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abu7maid

Posts: 9
Joined: Nov. 3 2012
 

Humidity question(s) 

Hi.

I recently got a new Blanca German Spruce guitar. I was told by its seller to watch the humidity and to keep it at 40-60% optimally I unfortunately live in a wet area where I get a humidity level of 70% indoor (room temperature; 20-25 degrees C). I got it less than a week ago and I'm kind of worried it would start taking effect right away.

A - With that being said, does that humidity level requirement mean it can only be exposed to such values for only a short time or is it a more long term thing? Also, I heard buzzing of the guitar sound as one effect is there any more serious effects?

B - For a solution to this. What should I use? I researched and people say different things. Some people suggest dehumidifiers others suggest silica bags. What I felt was the best was something called Humidipaks by D'Addario, but from what I hear they need to be refilled every few months. What do you guys suggest? Like what are the most convenient and effective ways to keep guitar humidity in check?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 19 2020 15:20:16
 
Tom Blackshear

 

Posts: 2243
Joined: Apr. 15 2008
 

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to abu7maid

quote:

I recently got a new Blanca German Spruce guitar. I was told by its seller to watch the humidity and to keep it at 40-60% optimally I unfortunately live in a wet area where I get a humidity level of 70% indoor (room temperature; 20-25 degrees C).


With this said, follow the recommendations of the person who sold the guitar to you. There are guitar cases that have some humidity control and you can keep the guitar in the case when not in use.

I've built guitars in 40% and they have gone in 20% areas with no damage but this is not a suggestion for optimal use.

The point being that you have relative humidity up to 70%, brings the guitar into a possible situation of cracking when dryer days happen with the weather. It's not so much the wood swelling with high humidity but the fast release of moisture when a dry day happens.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 19 2020 15:50:41
 
abu7maid

Posts: 9
Joined: Nov. 3 2012
 

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to Tom Blackshear

quote:

possible situation of cracking when dryer days happen


Thanks for this point that was very helpful and I didn't know about that.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 19 2020 16:03:01
 
constructordeguitarras

Posts: 1485
Joined: Jan. 29 2012
From: Seattle, Washington, USA

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to abu7maid

I believe that lower humidity would be more of a problem than higher humidity. I haven't had any problems with my guitars in Seattle, WA, USA, where I make them in my workshop at 40% humidity and keep them upstairs where the humidity is frequently 70%.

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Ethan Deutsch
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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 21 2020 1:21:30
 
devilhand

 

Posts: 952
Joined: Oct. 15 2019
 

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to Tom Blackshear

Is this humidity thing only relevant for solid wood guitars?

What If I have a solid top guitar with laminated back and sides? Should I worry about humidity level?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 26 2020 13:17:07
 
Ricardo

Posts: 12957
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to abu7maid

Humidity levels are not an issue by themselves. The problems are when the levels change drastically up or down, and there is not enough time for the guitar to adapt to that change. That’s why it’s recommended to store the guitar in a case rather than expose it to the air. There is a hope the guitar case environment will adjust to outside changes more gradually. If the guitar is always dry it’s fine. Problems come from a acquiring unusual humidity from say a humidifier or weather events, and then it dries out fast from either air conditioning in doors or just taking it outside in cool temperatures. If you live in a very dry environment I don’t suggest a humidifier for the guitar (if it’s in fine condition now without it) because once you do that, you have to ALWAYS monitor it and that might not be practical, especially if you are a gigging guitarist.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 26 2020 18:02:42
 
etta

 

Posts: 313
Joined: Jan. 20 2010
 

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to abu7maid

I have a couple of nomex double tops, and the tops seem almost impervious to changes in humidity. Of course this does not apply to the rest of the guitar, but with added stability in the tops there seems to be more consistency in tone than with conventional tops.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 26 2020 18:09:04
 
ernandez R

Posts: 484
Joined: Mar. 25 2019
From: Alaska USA

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to abu7maid

I went on a end grain hygrometer building kick in the shop last week and built three. It was too cold and too dry to attempt glueing anything together. It gets dry up here in the winter and I also wanted to know how the three woods I build with interact, or rather how each expands and contracts with changing humidity in relation to each other: spruce, bitch, and cottonwood are the local species I build with. I keep one in the house and one in the shop. I posted a couple photos over to the Delcamp Luther’s forum:
https://www.classicalguitardelcamp.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=131729&sid=8c7b9d251bed8b46a28a206a09a3d300

I surprised a little how the humidity changes in our house where I supposed the humidity was stabilized. The outside temp went from -30f to +15f in an evening and the humidity went up accordingly inside in a way I supposed it would not. Too many variables to discuss but a valuable observation regardless.

