"Is your guitar losing it voice, buzzing, cracking?
Give your guitar a drink!"
By James Wall
What happens to guitars that are exposed to a dry climate?
We've all picked up a guitar where the strings are too close to the fretboard and have a buzzing sound when fretting. While this may be due to a neck or a truss rod that is out of alignment, there is one thing that is commonly overlooked, Relative Humidity. Guitars that are made out of solid would are very reactive to their environment, if the humidity deviates greatly from the humidity that it was manufactured the playability of the guitar can be affected.
Common symptoms include sharp edges on the fretboard making it uncomfortable to play, cracks in the finger board, loose glue joints resulting in buzzes or worse cracks in the guitar.
A simple way to determine if you have dry guitar is by looking for a slight depression in the soundboard behind the saddle. If you find this has occurred, the strings will be closer to the neck, often too close to the neck. While you can compensate with a truss rod adjustment or raising the bridge you would be masking the real problem of your guitar drying out. Glue joints will eventually weaken and you will likely need some expensive and intrusive repairs to restore your guitar to its top condition.
What is the ideal humidity for my acoustic guitar?
In general, the ideal humidity level for your acoustic guitar should be between 45-55 percent relative humidity. Most susceptible are “solid wood” or “all wood” acoustic guitars that can be especially sensitive to humidity levels.
Great! you say. I live in an area that typically is within the ideal range so I don't need to worry about the effects of low humidity with my guitar.
Well maybe...however you still need to consider the effects of air conditioning and heating in your home. When you run the heater during cooler months it will dry out the air in your home. Conversely in the summer months if you run an air conditioner it will pull moisture out of the air lowering your homes relative humidity level. Both of these scenarios will a “dry” guitar left unchecked.
How can I tell if my guitar is dried out?
As mentioned earlier the most common signal is to look at the bout of your guitar just behind the saddle. If it has a slight depression that is an early sign your guitar is suffering from symptoms of drying out.
Other symptoms maybe a ‘hump’ on the 12th fret of the fretboard as you look down the length of the neck. If you can feel the sharp edges of your frets, this is also can be a sign of a fingerboard that has dried out and shrunk causing the metal frets to extend slightly beyond the edge of the fingerboard.
Other less obvious symptoms are loose bracing in the body which can affect the tone of your guitar or worse lead to cracks. If your guitar is this dry and bracing is becoming loose, you will want to have a reputable luthier look at it before any cracks start.
Can a dried out guitar be fixed?
Yes! You can have a reputable luthier fix most damage including cracks. Just keep in mind the additional glue and cleats may have an effect tone. Unfortunately this is really your only reasonable action if your guitar has reached the point where it is cracking or braces are coming loose.
The best option is to give your guitar the moisture it needs, BEFORE it gets to that state. These humidification options are intended to prevent damage, none of these products will repair a guitar damaged because it was allowed to get to dry.
How Can I tell what the Relative Humidity is where I store my guitar?
One of the best ways to determine if you have a potential problem is to actually measure the relative humidity in the room you store your guitar or in the case itself.
Digital Hygrometer’s are relatively inexpensive devices that allow you to easily keep tabs on the humidity levels in the room you store your acoustic instruments.
There are also sophisticated models that will use Bluetooth or WiFi to notify you via your smart phone that the humidity level in the room is out of your set range and that it needs your attention.
How can I Humidify my Acoustic Guitar?
There are quite a few options out there for keeping your guitar humidified. And which one you chose will depend on several factors. But first let’s look at what humidification options are available.
Sound Hole Humidifiers
These are a great option if you are looking to humidify your guitar on a budget.
The most common setup is a sponge or some other material that you can soak with water and are to are stored in a plastic container that you can between the G and D string while the ventilated container is suspended in the sound hole allowing the moisture to permeate throughout the interior body of the guitar.
The next most common setup is similar, but the device that holds the moistened material is attached to a plate that covers the sound hole. The advantage of this system is that it keeps the humidity in the body of the guitar and doesn’t waste it by letting it evaporate into the room as well. It should be noted that if you’re storing it in a case you may not want the sound hole covered as you would want the whole guitar to humidify.
