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Paul December
01-14-2012, 05:46 AM
Our home humidity here in Chicago is around 20%, so I keep my ukes in our music studio that is humidity controlled.
Often I see it recommended here to keep your uke in a case with a humidifier if you can't control the room humidity. I thought I'd put this "common knowledge" to the test. Using 3 different humidifiers (one at a time) I checked the humidity inside 4 different foam/soft cases that most of our ukes come in. I put 2 different hygrometers in the cases to measure the humidity. After 72 hrs. these were the readings inside the cases:

Room Humidity 18%
-------------------
Dampit - 21% (23% inside the the uke's sound hole)
Herco - 26%
Homemade - 33%

I understand my hygrometers are measuring the humidity of the air in the case and not the wood, but even making allowances for that, these numbers are terrible. I can only hypothesize that either the case is letting the moisture escape or the fabric & foam is absorbing it.

Gmoney
01-14-2012, 05:56 AM
Our home humidity here in Chicago is around 20%, so I keep my ukes in our music studio that is humidity controlled.
Often I see it recommended here to keep your uke in a case with a humidifier if you can't control the room humidity. I thought I'd put this "common knowledge" to the test. Using 3 different humidifiers (one at a time) I checked the humidity inside 4 different foam/soft cases that most of our ukes come in. I put 2 different hygrometers in the cases to measure the humidity. After 72 hrs. these were the readings inside the cases:

Room Humidity 19%
-------------------
Dampit - 21% (23% inside the the uke's sound hole)
Herco - 26%
Homemade - 33%

I understand my hygrometers are measuring the humidity of the air in the case and not the wood, but even making allowances for that, these numbers are terrible. I can only hypothesize that either the case is letting the moisture escape or the fabric & foam is absorbing it.

I've often thought that this would be the "case" (no pun intended), but didn't take the time to actually measure it. It only seems reasonable that the lining & fabric would simply either absorb or let any moisture escape. An argument for hard shell cases, perhaps, but I'd bet that most of at least the cheaper, poorly constructed ones would do just about as bad. Short of a Calton, Kamoa, or Ameritage, its a wonder to me that any of the commercial mass-produced cases do a good job of keeping the inside humidity different than the room/closet its stored in!

Mahalo... off to "water my ukes"...

Paul December
01-14-2012, 06:00 AM
++ Please Note, I corrected the typo: Room Humidity was 18% not 19% ++

Paul December
01-14-2012, 06:02 AM
I've often thought that this would be the "case" (no pun intended), but didn't take the time to actually measure it. It only seems reasonable that the lining & fabric would simply either absorb or let any moisture escape. An argument for hard shell cases, perhaps, but I'd bet that most of at least the cheaper, poorly constructed ones would do just about as bad. Short of a Calton, Kamoa, or Ameritage, its a wonder to me that any of the commercial mass-produced cases do a good job of keeping the inside humidity different than the room/closet its stored in!

Mahalo... off to "water my ukes"...

I'm thinking of redoing this experiment, and put the cases in air-tight plastic bags to rule-out the moisture escaping.

Dan Uke
01-14-2012, 06:13 AM
I'm thinking of redoing this experiment, and put the cases in air-tight plastic bags to rule-out the moisture escaping.

Why? You are one of the lucky ones to have a humidity controlled room.

Its weird but I personally think my uke sounds better when it's not as humid

Gmoney
01-14-2012, 06:26 AM
I'm thinking of redoing this experiment, and put the cases in air-tight plastic bags to rule-out the moisture escaping.

You could always just shrink-wrap the ukes in some industrial seal-o-vac! Or... just buy carbon fiber ukes from now on! Constant battle, isn't it!

Paul December
01-14-2012, 06:45 AM
Why? You are one of the lucky ones to have a humidity controlled room.
My wife's pianos are in there and don't have easy access to it when she is composing/teaching/recording. (http://solopiano.com/album/548/infinitive/)

Paul December
01-14-2012, 06:49 AM
You could always just shrink-wrap the ukes in some industrial seal-o-vac! Or... just buy carbon fiber ukes from now on! Constant battle, isn't it!