HR
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 27 2020 22:53:46
 
Tom Blackshear

 

Posts: 2243
Joined: Apr. 15 2008
 

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to etta

quote:

but with added stability in the, (Nomex) tops there seems to be more consistency in tone than with conventional tops. [/quote

................................................................................................

You may have a point to some degree but remember that quality of build has something to say about tonal quality.

Many years ago I did an appraisal for a fellow who owned a 1932 Santos classical guitar.

The guitar had a generous amount of varnish inside to protect it from humidity changes.

I have to admit that the guitar was in perfect condition, no repairs and everything worked perfectly, including the tone quality.

But wood is wood, and it's a living material that changes with the weather. So any drastic weather change will almost assuredly effect a wooden instrument.

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Tom Blackshear Guitar maker
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 28 2020 9:50:22
 
Echi

 

Posts: 932
Joined: Jan. 11 2013
 

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to abu7maid

To varnish the inside is an old trick to reduce the impact of a sudden change of humidity.
Unfortunately while you get a little improvement here, you get also the drawback that the instrument takes longer to open up. I arrived to this conclusion by personal experience and by reading a Cremona booklet..
It looks like Santos as other makers occasionally varnished the inside of those instruments sold in South America (mostly in Buenos Aires).
Again Enrique Garcia and Simplicio used to do the same and later on Fleta followed up.
Fleta is the main evidence that to varnish the inside doesn’t work that well though.
In fact one of the main reasons Segovia picked Ramirez instead of Fleta is that Ramirez are made in a humidity controlled environment while Barcelona is a city very humid and the Fleta guitars used to be very problematic in tour.
A big issue for a touring concert player like Segovia.
The early Romanillos guitars (built in a bungalow in the English countryside) used to have the same problem (it’s well known that the guitar ofBream had the back replaced four times, one by Hauser).

Today many makers built in a controlled environment, mostly at around 40% hr.

Anyway it sounds like the double tops (or any laminated top) are in fact more stable than a solid top as Etta points out.

Etta, btw, you should post some pictures of your beloved Canin guitars.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 29 2020 7:59:41
 
Tom Blackshear

 

Posts: 2243
Joined: Apr. 15 2008
 

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to Echi

The Santos guitars got around for sure. One built for a house in South America was loaned to me to copy and build for Robert Guthrie in Dallas Texas.

It was a 1917 classical guitar with no varnish inside. I copied it in the 1980's and built two, one spruce top, which Robert rejected, and the second one with a cedar top which he loved and played concerts and recorded with for about 8-9 years.

This guitar was definitely built for a house in South America but had no varnish inside.

BTW the 1932 guitar was built for Tito Guizar, a famous Mexico movie star who lived in San Antonio Texas for some time, as well as traveled in South America and other places in the world. The label read Santos Hernandez, Madrid.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 29 2020 14:51:30
 
Echi

 

Posts: 932
Joined: Jan. 11 2013
 

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to abu7maid

Yes, it's what I wrote.
quote:

It looks like Santos as other makers occasionally varnished the inside of those instruments sold in South America

First time I saw an instrument varnished on the inside it was a Terada guitar; the dealer agreed this would have slowed down the guitar to open up.
Later on I inspected a Simplicio and noticed the shellac underneath the top, even though it was almost completely absorbed by the wood with the years.
A quite famous restorer told me the story about Santos.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 29 2020 19:19:12
 
Tom Blackshear

 

Posts: 2243
Joined: Apr. 15 2008
 

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to Echi

The guitar that I made for Guthrie was treated with a slight water proofing inside the top with one to eleven parts shellac and alcohol. It didn't seem to alter the tone.

This recording was recorded at SMU but the person that put it on you tube had not idea what guitar was used. I happen to know the guitar was mine as I know its sound.

https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=tightropetb&p=robert+guthrie+classical+guitar+recording+you+tube+with+unknown+guitar#id=1&vid=f5534f18e9bc1ede8c24333c9790fae2&action=click

BTW, the guitar is still being played by a new owner in McKinney, Texas. And the picture on you tube is not of that guitar

You should be able to hear some of the same temperament in this guitar, although a very different model.

https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=tightropetb&p=chaconne+Klavarenga+Blackshear+guitar+you+tube#id=4&vid=35a5a586539ed20895d602a1d1a22646&action=view

Both guitars were treated with shellac inside the tops.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jan. 29 2020 20:25:39
 
Filip

 

Posts: 284
Joined: Apr. 23 2006
From: Paris

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to abu7maid

I learnt on this foro after reading several threads that the most important thing to avoid is fast change in humidity. Being somewhat of a freak in the absence of quantitative data, I am now thinking what should I do with my guitar when the AC is on.

