View Full Version : Solid wood questions?

10-06-2009, 06:06 PM
So I've never had a solid wood before and I'm eventually going to purchase one... But I was just wondering if there's something in particular that I have to do to keep it in good condition? Such as using a humidifier? I saw the video in uke minutes with Aldrine, and was just wondering if all you do is just finish the homemade humidifier and just put it in the case with the uke? Or is using a humidifier necessary, and what exactly does humidifying an uke do? Also, do they scratch easily? Say I were to chuck downwards or something and my nail went across would it leave a noticeable mark?

10-07-2009, 05:02 AM
Don't worry so much about a wood uke. Lots of instruments are made of wood and they survive regular playing and travel quite nicely. Get a decent case to protect it when not playing (or put it out of harms way - the seat on the couch is not out of harms way ;)), play the instrument, and have fun. It will naturally wear over time because you are using it, but that's what it was built to do. Enjoy it.

The idea behind a humidifier is to keep any instrument from going through extreme swings or changes in humidity in order keep it stable and in tune. It doesn't matter if it's a piano, wood flute, clarinet, violin, guitar, or a uke.

High humidity will cause wood to swell. A lack of humidity will cause wood to shrink. Either condition will make an instrument go out of tune. If the wood shrinks too fast, or too much, it may split. Wood takes a while to dry out. It won't dry out over night. It's not like you'll pull the uke out of the case and hear it crack.

40-50% humidity is considered by many to be a good humidity range for wood instruments. But depending on where you live (the Bahamas?) getting the humidity that low may not be possible.

People use case humidifiers (or even dehumidifiers like silica gel) because it is easier than conditioning the air in a space like a house or apartment with humidifiers or dehumidifiers. If you travel between different climates a case humidifier makes sense. Your instrument case becomes the place where the instrument finds a more consistent stable environment.

I'm sure others with have other thoughts.

Uncle Rod Higuchi
10-07-2009, 05:51 AM
Great explanation, almost "wikipedia"-esque.

Thanks for the valuable information!

OK I'm a heretic here. I've never used a humidifier and I live in Seattle (wet? well....)
and I'm from Hawaii (humid?)

I've had antique Martins, 1960's Kamakas, Vintage Tangi's, Risa Solid (lol), new Kala Travel, Applause Soprano Electric, etc. The only problem I've had was decades ago when I returned to Hawaii from Portland, OR and found a crack on the soundboard of my Kamaka Baritone. Kamaka fixed it and said it was probably due to transport in the cargo bay (low temps).

So far no problems with variations in humidity, knock on Koa.

But if your climate situation includes swings in humidity this is good information.

10-07-2009, 08:55 AM
(or put it out of harms way - the seat on the couch is not out of harms way ;))

knock on Koa.

I see what you both did there :)

These guys have hit the nails on the head.

10-07-2009, 09:32 AM
where do you live and what is the humidity like? I live in an area that 55% humidity is considered bone dry and 80-90% is the norm. Some folks live in dry arid areas that 55% is high. Depending on the area and humidity you may have to trera your solid wood uke differently.

10-07-2009, 11:51 AM
Well the humidity around here is about high 40's to low 50's, but how exactly do you measure humidity your uke would receive? Would this be good enough?


Also I still don't understand if there's a certain way you're supposed to use the homemade one he has? Do you just leave it in the case with the uke closed and just refill the water 2 or 3 times a week?

Thanks for the help everyone! ^.^

10-07-2009, 12:58 PM
Humidity is measured with a device calld a hygrometer. Digital ones are nice and aren't that expensive, but analog ones with needles work too. You can find them on Amazon.com, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, etc. Small ones used in cigar humidors would fit nicely in a uke case.

Here's a couple of examples of hygrometers:


The humidity levels where you live sound great. If it really stays between 40-50% you may not need a humidifier unless you travel to drier climates. But if the manufacturer of the uke requires one for warranty purposes...

Remember that heating a house or an apartment in the winter can dry the air inside, so humidifiers are often used in the winter to compensate for heating the air.

The humidifiers like Aldrine showed are "passive", meaning they work by the water evaporating from the foam through the holes in the PEZ dispenser. This keeps the air in the case moist. Because the evaporation is passive (not forced) your case won't get overly damp (provided you make sure the humidifier isn't dripping when you put it in the case).

You can also make one using PVC pipe capped on both ends with holes drilled along the sides.

These types of humidifiers are used in all sorts of instrument cases.

A company called Oasis makes a line for guitar cases (would also work for ukes) :

Here's one for a bagpipe case that would also work for ukes:

Here's one for instruments like clarinets (it would also work in a uke case):

They all work by evaporation.

10-07-2009, 03:39 PM
ahh thank you so much! You were a lot of help :)