:confused: The other day someone was posting about starting a Uke-related business...
...possibly there is a need for some simple & cheap humidified storage device (that isn't a carrying case). I can't believe it would be too expensive to make a plastic storage box with built-in humidifier.

kenikas
01-14-2012, 08:38 AM
I have most of mine in the semi-hard foam cases with a variety of different humidifiers and a couple in hard cases. They all absorb some for a couple of weeks and then stabilize, the hard cases do keep a bit higher % than the foam but mine are all between about 45-55% in their cases with about 20% average in the house.

mds725
01-14-2012, 08:45 AM
Interesting experiement. I keep my Kamakas in either the hard cases Kamaka sells them with or Oahu hard cases. I haven't done any experiements, but I use an Oasis humidifier (clipped to the case, not inside the soundhole), and my hygrometers typically read ~ 45-55%. I don't know if this is the result of (1) better cases that hold humidity better, (2) better humidifiers, (3) inaccurate hygrometers, or (4) some other factor I haven't yet thought of. I do know that the Oasis humidifiers are releasing moisture, because they shrivel after about a week (and in 4-5 days in the winter).

Paul December
01-14-2012, 10:55 AM
I have most of mine in the semi-hard foam cases with a variety of different humidifiers and a couple in hard cases. They all absorb some for a couple of weeks and then stabilize, the hard cases do keep a bit higher % than the foam but mine are all between about 45-55% in their cases with about 20% average in the house.

That is a good point. The cases probably absorb moisture for some time, then stabilize.

hmgberg
01-14-2012, 11:46 AM
I find that with larger ukuleles or cases, I often need to use more than one humidifier to maintain about 50% RH. In those cases...er, instances, I use an Oasis in the sound hole and a homemade job up at the headstock.

coolkayaker1
01-14-2012, 11:54 AM
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?57739-Tip-On-Inexpensive-amp-Extremely-Effective-(too-effective-)-Humidor!

PaulDec, my friend, see my thread here. I should take a photo. This system (in my thrtead) is ideal! I'm so happy with it. Cheers. Steve CK1

OldePhart
01-14-2012, 12:35 PM
I have one of those foam and canvas cases and several ukes in regular cases. I use the same type of homemade humidifiers in all of them and have to refill the ones in the foam case two to three times as often.

In fact, I have one uke (the one I converted to a resonator) with no case and I hang a couple of the humidifiers inside the body on the theory that any little bit of help is better than nothing. I have to refill the humidifiers in the foam case almost as often as the ones in the uncased uke!

I think the foam and canvas cases are just too porous and are not providing any protection from humidity (or lack thereof) at all.

John

Paul December
01-14-2012, 04:44 PM
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?57739-Tip-On-Inexpensive-amp-Extremely-Effective-(too-effective-)-Humidor!

PaulDec, my friend, see my thread here. I should take a photo. This system (in my thrtead) is ideal! I'm so happy with it. Cheers. Steve CK1

Now I need to run to the patent office before you do!
BTW - I made my homemade humidifier out of a travel soap holder by drilling some holes through it and putting a sponge inside. Possibly using a "mildew/mold resistant" kitchen sponge inside might be a good idea.

coolkayaker1
01-15-2012, 03:27 AM
Mold resistant sponge. Hmmm. I smell a version 1.1 at the patent office. Lol.

I have three sopranos in the under bed box now, humidity 53, and there's room for one more sop if I wanted. It's the way to go. Cheers.

Ps. I,m working on a utube video of Mexican Radio.

kenikas
01-15-2012, 05:21 AM
I find that with larger ukuleles or cases, I often need to use more than one humidifier to maintain about 50% RH. In those cases...er, instances, I use an Oasis in the sound hole and a homemade job up at the headstock.