I have a humidipack in my guitar case which keeps the humidity steady at around 55% inside the case. The humidity in my room is normally 55-60%, so far so good, but during the day it gets really hot so I need to turn the AC on, which lowers the humidity to around 40% (sometimes as low as 35%), and fast. So my question is this: do you think I could damage my guitar if I pull it out from 55% to say 40% to play for an hour or so every day?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 31 2021 17:06:09
 
gerundino63

Posts: 1612
Joined: Jul. 11 2003
From: The Netherlands

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to Filip

No, in winter I do that all the time. Even from 60% to 34% but not all day. Only for 1.5 hour or less

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 31 2021 21:16:00
 
devilhand

 

Posts: 952
Joined: Oct. 15 2019
 

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to Filip

quote:

I learnt on this foro after reading several threads that the most important thing to avoid is fast change in humidity.

Yes. I don't know why there's still no double top flamenco guitars nowadays.

quote:

but during the day it gets really hot so I need to turn the AC on, which lowers the humidity to around 40%

You can cool your room without AC. If you put ice cold water in front of your fan, it will cool your room. Not sure if it reduces humidity. But it's worth a try.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 31 2021 23:57:32
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3122
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to Echi

quote:

The early Romanillos guitars (built in a bungalow in the English countryside) used to have the same problem (it’s well known that the guitar ofBream had the back replaced four times, one by Hauser).


The label in Romanillos #407 from 1973 says "Fontmell Magna," a village in Dorset, about 8 miles from Semley, Wiltshire where Bream's country house was. Bream's #501 was hanging on the wall of the Fontmell Magna shop when he and John Williams went there to have the machines replaced on Williams's Fleta. It was there that Bream offered to buy #501.

Romaillos began his professional career as a luthier in a cowshed on Bream's estate, later moving to Fontmell Magna.

Spruce/Indian #407 was shipped from Kansas to the Marshall Islands in the Central Pacific in 2000. It arrived in a good plywood case. It lived there in 66% indoor humidity for 9 years before being shipped to Austin, Tx, where the indoor humidity has ranged from 37% to about 50% until now. When not played it has been in a Mark Leaf case since 2000. This case is the most airtight I have experienced among various "airtight" models.

I don't know where #407 was before 2000. The dealer I bought it from lived, concertized and taught in Germany for several years. He played Romanillos instruments exclusively. He made regular trips to Europe to find instruments. He told me #407 hadn't been played for a number of years previous to 2000. It took a couple of weeks to open up after I received it on approval.

#407 has certainly not experienced the numerous rapid changes in environment which #501 did, but it shows no ill effects of age and varied environments.

When I saw #501 in the late 1970s it already looked like it had been "rode hard and put up wet." It had no visible cracks, but the finish was well worn and the top had a number of fingernail dings. Bream kept his nails long.

The original Brazilian rosewood back of #501 was re-sawn from the top of a table that Romanillos found at an auction. It was hard to find guitar wood in England in 1973. The tops of both #407 and #501 are from re-sawn 'cello billets.

The fourth back replacement for #501 was done by Hauser II because he was known to have a stock of well seasoned Brazilian rosewood. Despite its problems Bream called it, "The best guitar I ever had."

RNJ

#407 is the 7th of the 4th design series. It is "modeled on" a 1950 Hauser. #501 is the first of the 5th series, made from a drawing of a 1930s Hauser owned by Sergio Abreu. It has more dome to the top, and two fan braces extend under the lower harmonic bar. A well known luthier opined that #407 may be the one just before #501. I have never written to Romanillos to ask. I suppose I should....
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 1 2021 1:45:07
 
Filip

 

Posts: 284
Joined: Apr. 23 2006
From: Paris

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to abu7maid

Thanks for the response guys.

I've also spoken with a couple of luthier friends (my guitar was built in the workshop of one of them), and they said that playing is fine as long as the guitar stays in the case at all other times. All your opinions make me calm to continue playing.

Cheers
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 1 2021 14:15:49
 
estebanana

Posts: 8324
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to Richard Jernigan

quote:

e fourth back replacement for #501 was done by Hauser II because he was known to have a stock of well seasoned Brazilian rosewood. Despite its problems Bream called it, "The best guitar I ever had."


Are you saying the 501 had the back replaced 4 times?

