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Valerie
12-29-2008, 07:23 PM
So, UAS has struck, and I bought a new uke!!!

But... It's a solid wood instrument- and that means I'm a bit worried about humidity and wood cracking...

Anyways, where I live, the humidity seldomly drops below 50% (I live in a freaking swamp, after all...)

So, before, when I've had all solid wood instruments, I'd never really worry about cracks and such- as I figured the humidity was always about where it needed to be.

I also hate keeping instruments in cases- I like to hang them on my wall for easy access.

All that said... I'm already a little worried. I'd hate to get this new instrument and for it to get a crack. But... How worried should I be, really? I bought from MGM, and the outfit comes with a humidifier... (Which is what started my worrying...)


So ramble over, and here is my point: Is there some dead set rule about using humidifiers and checking humidity levels when it comes to solid wood ukes? Should I go out and buy a hygrometer right now, or can I just rely on the local weather channel's humidity readings???

Or can I do what I did for my old violin and guitar and not worry about humidity at all and just be happy that I live in the perfect inviroment for musical instruments?


BTW: today's humidity level??? 65%

koalohapaul
12-29-2008, 08:20 PM
If the temperature is moderate, you are in a perfect environment. If it gets sweltering hot and the relative humidity is high, you might be in trouble over the long run. Keep in mind that humidity is relative and hotter air can hold more moisture than colder air. So a relative humidity of 65% at 90 degrees has more moisture in the air than 65% at 70 degrees.

The most important factor is the change of temperature. As long as you don't have 50 degree swings during the seasons, you should be fine. Our temperature ranges between the 70s-90s in Hawaii and the humidity is usually between 60-70ish percent on a normal day. Most of us are lucky enough to be able to build without climate controlled rooms. Shops on the mainland and overseas usually build in a room that does have some form of climate control, or they just wait until the weather is suitable for building.

All wood instruments will try to adjust to their surroundings, so stability is the most important factor in maintaining the longevity. Settling in a couple of times shouldn't hurt a well built uke, but if it expands every summer and contracts every winter, damage is inevitable.

Plainsong
12-29-2008, 08:33 PM
I keep the apartment at between 40%-50% in the winter just by using a small room humidifier or doing the laundry. Any lower than 40% and it's time to bring out the humidifier.

In the summer it's a non-issue, getting almost to 60% indoors, but the temp is inside is just about constant.

I have had one neck develope a crack already from those conditions, but it was only a surface crack and easily repairable by a local luthier. You can't see it anymore thanks to the wonderful invention called glue.

Valerie
12-29-2008, 08:44 PM
Average temp in my area, for fall, winter and spring is 75 degrees with humidity in the 60's. The coldest it's ever really gets is low 20's- and that's really rare... Maybe, one, two days a year it will be that cold. We really only have two seasons here: summer and not summer. Overall temperature ranges from 20-105 at the extreems. Take out the extreems and the average temp range is about 40-90. Closer to 40 in the winter month, closer to 90 in the summer, and around 75 during spring and fall.

Today was in the upper 50's.

Summer is different with the temp shooting up- but then we turn on the AC, keeping the house at about 85 degrees...

So, maybe I just need to get a hygrometer and just make sure the humidity doesn't drop too low in my room (or too high- which in my climate is the more likely occurance...)

I just hate the idea of keeping any instrument in a case! But... in the last few hours I've read lots of horror stories about instruments cracking and such... Which is kinda making me reconsider my cases are evil philosophy.

koalohapaul
12-29-2008, 08:57 PM
Sounds like you should be okay. It would still be a good idea to get a hygrometer and keep track of the temperature and relative humidity in your house, though.

Think of cases and humidifiers as insurance. Most people, myself included, don't like paying for car insurance, but you sure are thankful when you get in an accident. Some instruments might last a long time before sustaining damage due to the weather, but there's no way to predict when it will happen to which instrument. Keeping them properly humidified, or dehumidified is always a good idea.