Manufacturers have come up with packets that both release and absorb moisture when placed in the guitar case with the guitar. Depending on the pack you get they can go in the sound hole, in the space behind the headstock or both. These are no mess solutions; you just pop them in and let them do the work until they dry out. Then replace with a new packet. Since humidipak’s also come with a sleeve that can hold the packets in the sound hole, they are technically a sound hole humidifier as well.
Room or Whole House Humidifiers
Ok it is no secret that guitar players love to collect guitars. So it is just a matter of time before you realize it is just not practical to keep moistening sponges and checking on each individual guitar. For example I have roughly 20 acoustic guitars in my collection now and it is just too much work for me to keep track of each guitar. Or maybe I am just lazy…
My point here is that eventually you may want to consider humidifying the room you store your guitars in or if you have them on stands throughout the house you may even want to humidify your home.
Best Guitar Humidifiers Available on the Market
Comparison of Sound Hole Guitar Humidifiers
Sound hole humidifiers are the perfect economical solution if you have just a couple of guitars, or if you live in an arid environment where you want extra protection against your guitar drying out. The table above details our favorites in this category. There are many different vendors and they are all similar, however we found these models we’ve highlighted seemed to either work better or provided the best value for similar performance.
These models are an economical way to protect your Martin, Taylor, Eastman or other fine guitars.
D'Addario Humidipak Automatic Humidity Control System
- HUMIDIFICATION SYSTEM: D'Addario Humidipak is the only maintenance-free, two-way humidity control system for guitar. Includes pouches and guitar humidifier packs.
- PROTECT YOUR GUITAR: Protects your instrument against warping, cracks and other damage cause by lack of humidification.
- TWO WAY HUMIDITY CONTROL: The first two-way humidity control that maintains a constant 45%-50% relative humidity level within your instruments case
- AUTOMATIC HUMIDIFIER: It automatically maintains the optimal 45%-50% relative humidity level within your instrument case, eliminating the guesswork and potential mess related to refilling a humidifier.
- AUTOMATIC ADJUSTMENTS: No more manual adjustments based on seasonal changes, geographic locations, temperature, or other factors unlike refillable humidifiers.
While the Humidipak Automatic solution carries a higher price tag than the other options we review, it has two key strengths. First it has the ability work both as a humidifier and dehumidifier keeping the humidity in the guitar case around 40-45% humidity. Second, you don’t have to mess with water you simply put the pack in the pouch and let it do the work.
It should be noted that while the packs do absorb water vapor they are not intended to reduce the level of humidity in a highly humid environment.
D’Addario offers several options when it comes to humidipak solutions. If your guitar is relatively dry and in significant need of moisture you should start out with the Restore version. If you’re guitar is relatively close to the optimal RH you should use the Maintain version of the product.
If you don’t want to mess with water this is an excellent choice to humidify your guitar.
How long do the D’Addario Humidipaks last?
Typically 2-4 months. When the packets become hard it is time to change them out.
How does the D’Addario Humidipak work?
Be developing a vapor-permeable membrane packet vapor is able to move both directions allowing the RH to stabilize at 45% to 55%. The solution inside the packet is a formula of salt water and a gel solution that can retain water. The vapor-permeable membrane only allows pure water vapor to pass blocking the salt and gel.
How do I use the D’Addario Humidipak System?
There are two components to the product.
- Humidipak packets
- Soft pouches to hold the packets
a) 1 pouch with two pockets to place over the strings at the sound hole
b) 1 pouch with one pocket to place below the headstock in the case
After placing the packets in the pouches, hang the two packet pouch over the strings and into the sound hole. Place the second pouch behind the headstock of your guitar in the case.
From there the two-way design will release humidity into the air or absorb humidity from the air as needed automatically within the sealed environment of the guitar case.
D'Addario Acoustic Guitar Humidifier
- PROTECTS GUITARS - Protects your guitar giving humidification during dry seasons.
- FOR SOUNDHOLES - Designed to fit acoustic guitar soundholes and maintain humidity inside the guitar.
