Many guitarists want to know the answer to this question, especially in dry climates where it can be difficult to keep their guitars humidified.
It’s a must to invest in a humidifier for your guitar. Guitars need a minimum of 40% humidity to keep their wood and glue from cracking.
If you live in a dry climate, chances are your guitar isn’t getting the humidity it needs – especially if it is not kept inside or near where you store all your guitars (i.e.: an upright stand).
The good news is that there are many options available for electric guitar humidifiers – from inexpensive DIY solutions to high-end professional systems.
In this article, I’ll take a closer look at what makes a humidifier and how it works, as well as the different types of guitar humidifiers available to you.
First Things First, What Does a Guitar Humidifier Do?
A guitar humidifier keeps your guitar at a healthy humidity level.
A guitar’s strings and neck are composed of wood, which expands when it absorbs moisture from the surrounding air – as much as 30% over its own weight in water!
When the wood dries out, it shrinks back to its normal size. This process can cause the guitar to warp, causing the fretboard and neck to bow upwards or downwards.
When that happens, it can become very difficult for you to play your guitar – if not impossible.
A warped guitar can also damage its tone, intonation (the act of striking all the notes on a string so they sound in tune), and overall playability.
In the long term, a warped guitar can even damage its structural integrity and cause it to completely break down if not repaired properly by an expert luthier.
A humidifier keeps your guitar from drying out – protecting against all of these eventualities as well as other potential problems such as loose tuning pegs or cracked soundboards.
How Do I Use My Guitar Humidifier?
A humidifier works by using distilled water to maintain a specific humidity level.
You can use the built-in hygrometer on most models to ensure that your guitar is maintained at between 40% and 50%.
If you have multiple guitars, you may want to invest in a larger unit capable of handling more than one instrument.
To use your humidifier, simply place it inside the guitar’s case (in a compartment with easy access), or attach it to the outside of an open-style stand.
You may need to refill it more frequently if you live in extremely dry conditions – especially during winter months when humidity levels naturally drop even further.
Do I Really Need a Guitar Humidifier?
Yes, you do. If you reside in a region with little humidity all year, there is some wiggle room, but it’s still advantageous to invest in a humidifier.
You definitely need a humidifier if:
- You live in a dry place. The average humidity is 20% and can go as low as single digits during the winter months. You should keep your guitar inside at all times to protect it from the dryness of these regions. If you don’t, expect cracks and warping – even damage to your instrument’s intonation.
- You have a polished wood guitar – rosewood, maple, ebony, or others that are less dense than spruce or cedar. Polished woods are more susceptible to damage from dryness because of their porous nature.
- If you bought an electric guitar and it came with no humidifier. If it came with a humidifier, you should still consider getting an additional one. Guitar companies don’t always get the humidity right and sometimes the level is too low for your climate or even worse: too high!
If the average humidity is over 40%, your wood probably doesn’t expand and contract to the extent that it needs protection from dryness (though there are exceptions like tropical hardwoods).
If this sounds like your climate, then all you really need to do is keep your guitar in an airtight case when you’re not using it.
If all of this is new to you, invest in a humidifier (see the next section) and protect your beloved guitar with ease!
3 Types of Guitar Humidifiers
There are mainly 3 types of guitar humidifiers used by musicians.
- Case humidifiers. They come in a vast range of sizes and shapes, such as the Oasis Plus Case Humidifier. They’re made to fit snuggly into your guitar case so it can maintain an ideal humidity level while you’re not playing your guitar.
- Hole Humidifiers. Most humidifiers are round and can fit in any soundhole. They’re made to be placed inside your guitar so the moisture they emit will circulate within your ax while you’re playing, ensuring that it’s always at a healthy humidity level.
- Room Humidifiers. Room humidifiers can be a bit trickier to find, but they’re out there. If you have a lot of musical instruments in your home and want to keep all of them at an optimal humidity level without going crazy with different devices for each one, this is the best option for you.
When it comes to choosing the right type of guitar humidifier, it’s really up to your personal style and how much you’re willing to spend.
There are several types of humidifiers that you can use to keep your guitar well-moisturized and all of them will work just fine.
How Much Should You Invest In a Guitar Humidifier?
If you’re just starting out and your budget is limited, go for a case humidifier. They run from $6 to about $30 depending on the brand and material they’re made of (the most common being acrylic).
The one I recommend buying if you want something easy to use that comes with everything needed to install it is the Oasis Plus Case Humidifier. It holds a lot of moisture and doesn’t need to be refilled as often as other brands, but you can find whatever suits your needs best!
Do I Need an Expensive Guitar Humidifier?
No, not at all! In fact, many guitar humidifiers that cost over $100 are the same in terms of moisture delivery as ones that cost less than $30.
That being said, if you want a humidifier for your guitar and have some extra cash to spend on one, go ahead!
But don’t buy something too pricey just because it sounds nicer or looks better.
It’s not necessary at all.
You can find cheap ones just as good as more expensive models!
How Long Do Guitar Humidifiers Last?
Depending on the weather, they should last anywhere from 2 to 6 months. If your climate is extremely dry, they may need to be refilled more often.
If you live in a place where the humidity fluctuates a lot and goes from really low to sometimes high or vice versa, it’s best not to invest too much into one that needs constant refills because it will go through crystals at an accelerated pace.
How often should I re-wet my water-based humidifier?
In areas of the country where it is often dry, cold winters are common, or where the relative humidity stays in the 20 to 35 percent range on a regular basis, re-wetting your humidifier every 5 to 7 days as a general rule is recommended.
What are the best humidity levels for my guitar?
Between 40-50% is ideal. It’s not too dry, but it won’t damage your instrument either.
Are Humidifiers Bad For Guitars?
Dry conditions are definitely harmful to your guitar. This is because they make wood dry out, which causes it to shrink. A humidifier will prevent damage from happening while also preventing cracking that may develop over time due to low humidity.
Can You Over Humidify Your Guitar?
The best way to ensure your guitar is perfectly humidified without damaging it or causing any other harm, you should invest in a device that will monitor and regulate the amount of moisture emitted.
There’s no such thing as over-humidifying if you’re using one! They work great and are very easy to use.