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View Full Version : Laminates - How Dry Can I Go?



Paul December
04-29-2010, 05:32 AM
In winter our basement gets very dry because of the furnace...
...It has recently been remodeled, and I'd like to keep a couple ukes down there.
I keep reading that laminates can handle dryer conditions better... but how dry can I go (% humidity)?
Before anyone suggests it, I do not want to humidify the room, nor do I want to store the ukes in cases with a humidifier. If the uke is lying on the sofa or hanging on the wall, I'll play it more.

arashi_nero
04-29-2010, 08:27 AM
i've been kind of wondering this myself. it's extremely dry here in the winter. where do you live?

i think once instruments acclimate to an area, it's not so bad, but it can take a while. my bassoon was made in a humid place, but it's used to the extremely un-humid climate of utah now. i took it to japan once and had a reverse adverse effect: it got so much humidity that i couldn't take it apart!! our piano was the same way. before the piano store we bought it at sells the pianos, they take some time to get them used to the utah climate before selling them.

Paul December
04-29-2010, 08:50 AM
I'm in Chicago and our winters are terribly dry...
...and summers are horribly humid.
Why do I choose to live here?!

SailingUke
04-29-2010, 09:04 AM
In winter our basement gets very dry because of the furnace...
...It has recently been remodeled, and I'd like to keep a couple ukes down there.
I keep reading that laminates can handle dryer conditions better... but how dry can I go (% humidity)?
Before anyone suggests it, I do not want to humidify the room, nor do I want to store the ukes in cases with a humidifier. If the uke is lying on the sofa or hanging on the wall, I'll play it more.

It takes a few days for a uke to change unless it is extremely dry or wet. Besides the body, the fret board can shrink causing the frets to stick out along the finger board.
You might consider a flea/fluke with a plastic fret board, with a plastic body there is little effect of humidity. You might also keep one uke in a humidified case and one on the wall/sofa and rotate them on a regular basis.
You are right about a uke being out and handy it gets played more often. I keep my fluke out almost all the time where it is handy to pick up.
I am fortunate here in SoCal where the humidty stays pretty consistant except in the fall when the Santa Ana winds blow and the humidity can drop to around 10%.
When the East winds come all the instruments get stored away in humidified cases.

Tudorp
04-29-2010, 09:31 AM
I only have a humidifier for my solid mahog uke. I made it myself tho. Also if you dont want to put it in a case like you mentioned, there are humidifiers you can just pop into the sound hole and leave it inside. All ya need is something to use to transfer moisture. The one I made is very simple, and I have seen them like it sell for around $10. I took an old plastic 35mm film canister, drilled a few small holes in the lid of it. Then packed it tight with cotton (I just used several cotton balls). I packed them very tight and to about a 1/4" from the top of the canister. I pop it open one a month or so, and moisten the cotton. I leave it in the case for my solid wood Uke. That one I keep in the case anyway. I did notice that mold might start to grow in the cotton though. How I remedied that, is, also every month or so, I put a couple drops of eucluliptous oil (the wife is into the natural oil thing and has a bunch of that anyway). Euculiptous oil is a natural fighter against mold and mildew, and it has a pleasant odor. But anyway, I would assume you could make something like that, that you can just slip between the strings and into the sound hole...

Paul December
05-01-2010, 07:52 AM
Anyone have any experience with leaving a laminate in a dry environment for a long time?

dentuke
05-01-2010, 08:10 AM
Get a koolao hard case and put a couple of humidifiers in it.... The MGM black canvas/hard case will not keep the moisture in...... Every uke that has cracked on me was placed in one of those cases. I also use a nice lemon oil on the uke body (watch out on the fret board because you can sop it up and the frets can come loose)...... What kills ukes is rapid humidity changes or temperature changes.... You hav eto look at them as if they went on a deep sea excursion and have to be put in the hyperbaric chamber for slow decompression....

leftovermagic84
05-01-2010, 09:11 AM
I took my fluke to work all winter, where the humidity was in usually in the 30% range. I never left it there overnight, but it's held up like you'd expect a fluke to do

SailQwest
05-01-2010, 09:31 AM
Anyone have any experience with leaving a laminate in a dry environment for a long time?

We have left several ukes at my sister-in-law's in NM for the past couple of years. The humidity there is generally about 15%. The Applause ukes (soprano and tenor) have been fine.

We also have two cheap Rogue ukes we leave there for our niece and nephews, which are also holding up well in the high desert.

Unfortunately, the Bushman baritone (which my sis-in-law plays fairly regularly, but forgets to humidify) ended up cracking. :(

molinee
05-06-2010, 05:45 PM
I would think a lot depends on how expensive of a laminate you have. I would think 30 percent would probably do you fine for laminates...... YMMV.... :)

mds725
05-06-2010, 06:53 PM
The MGM black canvas/hard case will not keep the moisture in.

My own experience with humidifiers and the canvas hard cases has been a little different so far (*knocks wood*). The humidity in the room my ukuleles are in (in their MGM-provided cases) is generally between 30-35%, but the hygrometer in each of the cases (in which I keep one of those Oasis clip-on humidifiers) is generally 50% or higher, so I think the cases have some positive effect. I usually keep a Kala travel uke (spruce top with mahogany laminate sides) out of its case for easy playing, but even 30-35% humidity is okay (I think), and I'll go to the trouble of taking my solid wood ukes out of their cases because it's lots of fun to play them.

AC Baltimore
05-07-2010, 07:40 AM
For homemade humidifiers it is also worth keeping in mind, the size of the sponge has an impact on the amount of humidity. Bigger sponge = more water hold, more water = more moisture. I first had a small sponge in my MGM canvas and the humidity would not break 20%. I added a larger one and now it is around 50 in the case and 30 in the room.

ARCHMAN
05-09-2010, 04:47 PM
I don't know about acclimating an instrument actually making it get used to the environment and not cracking. I've spent the last five years weening my Santa Cruz OM/PW off of humidifiers... It recently took a turn for the worse. I play Uke and/or guitar every day. I was playing my SCGC and it just dounded really dull. Observation revealed a crack right down the middle of the soundboard... around 1mm wide!!! I almost sh!t myself. Luckily there is a world famous guitar repair man (Mark Polk) 80 miles away. I got it cleated and it sounds good as new... Somehow I'm still less than stoked. Luckily my Ukebrand-Mainland came away unscathed.

Its Effed up because I have all kinds of humidifiers and even hygrometers... I was just trying to teach my instruments to get used to me being lazy. I'm using the "worm" thingy in the soundhole, a wet rag in the space where the headstock sits (in the case) and a Martin electronic hygrometer.

Feed and caring turns out to be IMPORTANT!!!