- NEVER TOUCHES GUITAR - Suspended by the strings, never touches the guitar body.
- NON DRIP - Exclusive non-drip design releases moisture evenly and slowly.
- D’ADDARIO ACCESSORIES - For over 20 years, D’Addario Accessories (formerly Planet Waves) has been leading the industry in innovative and problem-solving products that serve musicians worldwide.
A much simpler option for guitar humidification is plastic vessel that holds a dampened sponge. The container has holes in the side to allow water vapor to pass into the guitar body. The plastic container has slots at the top that allow you to use the guitar strings to hold the device in place in the sound hole.
This is both a cost effective and highly efficient method to keep your guitar humidified. You can have the device in place when your guitar is in its case and out.
The down side of the type of guitar humidifier is that you have to keep the sponge moist. If you live in a relatively dry climate, it can be a bit of a pain to keep up. Also because you are dealing with water, if you aren’t careful and overload the sponge you can sometimes get water leakage inside the guitar body.
Oasis OH1 Guitar Humidifier with OH-2 Digital Hygrometer
- Oasis OH-1 Original Guitar Humidifier
- You can see when Oasis is ready for refill
- Long lasting humidification
- Won't leak due to overfilling
- By watching the Oasis shrink, you can determine when it is ready for refill
The Oasis Guitar Humidifier works in a similar fashion to the sponge models we like, but they have the added protection of the humigel crystals in the container.
There are a couple of Oasis Guitar Humidifiers. The original OH-1 model works well for normal environments. If you live in a location where the air is extremely arid you would want to use the OH-5 model which releases 50% more water vapor. If you don’t want to keep the device in your guitars sound hole the OH-6 model comes with a clip and it can be used inside your guitar case.
Table of Oasis choices:
|Oasis OH-1 Humidifier for acoustic guitars||924 Reviews||$21.73||View on Amazon|
|Oasis OH-4 Humigel Replacement Kit||396 Reviews||View on Amazon|
|O Oasis OH-5 Humidifier for Acoustic Guitars||827 Reviews||$21.95||View on Amazon|
|O Oasis Humidifier for Acoustic Guitars (OH-6)||561 Reviews||$21.95||View on Amazon|
|Oasis OH-2 Digital Hygrometer w/clip||266 Reviews||$31.90||View on Amazon|
How does the Oasis Guitar Humidifier work?
The tube is pre loaded with .6 cc’s of the Humigel crystals. When you add water to the tube, the crystals will absorb 400 times their weight in water and transform the water in the tube to gel. The advantage of this is you won’t get water leakage in your guitar if the tube becomes damaged. Instead you’ll visually see spots or stains on the tube and know you need to replace it. As the water evaporates the crystals become solid and you add more water.
This is a great option if you want have the flexibility and simplicity of the sponge humidifiers without the water damage concerns.
Dampit Guitar Humidifier Super
- The ORIGINAL Dampit, Not An imitation!
- For Large Guitar
- Humidifies - Protects
- Made Of The Finest Materials - Long-Lasting - Easy To Use
- Dampits Have Been Protecting Wood Instruments Since 1966
When I bought my first guitar in the upper California desert I was told about the importance of keeping the guitar humidified. At the time the Dampit humidifier was the most popular in the market. Times have changed and technologies have improved so this may not be the absolute best option out there, but it is still highly effective.
It comes with a sound hole cover that has a string that is attached to the rubber tube with a long sponge in it. The one advantage of the Dampit Guitar Humidifier is that if you want to keep your guitar out of its case the sound hole cover keeps the humidity in the body of the guitar. I’ll also add this doesn’t do much to keep the fret board and other components external to the body interior humidified.
One other potential drawback of the Dampit model (martin has a similar model) is that because the tube is laying on the body of the guitar you need to be sure you squeezed out excess water and dried the exterior before putting it in your guitar.
I still own 3 of these and they continue to do a great job and are a nice option for keeping your axe hydrated.
