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View Full Version : Humidity - is it a bad idea to bring a HI uke to MT?



WestyShane
03-06-2013, 04:15 PM
Greetings All! I'm going to Hawaii for the first time in a couple months and was thinking that it would be a great time to buy my first "decent" uke to augment my $40 Mahalo soprano.

The thing is that "home" is Montana. The humidity here regularly dips into the high 20s in the summer. It's higher in the winter but I also heat my house with a woodstove.

Would it be a bad idea to bring a uke from humid HI to dry cold MT? I'm not opposed to keeping it in a case with a sponge or something but I'm not about to buy something that needs plugged into electricity to humidify my room.

Would it be best to spend my souvineer $ on shirts and save my uke allowance for a Gibson (they make 'em right down the road from me)?

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
03-06-2013, 04:24 PM
I'm assuming you are talking about a solid wood uke as opposed to a laminate one. In that case, you need to ask the builder what kind of environment the uke was built and the wood was stored in. You are looking for a controlled atmosphere of close to 45% relative humidity. Even so, it is your responsibility to maintain the proper humidity for your instrument. Just don't buy it, bring it home and ignore it. Make sure you are able to take proper care of it before making the investment.

NoKaOi
03-06-2013, 04:54 PM
You can get a decent humidifier for less than 10bucks, but they do require occasionally making sure water retention source (sponge, etc) isn't drying out. Although I'm in California, I have a load of relatively sensitive guitars & a few solid ukes, but with a proper case & decent H20 source, I'd gather you'll be fine with some preparation.

My ukes go back 'n forth to Maui all the time without a hitch, & it's inordinately dry in my house right now owing to the rippin fireplace insert that's going nightly -- we Californian's are such wussys when it comes to the cold! :)

As far as Gibson goes, are you talking a Gibson Uke?? Though I certainly wish they'd engage in that endeavor again, they haven't make Uke's (to my knowledge anyway) in years -- ahhhh....what I would give for a vintage UB-5 Gibson, or an ultra-rare 1927 tenor...
:drool:

Alo)(a, NKO

HBolte
03-07-2013, 02:10 AM
It really does not matter where the uke comes from, as Chuck said, you are going to have to take care of it properly. That said, the best uke's are made in Hawaii! ;)

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
03-07-2013, 06:22 AM
Let me clarify.

While it doesn't matter in what geographic location your uke was built it DOES matter under what conditions it was built!!! Trust me, it really does. I know of plenty of Hawaiian ukuleles that have cracked or warped after living in a Mainland environment for a while. An ukulele built in an 80% RH environment will not be happy for long in an environment of 20% !
I don't care who your builder or manufacturer is, ask them! Make sure their climate is controlled and that their wood is stored properly.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
03-07-2013, 07:02 AM
I bought a guitar i made built around 45% in Sydney to a hot dry (bout 10-20% RH) Colorado in march and it cracked before I could buy a humidifer - but it was slabby Madagascan rosewood more prone to crack then downtown LA.

Buy a humidifier then all is well. Just turn off the central heating vents in the room where you have the uke and humidifier otherwise it is a battle of humidity wits. Also, buy this
http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Tools/Measuring_tools/Digital_Humidity_Gauge.html?actn=100101&xst=3&xsr=1676

Note Mr Montana, I thought mine was broken, then i read the fine print and saw that it doesn't work below 20%....

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
03-07-2013, 07:18 AM
Buy a humidifier then all is well.

Not necessarily so, unless you can maintain a relative humidity that matches the RH in which the instrument was built. Humidity levels often hover around between 70% and 80% here in Hawaii. Is it expected that the customer maintain that level of humidity in order for the uke to survive? I wouldn't buy an ukulele from anyone unless I first made sure it was built within the proper RH levels.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
03-07-2013, 07:37 AM
Not necessarily so, unless you can maintain a relative humidity that matches the RH in which the instrument was built. Humidity levels often hover around between 70% and 80% here in Hawaii. Is it expected that the customer maintain that level of humidity in order for the uke to survive? I wouldn't but an ukulele from anyone unless I first made sure it was built within the proper RH levels.

Yes, true- I should have stated that the humidifier be set so as to maintain the correct safe levels of the 40% RH range, assuming the uke was built in that RH range.

Im in colorado and am building a guitar for a local guy and we discussed and concluded to build it in the 30% range to minimise cracking issues- (all the shops around here have a humidifier going 24/7 and ive still had to point out cracked tops, a new Martin uke being one of them) that could be an option if you go for a custom builder, and if you don't plan on moving to Seattle with it. You would have to specifically mention such a thing in any resale venture though.

WestyShane
03-07-2013, 03:40 PM
I appreciate the feedback guys, thanks. Is it reasonable to assume a humidifier like this thing (Oasis Guitar Humidifier) would maintain 45% +/- humidiy inside some sort of uke case as long as I was diligent about keeping it moist?

http://www.samash.com/p/Oasis_Guitar%20Humidifier_-49982388?cm_mmc=GoogleShopping-_-Guitars-_-Channeladvisor-_-Oasis+Guitar+Humidifier&utm_source=GSH&utm_medium=CSE&utm_campaign=Channeladvisor&CAWELAID=1594695322&cagpspn=pla&gclid=CNXR3uCK7LUCFYxDMgod7T8AnQ

And to NoKaoi, sorry, my bad. I don't have some inside line on a Gibson uke, I just assumed they made them but had them confused with Martin (who oddly enough has a factory near my childhood home town).

