If you live in a dry area where the humidity tends to get very low, you may wonder if there’s a need to humidify your electric guitar.
Acoustics do need regular humidification, but do electric guitars need it too?
There’s been a big debate going on about it. Strong opinions from both sides gave me hard time to find out the definite answer, but I took my time. Here’s the deal.
Do electric guitars need to be humidified?
Yes, although not as much as acoustic guitars do. Also, it takes a slightly different approach to humidify an electric guitar, because of electronics presence in the guitar body. That’s mainly because of guitar pickups.
Are Electric Guitars Affected By Humidity?
Electric guitars can easily get affected by humidity. Low humidity can cause guitar neck to shrink. When that happens, fret ends protrude from the edge of the fretboard to the outside.
Not only that happens, but also frets can get loose, as well as the screws.
Why does this happen? It’s simple physics. In the environments with cold winters where households use various heating devices frequently, humidity often gets low.
That particular situation is causing a wood to shrink faster than other materials. Steel parts of the guitars, such as frets, tuner screws and so on, do not shrink.
These parts do not follow the same physical changes as wood do, so that’s the moment where problems start to arise.
Why Humidity Is Bad For Guitars?
Everything that’s affecting the body of your guitar is bad for the guitar itself. Obviously, you don’t want any shape change. In that situation, it is often uncomfortable to play, as the frets length exceeds the fretboard width.
Low humidity also affects the playability of your guitar, and the tone as well.
Guitar headstock can often crack if the guitar is left in the dry room for some period of time.
What Humidity Is Bad For Guitars?
Both low and high humidity is equally bad for a guitar. Ideal humidity should be in range between 40 % – 50 %.
It’s not only good for a guitar, but it’s healthier for you, too. Actually, what’s healthy and best for you is at the same time best for your guitar, also.
Do You Need Humidifier For An Electric Guitar?
You can use humidifier for your electric guitar, although not in the same way in comparison with acoustics.
As it’s been said at the beginning, humidification of an electric guitar requires taking a slightly different approach. To humidify an acoustic guitar is easy, because acoustic guitars have sound holes in which you put various humidifiers.
Electric guitars, however, do not have sound holes. To keep your electric guitar’s humidity level constant, you should store your guitar in a case.
When the guitar is put in the case, put the humidifier in the case also.
There are numerous humidifiers out there, but I found out that the Music Nomad Humidity Care System from Amazon is one of the best.
It is great because the sponge do not drip any water on the floor, and it’s reusable and long lasting.
Also, you get a digital hygrometer with which you can check the humidity level in the case every 20 seconds.
This humidifier is very simple to handle. Just take the sponge and swish it in a distilled water for a few seconds. After that, just put it in a holder, seal it and put it all in a case, along with your guitar.
This comes particularly handy if you live in the dry areas, as it will maintain your electric guitar’s humidity at the right level.
How Often Should You Use A Guitar Humidifier?
It depends on where you live. If you live in an area with harsh winters, then you need to use it more frequently.
If you live in an area that has a moderate humidity level throughout the whole year, then perhaps you don’t need to humidify your guitar at all.
It all depends on the humidity level of your environment. Remember, 40 % to 50 % humidity level is best.
Store your electric guitar. That’s the best way to prevent any potential harms caused by bad humidity level around. If you’re particularly concerned about it, get yourself one digital hygrometer so you can always be sure the humidity level is satisfactory.
Can You Over Humidify A Guitar?
Yes, you definitely can over humidify your electric guitar.
What are the signs your guitar is over humidified?
Well, if the room your guitar is in has a high level of humidity, your guitar may start to sound different – meaning overall worse than before.
When over humidification kicks in, you may notice the mold collecting on your guitar’s fretboard. Molds love humidity!
Think of your guitar’s body as a sponge that absorbs moisture from air. If you leave a humidifier in a case, along with your guitar, for too long, then the wood from your guitar may absorb a lot more humidity than necessary.
At the beginning of the article, we’ve talked about what happens when the humidity is too low. The wood shrinks. When humidity is too high, or when you over humidify your guitar, the wood expands.
All of these changes affect your guitar’s geometry, which will consequently affect the sound.
One more thing you’ll need to keep in mind:
Do not humidify your guitar in the summer, when it’s too hot and the humidity is high. ACs can do a decent job of lowering a humidity in your environment.
Humidifying your guitar in the summer means bringing more unnecessary humidity to your guitar’s body, when the environment is already enough humidified. That’s another common situation when one can over humidify his electric guitar.
Will Leaving A Guitar In The Cold Ruin It?
If you live in an area where winters are cold, you probably use a lot of heating devices to keep your indoor rooms comfortable.
You may be tempted to leave your guitar outside, for example, on the balcony to prevent it from drying out. Don’t do it!
Remember, if you’re not comfortable to be outside in the cold, neither is your guitar.
What Temperature Is Ideal For A Guitar?
An average room temperature is the best for a guitar. Don’t leave your guitar near heating devices or open windows.
Don’t leave it in the room that has big temperature changes. Sudden temperature rises and falls affects the materials heavily. Sudden rise in a temperature is causing every material to expand.
Every material has its own characteristic heat capacity. What does that mean? It means that when temperature rise for, let’s say 10 degrees, some materials will expand more than the others.
In this case, steel parts may expand faster than wood. That can easily cause metal frets loose from the wood.
The same is the other way around, with sudden temperature drops.
Does A Guitar Case Really Protect From Humidity?
It’s been described already in this article how to use humidifier on your electric guitar. Just put the humidifier in a guitar case.
But does a guitar case alone protect your guitar from humidity? Well, it depends on what kind of a case we’re talking about.
Hard cases are best cases when it comes to humidity. They are, in comparison with soft cases, much more immune to temperature and humidity changes from the outside.
Also, hard cases provide much better protection against potential physical damage.
I found out this nice hard case. Glarry Electric Guitar Hard Case from Amazon.
It has large interior storage compartment for accessories. That’s practical because you can put additional accessories all in one place.
It weighs 6.98 pounds which makes it lighter than many other rectangular sized hard cases.
Keep Your Eye On A Humidity Level
The crucial thing about humidifying your guitar is to constantly watch for a humidity level in your room.
This is extremely important if you live in the areas with either too low or too high relative humidity.
Anyway, I hope this article gave you some insight about this subject. If it helped you in any way, I’m more than happy about it.
Don’t forget to check out some other interesting articles I wrote on this site!
Cheers, and rock on!