Guitto GHD-01 2-in-1 Humidity Care System
- Patent Design, Innovative 2-in-1 design with a precise indicating needle humidiometer, environmental protection, no battery
- Real-time, Humidification and testing are performed simultaneously, Tips: The humidity of the guitar cavity is recommended to be kept below 70%
- Safety, The Humidifier eliminate potential problems such as warping, shrinking, worse yet, cracking, silicone connection prevents guitar damage
- Portability, 40g Easy to install and carry, no need to move strings and it can be taken away in the pocket
- What You Get: A low-key luxury humidifier with connotation, and limitless customer support
This humidifier is similar to the other sponge guitar sound hole humidifiers. The differences are the following:
1)The humidifier clips on to the edge of the sound hole while the sixth string holds it in place.
2)The gold hydrometer is attached and lets you know quickly if your humidity levels are where they should be.
The Bottom Line:
This 2-in-1 ability to humidify and let you know what the humidity is without needing batteries, is the primary reason for considering the Guitto GHD.
Comparison of Room and House Humidifiers
There comes a time when enough is enough and you feel the need to humidify the entire room you keep your guitars in. That’s where room humidifiers come in to play. As with sound hole humidification you will find many manufacturers offer similar products. This list represents the models we have had the most success with in a low humidity environment.
AIRCARE Console Evaporative Humidifier
- Console-style humidifier for a whole house up to 3600 square feet. Standalone Type : Cool Mist Evaporative
- Digital humidistat automatically maintains your desired humidity level with digital accuracy
- Automatically shuts off when desired humidity level is reached or when unit is empty
- Easy to clean - evaporative wick traps mineral deposits, Smooth operation - no belts, pulleys or wheels
- Assembled Dimension: 20.5(h) x 21.5(w) x 14.5 (l) in
Evaporative humidifiers quickly put moisture in the air and can support larger rooms. This style was my first foray into room humidifiers. I found in a two story house I needed one on each floor to be effective but the two units worked well and kept the whole house moisture content at around 45% to 50% RH for my house.
There are a couple things that ultimately caused me to switch.
First the relatively large capacity had me carrying the tanks back and forth through the house. While it didn’t seem to be that big of a deal a first I found myself not keeping up with it.
Second the wick inside the filter always became clogged with calcium deposits requiring me to change it out more often that I had originally planned. Changing out the filter could also get messy sometimes if the algae got out of hand in the tank.
Even though evaporative units weren’t the right choice for me, I think they excel in large spaces like studios or if you have a guitar shop where you need to keep things humidified. They also didn’t seem to grow moss and bacteria as fast as the ultra-sonic style room humidifiers.
One last point on this style of room humidifier, they tend to be a little bit louder than the other style room humidifiers so if you have one in a room where you watch tv it sometimes can create a situation where you need to keep the sound up.
LEVOIT Humidifiers for Large Room Bedroom, 6L
- HIGH-EFFICIENCY, FOR WHOLE HOME: It provides humidification speeds 4× faster than others, which can quickly cover 753ft² of the area and last up to 50 hours. You can customize the target humidity you need, and feel hands-free with auto mode
- PATENT WARM MIST TECH FOR BEDROOM: It raises RH 10% in 20mins, providing greater relief from symptoms caused by dir air. Near-silent noise levels and all lights off help you sleep undisturbed
- PERFECT FOR LARGE ROOMS: With a mist output of up to 500 mL/hr, it can easily handle spaces as large as 753 ft² / 70 m². The large 6-liter tank allows you to humidify continuously for up to 50 hours, saving you the trouble of frequent refills
- AUTOMATIC TURN ON & OFF: With a built-in sensor, Auto Mode adjusts mist levels according to your settings to maintain a healthy humidity level
- HUMIDITY UP TO YOU: You can customize the ideal humidity percentage for your house plant, baby, or beloved guitar
After my experience with the evaporative humidifiers l looked for something that was quieter and smaller so that it is easier to clean.
The Levoit 6L became our top choice after testing. I liked the smaller size and the fact that it did both cool and warm mist. As with the evaporative humidifier, we purchased two, one for upstairs and one for downstairs.