I would say that you're in good shape if your violin and guitar have lasted, but again, it's nice to be safe.

Pippin
12-29-2008, 10:21 PM
I have several solid wood instruments here (Columbus, Ohio) and have never had an instrument crack. No, I don't use any humidifiers, although my guitar case has a built-in hygrometer. I have never had to worry living here, even though winters are cold. They are damp, too, because we are at low elevation and that has a lot more to do with it.

Dampness is not an issue unless you have so much that mildew develops and no instrument that is played regularly should experience that. In storage long-term, that's another thing.

Air Conditioning and heat blowing on an instrument can cause rapid changes in conditions, so, avoid that. It is better to keep instruments in their cases or boxes rather than be exposed to heat, cold, or sunlight, yes sunlight, as in direct sun.

If you live at higher elevations, that is when you have to worry the most.

HoldinCoffee
12-29-2008, 10:54 PM
There is ABSOLUTELY NO reason to keep a ukulele in a case or avoid proudly displaying it on a wall. The idea that a uke should be kept out of direct sunlight is ridiculous. Just use common sense. Ukuleles should remain above a 500 foot elevation above sea-level, in the relative humidty range mentioned above. Therefore you must move to the top of a mountain... in Hawaii. After that, all is right with the world.

Ukuleleblues
12-30-2008, 12:38 AM
I also live in a swamp and have had no problems with instruments. Low humidity is 50%, (they have burn bans when it get that low). Usually 65-90%temps summer L65- H95, winter L28 H78.

I also used to worry but now think high humidity here could be a worse problem, (bubbled up bridge area on guitars).

I'd play it for all it's worth and a good rule of thumb I've been told is if you can stand the temp the uke should be OK.

deach
12-30-2008, 12:48 AM
I think everyone is missing the most important part of this post.

What did you get? Pics? helllloooo.......

dnewton2
12-30-2008, 02:29 AM
There is ABSOLUTELY NO reason to keep a ukulele in a case or avoid proudly displaying it on a wall. The idea that a uke should be kept out of direct sunlight is ridiculous. Just use common sense. Ukuleles should remain above a 500 foot elevation above sea-level, in the relative humidty range mentioned above. Therefore you must move to the top of a mountain... in Hawaii. After that, all is right with the world.

I am going to have to disagree with ABSOLUTELY NO reason. There rest of the post cotradicts that absolute statement. I am not a luither, but I did study building materials in school (wood) and wood does absorb moisture causing swell and relase moisture causing shrink. Swell or shrink could cause problems (cracks) in wood. I am pretty sure there are members, Nukedoc for one, that have a cracked ukes from displaying it on their wall. (pretty sure I read that somewhere)

As for Valerie just be careful I am sure if you keep it in an environment mentioned above you should be fine.

Oh yeah, congrates on the new uke and like Deach said, where's the pics?

Valerie
12-30-2008, 04:47 AM
I don't have it yet... So no pics. But it is coming.

sukie
12-30-2008, 07:07 AM
i think everyone is missing the most important part of this post.

what did you get? Pics? Helllloooo.......

lol!.......

I'd certainly listen to K.Paul. He builds ukuleles and quite fine ones to boot.

HoldinCoffee
12-30-2008, 08:03 PM
Its an uke, not a crackbaby! Play it, display!! If it breaks, get a new one.

(I have a solid mahogany that rides in the trunk of my car... W/O a case!!!)

deach
12-31-2008, 12:59 AM
Its an uke, not a crackbaby! Play it, display!! If it breaks, get a new one.

(I have a solid mahogany that rides in the trunk of my car... W/O a case!!!)


Are you offering to buy her a new one when hers cracks? Mighty nice of you.

deach
12-31-2008, 01:00 AM
I don't have it yet... So no pics. But it is coming.

Why are you such a tease? At least tell us what you bought.

