PDA

View Full Version : Humidity?



Tudorp
05-20-2011, 12:13 PM
Ok, I am sure this has been asked many times, but frankly, I am being lazy and dont want to search through threads..

What is the standard humidity % solid wood ukes do best in?

The reason I am asking, because I like to stay 35-50%. I have a guy asking me because he has several ukes (none of mine thank God) in a cedar closet that he keeps at 60% or so humidity. He keeps several ukes and guitars in that closet. He lives in AZ where it is very dry, so sure he NEEDS to have a climate for his instruments. But, isn't 60% quite high? the reason is he has two solid wood ukes where the backs have warped on him. I am guessing he has had some drastic changes in humidity from the dry climate, vs the high humidity in his closet..

Anyway.. What IS the reading solid wood ukes should be best in?

Thanks

Tudorp
05-20-2011, 12:15 PM
BTW: He is asking me how to fix them. Im not sure what to tell him. He is trying to "warp them back" by adding even MORE humidity, and drying them out. I think he is doing more damage than good on that, and I am not sure once wood has warped like that, you can get it back without destroying the rest of the instrument including the neck... I had already told him that stability in levels are more important than the actual number, but too high is as bad as too low. I am thinking he is completely ruining those instruments by cranking it up then down. Sure, he'll get the wood to do something, but I dont think it's gonna do what he wants it to that way..

roxhum
05-20-2011, 12:31 PM
While you are answering Tudorp's question I am wondering if the outdoor rate is 65% to 100% relative humidity with an average year round temperature range of 45 to 68 degrees and indoor heat that is on from 1 to 5 hours a day surely that is enough humidity indoors to keep ukes healthy and happy without additionally humidifying them. Yes?

dnewton2
05-20-2011, 01:03 PM
I think i have read 40 to 60 relative humidity is ideal.

If heat and or ac is running, more so heat, the humidity inside is going to be pretty low. Heaters suck the water out of the air like nothing

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
05-20-2011, 01:07 PM
It really depends on the conditions in which the instrument was built. If it was built outside on a rainy day in the middle of a summer afternoon in Missouri, then 70% might be too low! The standard rule of thumb for instruments built under climate controlled conditions is to maintain humidity levels at around 50%, +/- 5%. If you need to err, err on the side of higher humidity. Low humidity is much more harmful than high humidity is. If the RH is too low the instrument can crack, split and pull apart as the woods shrinks, often requiring a repair. If the RH is too high, the wood will swell, pushing the joints even tighter together, but sometimes to the point where some distortion may occur. In most cases this is a temporary situation and returning the instrument back to a more "normal" environment will often remedy the problem in a short period of time.

roxhum
05-20-2011, 01:49 PM
Thank you!

Brad Bordessa
05-20-2011, 02:00 PM
There you have it. The man has spoken.

Tudorp
05-20-2011, 02:08 PM
Thats the ticket.. Thanks, thats what I was lookin for..

OldePhart
05-20-2011, 02:25 PM
Not an answer to the specific question but a general observation - I kind of suspect that many folks may tend to over-humidify (I don't think 60% RH falls into this category) and we probably kind of foster that here with our emphasis on using humidifiers, etc. I kind of shudder when I hear people say things like, "I don't have gage but I just keep 4 humidifiers in the case to make sure."

Also, if you happen to have one of those cases with the built in hygrometer - ignore it. Those cheap analog gages are pretty useless. Just for giggles I kept my digital in my UkeCrazy case for a few days - I couldn't add enough humidifiers to keep the built-in gage at 50% - meanwhile the digital was reading well over 70%!

I agree with Chuck that I'd rather have an instrument a bit too humid than too dry - but I have seen a couple of ukes here that were obvious cases of "way too wet." In a recent example the owner had filed the bridge saddle down to the nubs trying to compensate for a top that was bowed up from too much humidity. He mistook the problem for a badly set neck, when it's far more likely the top had simply swelled.

Many years ago I had a classical guitar that I bought off eBay. It came from Florida, and had obviously been someone's beach guitar - there was even sand in the case and you could smell the sea. It was a cheap ca 1970 classical guitar out of Brazil but it had great action and good sound. By the time I had owned the guitar for about six months, keeping it in my office that runs about 40-50% RH, the top had dried out enough that it sunk to the point that the strings were almost touching the frets because the previous owner had filed the bridge saddle way down to compensate for a badly swelled top.

