PDA

View Full Version : Solid Wood Uke and Humidity



kia--
01-06-2017, 05:54 AM
I've read through old posts about solid wood instruments and humidity but still had a few questions.

We live in Illinois, USA. Forced air heating. Today temp is 6 degrees fahrenheit.

I have a solid mango uke coming next week and I want to make sure I'm ready for it.

I am ordering:
Oasis OH-2 Digital Hygrometer for case
Oasis OH-18 Ukulele Humidifier
A good quality indoor Hygrometer Thermometer for the room

My question:
Case - Should I go with solid or heavy padded? I was looking at a Featherlight Polyfoam Case online. Thoughts?

Research tells me, unless the relative humidity of the house is between 40 - 60% I need to store the uke cased with hygrometer. Correct?

Other thoughts or suggestions? Things I'm forgetting?

I appreciate it! Thanks!

cml
01-06-2017, 07:14 AM
Sounds good to me, make sure your case is a solid case with padding in it. Gig bags work, but not as well.

Booli
01-06-2017, 07:18 AM
If you want to split hairs - the zipper on the canvas-covered polyfoam case will leak, i.e., NOT be as air-tight as a tolex/vinyl/leather-covered wood case, but a wood case will still leak some.

Make sure to put your Oasis in the sound-hole, suspended by the strings, for it is the inside of the body of the uke that needs the most humidity.

You may also want to calibrate your hygrometer so make sure it is reading correctly. There are other recent threads on that, with methods for 75% and 43% calibration using different 'salts', but I do not recall these methods well enough to say here now.

I personally have a sponge cut to fit inside a prescription pill bottle, with a simple 3/8" hole drilled in the cap, and 4x 1/8" holes drilled in the sides about 90 deg apart the circumference, and 3 rows of these holes about 1/4" apart vertically, and I put one of these DIY humifiers in the soundhole, suspended from the strings.

As per the Caliber IV hygrometer that I purchased pre-calibrated by David Burgess, in-case humidity still reads at 45% even 2 weeks later when I check and add water to the sponges.

I have recently added an ultrasonic 'Mist Maker' that floats in a 5-gal bucket, in addition to my room humidifier and now also have my music room holding at about 52% RH, whereas with the humidifier alone it struggles to break 40%, and with no humidification, the RH falls to about 22%.

The Mist Makers are sold as 'pond foggers' or 'reptile terrarium fog makers' for lots more money, and are basically a 24v DC power supply that feeds a PWM circuit which causes a 16mm piezo disc (yes just like many pickups) to oscillate at ~2.4 ghz, which is the frequency required to break the surface tension and excite the water molecules to vaporize, i.e., effectively making this a piezo atomizer.

Cost me $20 on Amazon. I did this because refilling the humidifier is a royal PITA and I can put this in a 5 gal bucket with tap water and get about 24 hrs of vapor from it added to the room. Also any ultrasonic humidifier that can hold 5 gals of water costs over $100, so this is my ghetto swamp-fogger that adds moisture to the air.

I added a small 80mm computer case fan on a 12v DC power supply which blows down into the water, and moves the water vapor out of the bucket, for without it, the vapor, just sits in the bucket or sinks to the floor and does not register on either the Caliber IV hygrometer, nor the Accurite hygrometer, but this way I have it setup it works great, and the air is very easy to breathe.

I have many ukes in cases now with the pill-bottle setup, but at least my music room is pleasant. :)

Sorry for going far afield about humidity, but I am excited to have set this up and have it working well now.

actadh
01-06-2017, 08:17 AM
All my ukes are cased - gig, foam, or hard. I use damp paper towels in pill bottles, Oasis, tube foam things, and a Herco. All sit next to the neck or the top of the lower bout - nothing in the sound hole. 4th year doing this.

In winter, I just make sure to play each one every few days to enable checking on the humidifier condition. Bonus is that it makes me cherish the unique qualities of each, which sometimes get forgotten in more humid weather when I tend to concentrate on one or two ukes and then rotate.

Debussychopin
01-06-2017, 08:54 AM
Even with a case, keep the uke when not playing in a storage closet or room or basement area that doesn't readily have flow of air as less wicking of moisture from those locations. I have a bottom floor closet that is cool and never affected by air conditioning or heating central to the top floor where we live.
Also try not to play near any open heating vent or active fireplace.

cml
01-06-2017, 09:25 AM
We've had a few days of cold weather, fortunately I put my ukes in their cases with humidifiers. Started up the big house humidifier, but it'll take a day or two to get back to 40% rh. Sitting just over 25 now and my nose is unhappy.
96764

kia--
01-06-2017, 11:47 AM
I found this video! I think I'll make one of these! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3REUyKL60U

Mivo
01-06-2017, 12:19 PM
Worth mentioning is that our bodies prefer the same humidity conditions as our ukuleles. In the heated, dry months of the year, I keep my ukuleles in the same room that I spend the most time in also. That room also has a bunch of plants that I water and moisture (spray) frequently. Both the plants and I evaporate water, which helps with the humidity level in the room. It's usually possible to keep the humidity at 40% or more, in spite of the floor heating. I have considered getting a small table fountain/spring also, which is probably all that's needed to hit 50%.