Valerie
12-31-2008, 01:22 AM
Its an uke, not a crackbaby! Play it, display!! If it breaks, get a new one.

(I have a solid mahogany that rides in the trunk of my car... W/O a case!!!)
-Well, I had to sell my guitar, and use all my x-mas money to raise the funds to buy this new uke (Koa Pili Koko concert size). So I want to take not just good care of it, but great.

After thinking about it... I've decided to not buy a hygrometer, as an accurate one is past my budget- and I don't see the point in spending 5-40 dollars on an inaccurate one (BUT!!! if anyone knows of a good, at least mostly accurate hygrometer for under 40 bucks...). But, what I will do is get a thermometer in my room.

I was considering keeping the uke in the case during the winter and keeping it out the rest of the year... But I actually doubt the case is air tight, so I'm not too sure if that would be much help... But I will most likely give it a try anyways.

It looks like I'll just have to risk it. I graduate from school in a year in a half. The uke just has to last that long.

deach
12-31-2008, 01:45 AM
... I've decided to not buy a hygrometer, as an accurate one is past my budget- and I don't see the point in spending 5-40 dollars on an inaccurate one (BUT!!! if anyone knows of a good, at least mostly accurate hygrometer for under 40 bucks...). ....

I've only seen the ones in pet stores and cigar humidors. Do you have a link to some that are more accurate?

Congrats on the KPK. Can't wait to hear it!

Tanizaki
12-31-2008, 02:46 AM
-Well, I had to sell my guitar, and use all my x-mas money to raise the funds to buy this new uke (Koa Pili Koko concert size). So I want to take not just good care of it, but great.

After thinking about it... I've decided to not buy a hygrometer, as an accurate one is past my budget- and I don't see the point in spending 5-40 dollars on an inaccurate one (BUT!!! if anyone knows of a good, at least mostly accurate hygrometer for under 40 bucks...). But, what I will do is get a thermometer in my room.

I was considering keeping the uke in the case during the winter and keeping it out the rest of the year... But I actually doubt the case is air tight, so I'm not too sure if that would be much help... But I will most likely give it a try anyways.

It looks like I'll just have to risk it. I graduate from school in a year in a half. The uke just has to last that long.

Your home isn't airtight either, but I assure you that the temperature and relative humidity in your home is different from the outside air.

I find your attitude a bit baffling. You acknowledge the risk of neglecting maintaining proper humidity, but your belief of "I don't like cases" overrides that risk? A person might as well buy a nice car but refuse to change the oil, or keep binging after gastric bypass surgery.

I am sure more people will pipe in with stories about how they've never humidified a wood instrument and it sounded like a Strad each time, just like everyone has a story about their Uncle Grady who survived a car crash because he was not wearing a seat belt. The fact is, most of the time Uncle Grady has to be scraped off the pavement with a spatula.

The price you paid for your KPK is an entry fee. What happens next is your call. I am interested in a KPK for my next ukulele, so I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the instrument once it arrives.

Valerie
12-31-2008, 08:47 AM
I guess my big thing with cases is this:

It's like buying a painting and then keeping it in a box- and only taking it out when you are in the mood to look at it. Sure, every now and then you'll pull it out to take a gander. But... If you had it out, hanging on your wall, you'd look at it more often.

The same is true with me and instruments. If I put them in their cases they tend to stay in the cases. But if I have them out, I play them much more often and get that much more enjoyment out of them.

But I know it's a bad habit- and that's why, up to now, I've never bought a solid wood uke.

However, the horror stories do have me worried and I think in the long run I'll probably just keep my other ukes out, and keep the KPK in the case- at least during the winter months (and I think buying a better case would be the best investment rather than buying a hygrometer that isn't accurate/ needs calibration every week~ So that's what I'm going to save up for right now...)

Maybe I am being dense about refusing to buy a hygrometer... But... My old violin case had a hygrometer ibuilt into it (one of those 8 dollar analog ones). My teacher told me not to go by it. She said many students ended up with cracked/warped instruments by trying to maintain proper humidity using a cheap hygrometer- and as I said before, good hygrometers are expensive...

