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Moore Bettah Ukuleles
01-22-2014, 03:07 PM
We're in the middle of winter, a time when many instruments are exposed to harsh, or at least less than ideal, conditions. Most of you know, as consumers, the need to watch your relative humidity, but what are you watching for if you don't know under what conditions your uke was built?
At the risk of beating this Humidity Horse to death, I thought you'd enjoy this peek into what a builder considers when building your uke. Although O'Brien guitars is in Colorado where it can get very dry, it's interesting to note that we in Hawaii have the opposite problem of too much humidity, but the concept is the same.

v=J5PkfgCm3x8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5PkfgCm3x8

DaveY
01-22-2014, 05:55 PM
This was interesting, especially the part of customizing the humidity for the buyer. . . . and I have a few questions: (1) Is it common for a builder to customize the building and storage conditions for the buyer's region's humidity? (2) And when this builder talks about the humidity of a region, is he making assumptions that the place where the instrument would spend most of its time (the instrument owner's home) would be the same for everyone in the region? For example, I live in Massachusetts, which probably is considered on the dry side, at least in the winter. But the temperature in our house is in the low to (maybe) mid-60s in the winter (I like/need it that way), and the humidity in the room with the ukuleles has never gone below 40, and usually is in the mid- to upper 40s (or even low 50s) in the winter.

Put another way, should someone having a ukulele or guitar custom-made tell the builder about the exact humidity conditions where the buyer lives?

ALing
01-22-2014, 10:08 PM
The builder of my custom-made guitar checked my area's humidity conditions before building.

Skinny Money McGee
01-23-2014, 02:39 AM
I bought a Martin guitar in Wyoming in 1980, moved to So. California for 18 years, moved to Virginia for 15, then moved to Michigan.. 3 Climates from desert, to hot humid summers, to freezing sub zero winters. Never knew anything about humidifying an instrument. The guitar is still in perfect condition.

Maybe I lucked out with the guitar, but I'm much more careful with the ukes. Installed a whole house humidifier for the winter. Never gets below 38% inside the house. Stays mostly at 40%.

Cornfield
01-23-2014, 03:05 AM
We are mid-winter in Illinois. 6 degrees outside and the house heated to 70. With a whole house humidifier the house is at 27% RH today. All of my solid wood instruments have case sponge based planet waves humidifiers that I refill weekly. They never get dry.
This summer I purchased a 1928 Martin tenor guitar that was in pretty bad shape. It came out of Florida but I believe the seller had gotten it from a western desert climate. The neck was way off so it spent several months at a top luthier I know for a reset. I got it back at the end of December. It is in an original Steib case that is not in too bad of shape. In the Martin case, I keep an oasis in the sound hole, another oasis by the head and a planet waves under the neck. I need to refill the oasis filters 2-3 times a week.
Am I over humidifying this? Am I over concerned?

BTW: I took the guitar to Gruhns in Nashville and the fellow there thought the luthier, Cremer Guitarworks in North Aurora, IL, did a very good job on the neck reset.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
01-23-2014, 06:13 AM
Put another way, should someone having a ukulele or guitar custom-made tell the builder about the exact humidity conditions where the buyer lives?

I think it's impractical and unrealistic for a builder to build precisely for a customer's environment for the reasons stated above; instruments, especially ukuleles, simply travel too much. And they often get bought and sold like baseball cards. I build for the average conditions (45% RH in my building room) but I will take extra precautions if I know an uke will be spending most of it's time in Arizona for example. My hope is showing this video is so that people would want to know under what conditions their uke was built so that they could try to match those conditions at home. (I'm thinking of of imports with this backwards thinking.)

Steedy
01-23-2014, 06:27 AM
In my office at work today, the humidity is so low it won't even register. The display on my hygrometer shows --%.

Humidity in my house has been around 15% the past few days, but my ukes are snug in their cases, with Oasis humidifiers keeping it around 40% for each one.

The dry air is harder on my lips and my hands than it is on my ukes. :)

BlackBearUkes
01-23-2014, 03:58 PM
For those who work on a commission basis, konwing where the uke will live can be helpful, but only until it moves on to another owner, which could be anywhere on the planet. I normally don't work on a commission basis, and even when and if I did, it wouldn't change how I would build. First, the wood has to be well seasoned, quartered and have a moisture content of 6%. The wood must live in a stable environment during that time is it curing and I always shoot for a humidity level of 42% in my shop year round. Follow these basic and simple rules and you shouldn't have any problems, as long as the weather isn't extreme.

Dan Uke
01-23-2014, 06:12 PM
I don't think I'm too interested in buying a uke from someone who builds from their garage.

Cornfield
01-24-2014, 01:44 AM
I don't think I'm too interested in buying a uke from someone who builds from their garage.

Apple computer started in a garage. A lot of businesses started there. I imagine a lot of luthiers started small too.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
01-24-2014, 05:04 AM
I don't think I'm too interested in buying a uke from someone who builds from their garage.

You'd be missing out on a lot of great stuff. (I wish I had a garage!)

didgeridoo2
01-24-2014, 06:40 AM
I don't think I'm too interested in buying a uke from someone who builds from their garage.
Eric Devine builds in his garage turned workshop...

Dan Uke
01-24-2014, 06:44 AM
Eric Devine builds in his garage turned workshop...

What I meant if it's not temperature and humidity controlled. If ED parks his car in it, I can't imagine it being temperature or humidity controlled. hahaha

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
01-24-2014, 07:22 AM
What I meant if it's not temperature and humidity controlled. If ED parks his car in it, I can't imagine it being temperature or humidity controlled. hahaha

I know what you mean Daniel, I just think you mis spoke. I know people who have professional shops located in a bedroom of a house, others work in a huge warehouse. Either of these may or not be climate controlled. It's not the space, it's what you do with it. Many garage builders will build a little room in a corner and use that as their climate controlled build room and also keep wood in it. IMO, a large garage is ideal for a one man shop because of the large doors that allow for plenty of ventilation and light. One part is the "dirty" room where lost of sawdust is made, another part is the "clean" building room.

BTW, a garage is much too valuable as a working space to park cars in!

hawaii 50
01-24-2014, 05:30 PM
I know what you mean Daniel, I just think you mis spoke. I know people who have professional shops located in a bedroom of a house, others work in a huge warehouse. Either of these may or not be climate controlled. It's not the space, it's what you do with it. Many garage builders will build a little room in a corner and use that as their climate controlled build room and also keep wood in it. IMO, a large garage is ideal for a one man shop because of the large doors that allow for plenty of ventilation and light. One part is the "dirty" room where lost of sawdust is made, another part is the "clean" building room.

BTW, a garage is much too valuable as a working space to park cars in!

Hey Chuck..I went to visit Rollo S. in Kailua and you have described his build room in the back of his garage to the T...he cuts his wood in the garage,and stores all of his logs there too....and he keeps the garage door opened just like you said...wow, have you been there?

Btw his cars were in the driveway...

he keeps his sawn wood in a smaller room in the building area....nice guy and he about our age too:)

did you know he was a Roadie for REO Speedwagon in the day...he has the Gold/Platinum records to prove it...wow!