If a room's humidity level is bad for our ukes, it's probably unfavorable for our health also.

kia--
01-06-2017, 12:43 PM
Worth mentioning is that our bodies prefer the same humidity conditions as our ukuleles. In the heated, dry months of the year, I keep my ukuleles in the same room that I spend the most time in also. That room also has a bunch of plants that I water and moisture (spray) frequently. Both the plants and I evaporate water, which helps with the humidity level in the room. It's usually possible to keep the humidity at 40% or more, in spite of the floor heating. I have considered getting a small table fountain/spring also, which is probably all that's needed to hit 50%.

If a room's humidity level is bad for our ukes, it's probably unfavorable for our health also.

Good point! My husband has wanted to add a whole house humidifier to our furnace. He has severe sinus problems because of the dry air in the winter months. I do have plants in my practice room! I'm making progress! Thanks!

cml
01-08-2017, 12:03 AM
Sittning pretty at 45-50% now, love this humidifier:). Means my ukes can move back on the wall!

Reno Dave
01-08-2017, 03:07 AM
I live in a very dry area with low humidity unless it's raining. I have solid wood tenors and try to keep the humidity level around 45% inside the hard cases they are stored in. Here is what I found that works well for me.......
1) Oasis humidifiers for ukuleles have provided the best and most consistent humidity levels throughout the year. Follow the directions and use distilled water only.

2) Humidity Gauge is very important asset inside the case itself. You can purchase very expensive types but I discovered at "PET'S MART" humidity gauges in the reptile section that run about $ 8.00. They have a sticky back so you can place the gauge inside the hard case and it won't come loose.

3) Lastly, I have lined the inside of cases that had a poor seal with weather stripping to seal in moisture and keep out dryness. I purchased the weather stripping at my local Home Depot.

4) Unless you are playing your uke, keep is safely store in it's case.

I hope these tid bits are helpful to you,
Reno Dave

cyber3d
07-17-2017, 12:04 PM
Was going to bump this thread. But, question. For solid wood ukuleles, is the worry about humidity being out of the safe range; too high or too low? or is the worry humidity levels varying too much?

thanks, vic

cyber3d
07-18-2017, 01:51 PM
From Michael Smith on another thread in the forum:

Humidity changes will kill just about every instrument ever made at some point. If this happens in a week or 400 years depends on how well the owner/owners contol and or limit these changes. I believe every owner of a valuable wooden musical instrument should keep their instrument in a fiberglass or abs case with a couple Boveda 49% humidity packets. Take it out to play then put it back when they are done. Not all humdity control products are the same. The Boveda packets contain certain salts that release moisture with humidity goes below 45% and suck up moisture when humidity goes above.
Michael Smith
Goat Rock Ukulele
www.goatrockukulele.com

Uke Devil
08-05-2017, 06:41 PM
There's a lot of info regarding humidifying solid top ukuleles. Is it a given that laminates do not need to be humidified?

jer
08-06-2017, 02:03 PM
There's a lot of info regarding humidifying solid top ukuleles. Is it a given that laminates do not need to be humidified?
No. They are more durable than solid woods, but it doesn't mean they don't have to be humidified. The braces in laminates are usually made of solid wood, as is the neck and fingerboard.
If you want a uke that has zero humidity worries it'd have to be completely made of some synthetic materials.....such as offerings by Blackbird, Outdoor Ukulele, and then some lesser quality lower cost synthetic ukes.

I guess it comes down to how extreme your conditions are and what risks you're willing to take or not.

Dean Beaver
08-08-2017, 05:46 PM
I've had (and have) Guitars and Ukes, laminates & solids, I don't take them in the rain if I can help it at all, and I avoid leaving them in closed hot cars or in direct sunlight for long periods. Otherwise they are either sitting out as they are, or sometimes in a gig bag, or one in a hard case, all without humidifiers.
I live in Australia, weather and climate does vary considerably especially depending on whereabouts you go, from Mediterranean to Arid to Tropical and everything in between.
I've only really experienced problems with tonality and resonance with a laminate acoustic guitar due to high humidity, never a problem with my others. I do think laminates have durability in a lot of regards, though I have not found it to be so in regard to high temperatures and high humidity combined, perhaps due to softening of glue, I'm uncertain, and I'm speaking from my personal experience, also I'm speaking with regard to a 1992 Fender AG10, and I do think technology has increased dramatically over recent decades, which includes glue technology to a reasonable extent, and for me it's been a rare occurrence. Furthermore, I wouldn't say it killed the instrument, more a temporary thing to do with tone and resonance, which it recovered from just like a person recovers from a cold.
I think with high humidity, there's the concern of mould, mildew, rot etc with any perishable materials, which would concern me more than weather, particularly as I try to avoid directly exposing my instruments to extreme weather conditions, whereas mould, mildew etc will cultivate even indoors in areas exposed to damp.
I also consider variables such as Timber Type, as some timbers have Higher or Lower Resistance to moisture, rot, or even insects etc.