Tanizaki
12-31-2008, 09:54 AM
I guess my big thing with cases is this:

It's like buying a painting and then keeping it in a box- and only taking it out when you are in the mood to look at it. Sure, every now and then you'll pull it out to take a gander. But... If you had it out, hanging on your wall, you'd look at it more often.

The same is true with me and instruments. If I put them in their cases they tend to stay in the cases. But if I have them out, I play them much more often and get that much more enjoyment out of them.

But I know it's a bad habit- and that's why, up to now, I've never bought a solid wood uke.

However, the horror stories do have me worried and I think in the long run I'll probably just keep my other ukes out, and keep the KPK in the case- at least during the winter months (and I think buying a better case would be the best investment rather than buying a hygrometer that isn't accurate/ needs calibration every week~ So that's what I'm going to save up for right now...)

Maybe I am being dense about refusing to buy a hygrometer... But... My old violin case had a hygrometer ibuilt into it (one of those 8 dollar analog ones). My teacher told me not to go by it. She said many students ended up with cracked/warped instruments by trying to maintain proper humidity using a cheap hygrometer- and as I said before, good hygrometers are expensive...

Argument by analogy is always fallacious. That having been said, the ambient air can have detrimental effect on painted art. Google "art restoration" for more, with the Sistine Chapel being perhaps the most notable example in recent times.

If your problem is "out of sight, out of mind", it occurs to me that the better solution is to change your attitude. This is good advice not just for the care of physical possessions, but other matters as well. What isn't in your direct view won't hurt you; it will kill you. Ounce of prevention and all that.

Humidifiers are dirt cheap. You can even make one from florist foam. A good hygrometer can be had for $30. That is not as expensive as replacing an instrument, and cheaper than a case. No case is going to magically maintain proper humidity.

EDIT: I hope you don't think I am giving you a hard time. That is not my intention. I just hate to see that lovely KPK in undue jeopardy. :)

Valerie
12-31-2008, 10:51 AM
Okay, first of all: I wasn't trying to argue with you. I was trying to explain why I don't like keeping instruments in cases. If you took it as me arguing: I'm sorry--- I actually agree with everything you said.

Second: Hygrometers are notoriously inaccurate. But, if you know of a good 30 dollar one, that accurately reads RH, please could you tell me the brand name: I've been hunting for one for two days now and whenever I read product reviews for hygrometers in that price range they end up being either inaccurate or need to be calibrated a lot- and I've not the time or money to constantly be calibrating a cheap hygrometer. If I had that kind of money I'd just buy a good hygrometer that doesn't have to be calibrated a lot...

Third: I have a humidifier. I'm going to keep the instrument in the case- a good case- and humidify the case. I don't want anything to happen to the KPK either. This whole string of posts has really been me typing up whatever thoughts were currently in my head. For all I know, tomorrow I may feel like I absoutely need to spend 100+ bucks on a good hygrometer (I mean... I should be getting a tax refund in a few weeks...)

sukie
12-31-2008, 01:18 PM
Here's a question I don't have an answer to -- and usually I have an opinion -- why would you need a hygrometer (?) in your case if you use a humidifier? I don't mean to be argumentative at all, just curious. Wouldn't the humidifier just take care of any humidity questions so why worry? I hate to put my KoAloha in its case but there's no way I want it to crack so in the case it lives -- until summer.

Valerie
12-31-2008, 01:33 PM
A hygrometer is used to measure the humidity level. Most wood instruments should be kept at around 40-70% (I *think*...)

So, if the hygrometer is drifting towards 40% you use a humidifier, if it's in the safe zone (~45-65%) you leave well enough alone, and if it drifts towards 70 you de-humidify.

It's really just a way to be certain that the humidity level is correct, because if you use a humidifier, and it's not needed you can actually damage the instrument (the wood swells.)