I have had the same experience, in fact up here in the high desert I have to use 3 in my guitar cases (all hard) to keep the readings the same as my smaller instruments.

efiscella
01-15-2012, 05:32 AM
Our home humidity here in Chicago is around 20%, so I keep my ukes in our music studio that is humidity controlled.
Often I see it recommended here to keep your uke in a case with a humidifier if you can't control the room humidity. I thought I'd put this "common knowledge" to the test. Using 3 different humidifiers (one at a time) I checked the humidity inside 4 different foam/soft cases that most of our ukes come in. I put 2 different hygrometers in the cases to measure the humidity. After 72 hrs. these were the readings inside the cases:

Room Humidity 18%
-------------------
Dampit - 21% (23% inside the the uke's sound hole)
Herco - 26%
Homemade - 33%

I understand my hygrometers are measuring the humidity of the air in the case and not the wood, but even making allowances for that, these numbers are terrible. I can only hypothesize that either the case is letting the moisture escape or the fabric & foam is absorbing it.

I have some experience with keeping cigar humidors at the right humidity. One of the things I learned was that the humidor will absorb the moisture and until that happens, you cannot regulate the humidity. Not until the humidor itself and the contents have absorbed all of the humidity you are looking for them to absorb in order to regulate. With that in mind, I keep refilling my humidifiers when I first get a new uke case. Once the case and ukelele are set- then it keeps a constant humidity. One other trick is this: when I take the uke out of the case, I put the humidifier back in the empty case to keep the humidity at the required percentage and I close and seal the case. I never take the uke out and leave the case open. I always seal it up so that the uke goes back to an idea environment. By doing this, my hygrometers never read in the dangerous level. I would think that the idea of your test is a good one, however, if you did not prep the cases first, what you are seeing is the the result of the case taking on the humidity. Try what I said, for about a week and then take the reading a week or so later.

efiscella
01-15-2012, 05:37 AM
Also, I have the soft cases that you describe and the O'ahu hard cases and I have to refill the soft cases more frequently since a good amount of the humidity escapes. I will note though that as long as I refill, one the desired humidity of the case and uke is attained, it is just a matter of refilling the Oasis or the hero. And just now I realized I made a mistake in my former post. I have Oasis in all of my cases and Herco in only one. I keep the ukulele Oasis in the sound hole.

coolkayaker1
01-15-2012, 06:39 AM
I'm throwing this out as a comment, not a "know it all" suggestion.

I'm somewhat intrigued by the entire humidify the case theory. Cases are felt and cloth lined, and have foam under the cloth. For anyone that has smelled an old instrument case, it's like a locker room. I remember my old trumpet case in grade school had that wet library book smell. And I didn't humidify that instrument at all--the opposite, I had those dampness sucking silica gel packets in there.

With my technique of the plastic container, or those that use a humidifier for the room, etc., there is no case mold.

Why would anyone, unless they had no other option (or were moving the instrument to a gig, for instance), want a damp, rotting sponge or clay in an otherwise lovely and odor-free case?

efiscella
01-15-2012, 06:46 AM
I'm throwing this out as a comment, not a "know it all" suggestion.

I'm somewhat intrigued by the entire humidify the case theory. Cases are felt and cloth lined, and have foam under the cloth. For anyone that has smelled an old instrument case, it's like a locker room. I remember my old trumpet case in grade school had that wet library book smell. And I didn't humidify that instrument at all--the opposite, I had those dampness sucking silica gel packets in there.

With my technique of the plastic container, or those that use a humidifier for the room, etc., there is no case mold.

Why would anyone, unless they had no other option (or were moving the instrument to a gig, for instance), want a damp, rotting sponge or clay in an otherwise lovely and odor-free case?

good point

OldePhart
01-15-2012, 12:30 PM
I'm throwing this out as a comment, not a "know it all" suggestion.

I'm somewhat intrigued by the entire humidify the case theory. Cases are felt and cloth lined, and have foam under the cloth. For anyone that has smelled an old instrument case, it's like a locker room. I remember my old trumpet case in grade school had that wet library book smell. And I didn't humidify that instrument at all--the opposite, I had those dampness sucking silica gel packets in there.

With my technique of the plastic container, or those that use a humidifier for the room, etc., there is no case mold.

Why would anyone, unless they had no other option (or were moving the instrument to a gig, for instance), want a damp, rotting sponge or clay in an otherwise lovely and odor-free case?

Heh, heh. One thing to keep in mind, though - there is a reason that many wind instruments have a "spit valve..." (i.e. that's spit in them musty old cases, son). LOL

coolkayaker1
01-15-2012, 01:45 PM
Good points, all.