I took my Solid Mahogany Guitar with me across the country from west to east and south to north, from Semi-Arid region to Tropical region, living in a tent, and with nothing more than a gig bag to keep it in. I sold it this year (to pay for Ukes) and the buyer bought it without a moments hesitation, it was obviously playing very well. Mahogany is low resistance to moisture or rot, as far as I know, yet it proved to be durable under the circumstances.

Saying that, I like my instruments seasoned, meaning they endure through seasons, and I consider seasoning makes good character development.

I haven't taken my instruments to below freezing temperatures so far, so can't speak for or against in that regard, but I think if I did I would want to keep my instrument in a hard case or at the very least a decent gig bag, similar to when I was in Semi-Arid or Tropical regions.
I live in a mediteranean climate btw, and haven't spent more than several months at a time in other climatic regions, and I would suggest if you are in Tropical or Freezing Climates then it is going to be different conditions.

In my circumstances, in the mediterranean climate I'm living, I would definitely consider heaters and air conditioners can do damage to instruments, quite likely more than weather does, I don't have heaters or air conditioners, I ride with the weather in accordance with the seasons, at best I have a portable fan to move air on very hot days or nights.
I may be mistaken to say so, but nonetheless I haven't experienced problems like the problems I'm reading about here, and my instruments generally endure summer, winter, autumn and spring seasons, though I'm well aware that other climates are different.

I agree with Jer ^ , I think a lot of it depends on extremities of conditions and how much you are willing to compromise.
I'm not willing willing to compromise seasoning, as long as it has no ill effects on my instruments, it may be somewhat of a compromise with regard to surety of the instrument, though I can't confirm it or negate it.
Others may not be willing to compromise on surety for their instrument for the sake of good seasoning, and they have likely experienced problems which have caused them to make that choice, which is understandable.
So yes it seems we have different experiences and perspectives, and it's a case of making personal choices, as usual.

Rllink
08-09-2017, 05:42 AM
I took my Solid Mahogany Guitar with me across the country from west to east and south to north, from Semi-Arid region to Tropical region, living in a tent, and with nothing more than a gig bag to keep it in. I sold it this year (to pay for Ukes) and the buyer bought it without a moments hesitation, it was obviously playing very well. Mahogany is low resistance to moisture or rot, as far as I know, yet it proved to be durable under the circumstances.



I agree with Jer ^ , I think a lot of it depends on extremities of conditions and how much you are willing to compromise.
I'm not willing willing to compromise seasoning, as long as it has no ill effects on my instruments, it may be somewhat of a compromise with regard to surety of the instrument, though I can't confirm it or negate it.
Others may not be willing to compromise on surety for their instrument for the sake of good seasoning, and they have likely experienced problems which have caused them to make that choice, which is understandable.
So yes it seems we have different experiences and perspectives, and it's a case of making personal choices, as usual.Is that true, that mahogany has a low resistance to moisture and rot? I only ask because mahogany is used a lot in boats, and we use it a lot in Puerto Rico where we are subject to salt air. I always assumed that was because it was resistant to weathering. Anyway, I suppose that I could look it up somewhere.

Right now I want to buy a soprano and I can not find a laminate that I like. I was thinking of laminate because I will not be able to keep it "properly humidified." All the ones that I am finding that I like at least have a solid top. Now I'm not one to abuse a ukulele, but I'm also not one to take extraordinary precautions either. I am quite tempted to buy a solid top soprano and just go with it. What is the worst that can happen? To me, ukuleles are not a lifetime investment anyway. The worst that can happen is that over time it develops a crack somewhere. Or becomes unplayable, in which case I will just get another one and maybe take more care. But I am willing to take that chance. Best case, it just keeps on keeping on for years and years. Either way, I'll learn something. So I just talked myself into that right here and now.

Dean Beaver
08-09-2017, 05:52 PM
Hi Rllink ..

You can quite easily read information about various Tonewoods online at ..
*Tonewood Data Source ..
*The Wood Database ..

I find these to be good informative reliable sources for various Genus and species of timbers,which includes Common Names that you can easily reference.

I've found Mahogany to be durable, from personal experience, and you'll most likely find it's been sealed and coated in it's various uses.

You might want to check out other timbers also, such as Zebrawood which is rated Durable and resistant to insects, and it's quite an easily found timber in use , Indian Rosewood, Cedar, or others, there's plenty to look at, and plenty of details.

Tonewood Data Source is interesting and has lots of info relative to uses on instruments such as Guitars or Ukuleles.

Check out the info and you'll be able to find out more than I can tell you.

The Wood Database has more species, is also good to check out, though does not go in depth for details regarding uses as Tonewood specifically.

Either way, instruments need to be looked after and maintained, though I think personally that if an instrument is going to have a frailty that will show up some time then I like it to show up early so I can do something about it. Once fixed it is unlikely to occur again. So far it seems I've made good choices with Uke selections, and haven't had a problem, I generally keep them in a decent Gig Bag or Hard Case (I only have a Hardcase for my Mahogany Tenor) if I take them out with me anywhere.

I'll get my money worth, plus more, if I play them. I don't abuse them or neglect them, I maintain them, dust wipes off easily, etc and so on ...

:) Happy Ukeing