroom shut up this past week while things were pretty dry (around 30%) which was probably a bit paranoid, but I'd rather be paranoid than cracked.

But it doesn't look like you should have much of an issue where you are in Australia.

In general though, I would hazard that if you treat your instrument well and take care of it and take at least the most basic precautions, you shouldn't have much to worry about. A case humidifier is simple enough to maintain, won't hurt anything and peace of mind is good.

It's the same sort of thing I'd hear from people who would develop a weird phobia about tube amplifiers fearing that they were some kind of precious brittle thing that needed constant babying or they'd explode or something which absolutely isn't the case.

Renaissance-Man
04-18-2009, 04:50 AM
From the data you posted, it appears that you live in a primarily humid climate. Unless you live outdoors, you still need to be concerned about your home's humidity. Heating and air conditioning are effective dehumidifiers. A moist sponge stored in your case should suffice.

ichadwick
04-18-2009, 11:55 AM
Relax. If you think the humidity is very low, take it into the bathroom when you shower and leave it on the counter. (Never, ever take it into the shower, no matter how strong the temptation. Learn from the mistakes of others... mine in particular. But that's another story...). Do this once a week, but not more often unless you live in a desert and it's bone dry.

Play it as often as you can. When not playing, keep it in the case with a humidifier (can't find one? throw some wet cotton balls into a plastic bag and use a fork to make some holes in it. Change the balls every two-three days so they don't get mouldy.

Alternatively you can:
If it cracks, buy another. If that cracks, follow step one again. Repeat until satisfied.
Move.
Learn luthiery and repair the damage.
Buy an all-metal resonator uke or a banjo uke less prone to cracking.
Take up the digeridoo instead.

remy
04-18-2009, 12:01 PM
When I got a uke from MGM, it came with a humidifier and instructions about maintaining proper humidity. Maybe yours will come with this as well, which will make it easy enough to keep things humid. As far as I can tell, there is no harm in keeping a humidifier in your bag, even if you don't really need it where you are.

kissing
04-19-2009, 12:32 AM
Thanks for the responses everyone.
I'll get a humidifier for peace of mind :)

Choboy
04-20-2009, 08:28 AM
Relax. If you think the humidity is very low, take it into the bathroom when you shower and leave it on the counter.


is leaving the uke in your bathroom while you shower actually a good idea? i'm just asking cause it sounds like a smart idea yet seems like an unknown strategy. i'd think that the wood would be exposed to too much humidity. would it not?

UKISOCIETY
04-20-2009, 08:31 AM
Relax. If you think the humidity is very low, take it into the bathroom when you shower and leave it on the counter. (Never, ever take it into the shower, no matter how strong the temptation. Learn from the mistakes of others... mine in particular. But that's another story...).


Tell us! Tell us!:)

lazybees
04-25-2009, 04:19 AM
I'm not an expert on this issue, but have talked to a few Classical guitar Luthiers who are and the consenus is that humidity shock is more important than actual humidity. It is stressful on the wood when there is a dramatic Humidity change. Taking the instrument our of a 50% case environment into a 25% relaitve humidty environment is a worse case scenario. I have had various opinions from different Luthiers as to what actual humidity is OK. The range is from 30% to 70% , either side of these numbers seem to require a remedy. Eiher more or less mositure. Over time the wood will acclimate to its environment, usually in a season or two. In high humidity situations I was told the instrument should not stay in the case, but have air circualte around it. Unfortunately like politics the opinions are varied. So there is my humble summary of experts opinions I have gathered over the years.