Plainsong
01-15-2012, 02:39 PM
Heh, heh. One thing to keep in mind, though - there is a reason that many wind instruments have a "spit valve..." (i.e. that's spit in them musty old cases, son). LOL

Yup. If you lived in a humid place, and never cleaned the inside of the trumpet, it'd be like a science project in there.

My ukes in their cases certainly don't have that smell, and the one in the semi-rigid gig bag with Oasis humidifier and hygrometer, is at 50-55%. The room is usually at 35% with humidifier running, dropping to 20% when it runs out.

3nails4holes
01-15-2012, 05:00 PM
one of the biggest weaknesses to me of this whole idea of keeping your cases/instrument properly humidified is the availability of an affordable, yet accurate hygrometer!

once i was in a pet store and stumbled on hygrometers used to monitor terrariums. i thought that this would be a good and affordable option. but after examining 6-7 ones of at least 2-3 different models, they varied widely in their measurements of the store's humidity!

my budget really doesn't allow for spending $30-40 on a hygrometer. of course, i don't want to incur damage on a $1200 koaloha sceptre either. so, with most in case humidifiers producing only nominal results, i'm at a bit of a loss as to what to do on a budget.

argh.

mds725
01-15-2012, 06:20 PM
my budget really doesn't allow for spending $30-40 on a hygrometer. of course, i don't want to incur damage on a $1200 koaloha sceptre either. so, with most in case humidifiers producing only nominal results, i'm at a bit of a loss as to what to do on a budget.

I have this Oasis hygrometer (http://www.amazon.com/Oasis-OH-2-Digital-Hygrometer-clip/dp/B0018A21QC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326691154&sr=8-1). I'm not sure how objectively accurate it is, but I would guess it's within 5 percent of actual relative huimidity, and I believe it's internally consistent -- that it, it accurately reflects fluctuations in relative humidity. As for finding $40 bucks to monitor the health of your $1,200 ukulele, it'll cost you a lot more to repair a crack in a KoAloha Sceptre than to prevent one.

Drew Bear
01-15-2012, 06:35 PM
I'm not sure how objectively accurate it is, but I would guess it's within 5 percent of actual relative huimidity, and I believe it's internally consistent -- that it, it accurately reflects fluctuations in relative humidity.I'd say the same for this one:
http://www.amazon.com/Analog-Hygrometer-2-25-Western-Humidors/dp/B0007VWEQA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1326691828&sr=8-2

Should be calibrated every few months:
https://www.cigarextras.com/event/page/pageCode/hygrometercalibration

The cigar folks sell expensive digital hygrometers if you want more reassurance.

Edit: I'm not sure what makes a digital hygrometer more accurate. (Does anyone know?) Personally I'm more reassured by the analog one that can be calibrated.

Plainsong
01-15-2012, 07:21 PM
My cheap analogue one did well when tested, and it matches what the digital Oasis says. Still, I eye it skeptically, can't help it. It'll get replaced. The cheap digital room hygrometer agrees with the humidifier's indicator on the other side of the room. If all the gauges agree, then that can't be bad, unless they're all broke.

My husband got a more expensive analogue model from a tobacco store, and it's stuck at anything above 60%. The jerk who owns the store claims it's the best one.

ErlingH
01-16-2012, 08:31 AM
Hi,
Just wanted to follow-up on the foam-case (suppose that's synonymous to gigbag?). That was very interesting. I have measured around my appartment and while variations aren't that big, my uke's gigbag is the driest spot in the entire appartment! Will get a hardcase for the upgrade!

coolkayaker1
01-16-2012, 08:37 AM
No sense trashing a hard case with fungus. PLastic storage box and sponge. ErlingH.

ErlingH
01-16-2012, 09:21 AM
I think the plastic storage box seems like a really sensible and practical solution and will get one of those too... but for damping I have bought an Oasis... maybe that's too small, and then maybe I'll try the sponge too... Still no mould in those?

Plainsong
01-16-2012, 12:46 PM
Mold shouldn't be an issue if you use distilled water. I know the science project smell of a student clarinet case. My cases a fresh as koa daisies. :)