(someone can correct if I'm wrong... but I'm 95% confident that I'm not making stuff up.)

Tanizaki
12-31-2008, 02:32 PM
Second: Hygrometers are notoriously inaccurate. But, if you know of a good 30 dollar one, that accurately reads RH, please could you tell me the brand name: I've been hunting for one for two days now and whenever I read product reviews for hygrometers in that price range they end up being either inaccurate or need to be calibrated a lot- and I've not the time or money to constantly be calibrating a cheap hygrometer. If I had that kind of money I'd just buy a good hygrometer that doesn't have to be calibrated a lot...
It is inaccurate to say that hygrometers are "notoriously inaccurate". You may as well say the same of thermometers. Get a digital hygrometer like the Oasis OH-2. No moving parts, so it will not be affected by movement as an analog one would.


Third: I have a humidifier. I'm going to keep the instrument in the case- a good case- and humidify the case. I don't want anything to happen to the KPK either. This whole string of posts has really been me typing up whatever thoughts were currently in my head. For all I know, tomorrow I may feel like I absoutely need to spend 100+ bucks on a good hygrometer (I mean... I should be getting a tax refund in a few weeks...)

That would be throwing your money away, which you say you don't have in the first place.

Tanizaki
12-31-2008, 02:34 PM
A hygrometer is used to measure the humidity level. Most wood instruments should be kept at around 40-70% (I *think*...)

So, if the hygrometer is drifting towards 40% you use a humidifier, if it's in the safe zone (~45-65%) you leave well enough alone, and if it drifts towards 70 you de-humidify.


The humidifier should keep a constant RH appropriate for the instrument. RH is not regulated by swapping the humidifier in and out, but by saturating the humidifier with a solution that maintains the proper RH. By altering the solution, we alter the RH.

HoldinCoffee
12-31-2008, 09:44 PM
Hey everybody, I was just funnin' y'alls. Move to a mountain in Hawaii, carckbaby uke, et al. V, i'm sure you're gonna enjoy your uke and take care of it well. Your vids are stellar and I hope to see more in the future with the pili-koka.

Happy 2009!:nana:

Valerie
01-01-2009, 05:00 AM
lol, awe!!! I was hoping you weren't joking.

I need a good excuse for moving to the Hawaii.

HoldinCoffee
01-01-2009, 01:50 PM
The best resigination letter ever written:

Dear Sirs,

Please consider this my official two weeks notice for voluntary termination of employment. Thank you for this opportunity of employment at your wonderful company, but I have found myself in a precarious environmental situation. The relative humidity and low sea level elevation are becoming maladaptive to my solid wooden ukuleles. January 16th, 2009 will be my last day of work. Please send my last paycheck to:
Holdin Coffee
c/o
The Big Mountain with all the Koa Trees, Hawaii

Valerie
01-01-2009, 02:52 PM
Awesome! I love it.

Plainsong
01-01-2009, 09:48 PM
If I'm at home and can keep an eye on the digital (and accurate, I tested it) hygrogometer, then I'll leave a uke out on a stand, and the rest in their cases. The cases don't usually need humidifiers if the room is ok.

We're leaving for the country later on today, and the ukes not coming with me will certainly be in their cases. I keep the stand as far away as I can from the the heater, but in a small living room in Finland, everywhere but dead center of the room is near the heater. The room humidifier is closer to the heater though, which tends to make it seem more effecient at humidifing the room.

When I said earlier that I had a surface crack in the neck of one my ukes, I meant fretboard of course. It didn't go very deep, and it was patched up like new by a luthier, who said that kind of thing, if you catch it early, is just typical life of the instrument kind of stuff.

freedive135
01-02-2009, 05:39 AM
Humidity???? What's that????

Today it's kind of high here 33% the normal Avg. for Jan. is 29%
I can feel my fingertips cracking!!!!!!