I think this is going to become more and more of an issue with the current popularity of cedar and spruce tops on ukuleles. Cedar and spruce have a much more open cellular structure than do traditional uke hardwoods like koa and mahogany and as a consequence they can absorb a lot more water and swell far more than the hardwoods. Combine that with the popularity of tenors vs. former high popularity of soprano bodies and I think we're going to see more and more ukes where tops have swelled enough to adversely affect action.

I have a cedar tenor that I bought used and I suspect that the top has swelled just a little on it from being over-humidified, though nowhere near as bad as the other cases I've mentioned. I'm keeping an eye on it, measuring the action every several days until it stabilizes, before I take any action to adjust the action.

I guess what I'm getting at is that you can't just "humidify on autopilot." You need to really watch what is happening with your ukes, especially those with softwood tops and larger bodies, and adjust your humidification as needed. When in doubt, err on the side of a little extra humidity. But, pay close attention to what's happening with the action and if your action is getting higher it's a pretty good sign you may be overdoing it with the humidity.

John

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
05-20-2011, 02:32 PM
More important than specific numbers, is knowing the conditions under which your uke was built and try to match it as closely as is reasonable.

Plainsong
05-20-2011, 02:54 PM
If you have an analogue gauge, then get a kit to help you check its accuracy. I have one out of 5 that is accurate. So they're not all crap, but one out of 5 is not good. :)

I have a digital hygrometer in the room, and then the one on the room humidifier. That's also a good indication right there. One Oasis per case seems to keep constant at 50-55%, so that makes me happy. :)

mds725
05-20-2011, 07:27 PM
While you are answering Tudorp's question I am wondering if the outdoor rate is 65% to 100% relative humidity with an average year round temperature range of 45 to 68 degrees and indoor heat that is on from 1 to 5 hours a day surely that is enough humidity indoors to keep ukes healthy and happy without additionally humidifying them. Yes?

One should never assume that the humidity in a heated room is the same as the humidity outdoors, as many forms of heat tend to make air drier. For peace of mind, get a hygrometer you can trust and measure the humidity in the ukulele's immediate environement -- a case if you keep it in a case, the room it's in if it isn't in a case.

roxhum
05-21-2011, 03:35 AM
When I said the heat was on 1 to 5 hours a day I didn't mean it was literally blowing. My point is it isn't very cold outside so even though the heater is turned to come on when it goes below 68 degrees it shuts off an on mostly off. I had trouble finding an affordable hygrometer. I will try again. My guess is it is plenty humid in my house.

acbot
05-21-2011, 03:55 AM
Digital hygrometers are 10 bucks on ebay.

Is there any way to lower humidity in a case? Some sort of desiccant?

byjimini
05-21-2011, 07:43 AM
I keep my ukes in their cases, along with one of those silicon gel packets that usually comes with the case. That way they can't get damaged, but I've no idea about humidity. I did have a solid-spruce top before and it cracked slightly, so before I get my new uke I think I'll research it a little.

ksiegel
05-21-2011, 02:03 PM
I keep my ukes in their cases, along with one of those silicon gel packets that usually comes with the case. That way they can't get damaged, but I've no idea about humidity. I did have a solid-spruce top before and it cracked slightly, so before I get my new uke I think I'll research it a little.

The silica gel packets are desiccants - they are meant to REMOVE humidity from the environment in which they are kept. That can cause damage from low humidity.

-Kurt

acbot
05-21-2011, 02:56 PM
But say RH is 70%, can you use desiccants to lower the humidity in your case to a reasonable level?

Gmoney
05-21-2011, 03:53 PM
But say RH is 70%, can you use desiccants to lower the humidity in your case to a reasonable level?

Yes. These are also commercially sold for musical instruments. Look for "Zorb-it":

http://www.zorb-it.com/Scripts/prodList.asp?idCategory=6

70sSanO
05-21-2011, 05:14 PM
While this won't give an accurate reading for the instrument in a case or closet, it is an interesting overview of current humidity.

http://www.usairnet.com/weather/maps/current/relative-humidity/

I hope no one takes this to the extreme and only pulls the uke out of the case and plays when the humidity is ideal.

John

southcoastukes
05-21-2011, 05:38 PM
I hope no one takes this to the extreme and only pulls the uke out of the case and plays when the humidity is ideal.

John

Looks like if you live in Arizona you live in fear for your ukulele.

acbot
05-21-2011, 07:51 PM
Yes. These are also commercially sold for musical instruments. Look for "Zorb-it":

http://www.zorb-it.com/Scripts/prodList.asp?idCategory=6

Thanks Gmoney

Canoe Lady
05-24-2011, 05:45 AM
More important than specific numbers, is knowing the conditions under which your uke was built and try to match it as closely as is reasonable.

So I need to move to Hawaii??? Cool!!!