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
03-07-2013, 03:52 PM
Any humidifier, even a home made one, is better than none. Oasis and Planet Waves are a couple of the best.

WestyShane
03-07-2013, 05:24 PM
So another question. In my price range (around $300, maybe a small bit more) I suspect I'm scratching the bottom of the solid top ukes and not getting something made in HI, certainly not custom - right?

How likely is it that the retailers who I'll visit in Maui will know what the conditions were in the place of manufacture of any given uke tat they stock in my price range?

NoKaOi
03-07-2013, 06:16 PM
No worries bud - I (honestly) am humbled by being in this thread amongst some incredible Uke luthier royalty! I'm on island a number of times/yearly & have looked all over for something affordable (to travel with) to buy, but past two trips I just played lots & lots of different stuff & never found anything that floated my boat, with the exception of some stuff I played at Ken Potts custom shop in Lahaina, but (as I indicated previously) I'd made a pact that there would be no liens on the Lamborghini for ANY instrument purchases!

My 15-y/o nephew works at Lahaina Music -- he's been playing since 3 & just won the Maui Ukulele competition at Hula Grill, so he's no slouch when it comes to uke knowledge -- which is a well-run, honest shop....but unless you're buying custom, nobody is gonna be able to give you construction history on a production Uke, with the exception of perhaps going to KoAloha or Kamaka & conniving them into selling you something OTC..

Anyway, after two trips looking/playing (& even with my nephews discount), and may be chastised for recommending this, but I purchased a closeout Kala after directly speaking with Kala's shop technician, where he assured me that the only difference between the last years (I was bidding on/buying) & the newer ($500) model (that I'd played & really liked at Lahaina Music) they just released at NAMM, was the source of the Mahogany and the heads. :)

I bought this FULLY expecting to have to do some fretwork & with the chance I may receive "B-stock" which would necessitate a return/refund, but there was only a VERY teeny tiny flaw on the side near the EQ, and an inordinately small fret buzz at the 1st fret on top string (many wouldn't even notice, but it was easily addressed by moi..) that the seller ended up crediting me an additional $20 for. So I got the ALL solid Mahogany Kala, KA-SMHGTE-C cutaway, w/pickup/EQ for $169 total! Bought a nice foam case on Musicians friend for $35 w/ coupon code & I'm set with a travel uke for just over $200 bones!

Now, it doesn't quite compare to my custom, Koa concert that was built by a very persnickety Kona luthier, but it certainly doesn't sound like it set me back over a grand cheaper either! (we worked out a guitar trade for the custom uke.. ; )

Anyway, here is the link -- there are like 3 more, but they're all over the web at closeout pricing ($200ish), which is less than half normal retail & an even much larger discount over the newer model..

http://www.ebay.com/itm/251214857551

____________________________________


And to NoKaoi, sorry, my bad. I don't have some inside line on a Gibson uke, I just assumed they made them but had them confused with Martin (who oddly enough has a factory near my childhood home town).

So another question. In my price range (around $300, maybe a small bit more) I suspect I'm scratching the bottom of the solid top ukes and not getting something made in HI, certainly not custom - right?

How likely is it that the retailers who I'll visit in Maui will know what the conditions were in the place of manufacture of any given uke tat they stock in my price range

Skinny Money McGee
03-08-2013, 02:18 AM
Pono's are made in Asia and in your price range. Here is a factory tour video show the build process and the humidity controls they use. Andrew at Hawaiian Music Supply can fix you up with any one you want.

http://vimeo.com/60022562

bnolsen
03-20-2013, 11:16 AM
Instead of worrying, just get a laminate and be done with it. I live in CO as well. Guitar center has a special humidified room for the acoustics. They just leave the laminates out on the floor out of that room for display and handling.

So you've got a choice, having to dig that really nice ukulele out of a case to play it, or leaving something like a fluke or flea standing around, or a nice laminate hanging on the wall always begging to be played?

NoKaOi
03-20-2013, 02:29 PM
Well, although I have the advantage of a climate controlled room to house all my stringed instruments, popping a Uke in a case w/humidifier isn't much of an issue for me, and certainly worth the extra effort, imo. No disrespect, & to each their own, but my 1st experience playing a solid wood-topped guitar many, many years ago forever shaped my future stringed instrument acquisitions.

While there are some incredibly beautiful Ukes (& various stringed instruments for that matter..) with laminate tops, solid wood makes such an incredible difference in tone, that it's very difficult to go back to playing something with a ply top. I have found some instruments with laminated side & back bodies in which only a very intricately sensitive ear can hear the difference...but the soundboard material makes an amazing amount of difference to anyone's respective ears, imo.


Instead of worrying, just get a laminate and be done with it. I live in CO as well. Guitar center has a special humidified room for the acoustics. They just leave the laminates out on the floor out of that room for display and handling.

So you've got a choice, having to dig that really nice ukulele out of a case to play it, or leaving something like a fluke or flea standing around, or a nice laminate hanging on the wall always begging to be played?

csibona
03-21-2013, 05:21 AM
I live in Colorado as well, and I use a humidifier in the house and in-case humidifiers for the ukuleles. Some of the ukulele cases get two in-case humidifiers. I fill up the in case humidifiers about once a week - it is surprising how quickly they lose water. When I go away for longer periods of time I put the ukuleles in a closet and cover in plastic... I use the Oasis humidifiers but would suspect that others work well too. I have thus far had no issues - I've had a solid koa Mya-Moe for about three years.