Interesting and confirms the idea that it’s the neck and top that define authenticity, everything else is replaceable.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 1 2021 15:02:27
 
Echi

 

Posts: 932
Joined: Jan. 11 2013
 

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to abu7maid

Yep.
Kevin Aram wrote in American Lutherie the story or the famous Romanillos used by Bream for many years.
Back replaced 4 times (one by Hauser III) and even the 3 central struts of the fan replaced by Romanillos with taller ones after some years.
Romanillos himself explained his workshop in those years used to be quite wet and probably the guitar was assembled at high HR. As Richard said, Romanillos tried to savage the Brazilian Rosewood for back and sides, which means the cut was not ideal also.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 1 2021 15:36:48
 
ernandez R

Posts: 484
Joined: Mar. 25 2019
From: Alaska USA

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to abu7maid

Oops

Cut and paste failure

One has to wonder if the experienced attentive luthier could replace any part, including a top, of a master built instrument by paying close attention to wood properties and size without fundamentally changing the character of said instrument?

O/T (on topic :)
I recently purchased a dehumidifier for my workshop suitable for a 2000 sq/ft room that is keeping my shop at 45/50 % without breaking a sweat ;) Seems like a playing room could use a much smaller unit. The hum of the fan motor is a buzz kill but unless I'm playing in the shop I've got some kind of hearing protection and the stereo turned up.

Seems like a rapid extended de-humidification is to be avoided at all costs and having the instrument in a case should protect from that kind of event. For those with a simple case a large plastic bag ( hesatent to use the word garbage ) tied off with a rubber band or hair tie would protect from both rising and falling humidity.

HR

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I prefer my flamenco guitar spicy,
doesn't have to be fast,
should have some meat on the bones,
can be raw or well done,
as long as it doesn't sound like it's turning green on an elevator floor.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 1 2021 21:15:33
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3122
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to estebanana

quote:

ORIGINAL: estebanana

quote:

e fourth back replacement for #501 was done by Hauser II because he was known to have a stock of well seasoned Brazilian rosewood. Despite its problems Bream called it, "The best guitar I ever had."


Are you saying the 501 had the back replaced 4 times?

Interesting and confirms the idea that it’s the neck and top that define authenticity, everything else is replaceable.


Yes. I asked Richard Brune to appraise #407. When I decided to buy it he sent me a copy of Aram's piece which Echi refers to.

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 3 2021 1:08:05
 
Ricardo

Posts: 12957
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to Richard Jernigan

Is that the guitar used in la Guitarra series you guys are talking about?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 3 2021 20:34:49
 
Richard Jernigan

Posts: 3122
Joined: Jan. 20 2004
From: Austin, Texas USA

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to Ricardo

All the instruments in the movie "¡Guitarra! A Musical Journey Through Spain," and the LP "¡Guitarra! The Guitar in Spain" were made by Romanillos. The modern six-string guitar was #501.

The CD "La Guitarra Romantica" features Romanillos' #501 and Kevin Aram's "Myrtle."

RNJ
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 4 2021 5:58:45
 
Echi

 

Posts: 932
Joined: Jan. 11 2013
 

RE: Humidity question(s) (in reply to abu7maid

As Richard said few posts above, Romanillos used to have a strange way to number his early guitars.
We are speaking of the years when Bream took care to launch Jose’s career, providing him the shop in Dorset, putting him in contact with fellow musicians and letting him inspect and restore his many Hauser guitars.
The guidance of Bream has been really a key point for Jose’.
In this case 4-07 means the the 7th guitar made by Romanillos after a plantilla and bracing of a certain Hauser (in this case from the fifties) while the following guitar made by Romanillos is the famous 5-01, made after a plan of an earlier Hauser I guitar drawn by Sergio Abreu. It’s not an exact copy of the Hauser as Romanillos added a top doming perpendicularly and had to go following his feelings.
That 501 guitar will be the guitar used by Bream throughout many years of his career and which he favoured for 20 years.
In fact it was a light guitar (maybe too light) being also the copy of a guitar made by Hauser at the beginning of his Spanish period, when he was influenced by the Torres of Llobet. From 1940 Hauser I will add some more doming and then work with thicker plates.
Romanillos later on will keep the same 501 bracing with progressive small modifications throughout all his career.
In the last part of his career Bream fell in love with a 40 Hauser owned by Rose Augustine of which he will commission copies to the main makers of England, in order to enstablish a solid model and guideline of Hauser-English style of guitar making.

The early guitars made by Romanillos are more routed in Hauser I than his later production.
I for one (as many Bream lovers) find the early Romanillos (as the Hauser I guitars from 1930 to 1940) the most interesting guitars to play while some concert players may prefer the Romanillos from the eighties on, where he raised the main box frequence in order to get stronger trebles.
Anyway, Richard has a piece of the history of lutherie.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 4 2021 8:45:22
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