This unit also does an excellent job of keeping RH at the correct level but it does it quieter and when it comes to cleaning it feels like less work because its less bulky. The manufacturer recommends cleaning every week and if you’re worried about warranties etc you should follow the manufacturers guidelines. However, in our testing every 2-3 weeks seemed to work just fine without much build up.
Now for the short comings, even though the unit is smaller and easier to handle, there are lots of nooks and crannies that get algae and bacteria on them so you have to spend a little extra effort but it still felt easier to manage than changing out wicks in the evaporative humidifier.
The next area we didn’t like was this model didn’t come with a top fill. Top fill units are more convenient but the Levoit’s top fill model at the time of this writing only had the cool mist models.
The ultra-sonic models also have the annoyance of generating a fine white power in the rooms where they run. It’s not a big deal to clean and is harmless. There are three options to deal with the fine dust. 1) Vacuum and dust more frequently. 2) Use distilled water. 3) Purchase the inserts that filter out the minerals so they don’t get into the air.
The other thing we noticed is related to how well it humidified the air. The air felt better with the evaporative models. We tested using hygrometers and the humidity levels were correct but some how the air didn’t feel as hydrated. This isn’t a big deal as it was doing its job, but something we observed none the less.
This Model is our choice for the most practical in a typical residential home.
Smart WiFi Top Fill Cool Mist Air Ultrasonic Vaporizer
- POWERFUL PERFORMANCE, FUllY UPGRADED: The unexpected 4× faster humidification speed lasts up to 60 hours, and the covering is up to 505 ft². You can also use the APP to customize the humidity so that it adjusts automatically without worry
- BEST HUMIDIFIER FOR BEDROOM: Lying in bed, using the APP or Alexa to control settings, the humidifier will raise RH 12% in 30mins. Enjoy the soft night lights, and the Sleep Mode will give you an optimal sleep-humidifying environment
- BETTER SMART CARE: Simply use the free VeSync APP to control settings anytime & anywhere, create schedules, etc. And the Auto Mode will maintain the room humidity at the healthiest humidity level in you. The powerful and long-lasting cool mist Humidifier helps moisturize the dry air and your skin.
- PLANTS NEED IT: In addition to the most basic plant humidification, it offers you more comprehensive plant-care programs. Including scanning recognition, more professional encyclopedias, and specialized custom plant management
- CONVENIENT TOP-FILL DESIGN: The large opening makes refilling and cleaning the tank easy. Enjoy the convenience of a zero-leakage designed product
This unit is another great option for a single room. It has all the same features of the bottom fill vaporizer reviewed previously. It operates quietly, and is an ultrasonic style humidifier rather than evaporative. It also has the added benefit of being a top fill model. This is more convenient in that you can bring a jug of water to the unit rather than removing the tank and bringing it to the water source.
It also has similar drawbacks, in that it has a tendency to grow algae in the nooks and crannies. It will also generate a fine white power if you don’t use distilled water unless you use aftermarket products used to filter out any minerals in the tank before it is vaporized.
If you don’t have a need for the warm mist feature this is a more economical option to Levoit’s bottom fill model.
Lacidoll Tower humidifier for Large Room
- [Wholehouse Commercial Humidifiers for Large Rooms] 1000mL/h maximum mist output, holding up to 16L/4.2Gallons of water, cool mist humidifier produces 48 hours of continuous mist humidity in a room up to 92㎡/1000 sq.ft. Preset 4 mist speeds between low, medium, high and turbo moisture output for different rooms in dry seasons. Equipped with 2 stainless steel atomizers, which is highly resistant to corrosion.
- [Top Fill Humidifier with Humidistat] You can easily fill water from top without opening the cover (also can fill tap water directly). Built-in humidistat accurately detects the humidity in your room and auto adjusts to your preset humidity level from 40% to 90% for optimal indoor humidity. The humidity as you customize. When the humidity reaches the set level, the mist will be suspended. When the humidity is lower than the set humidity, the humidifier will restart to produce the mist.
- [Easy to Clean, Energy Saving] With wide opening water tank for effortless refilling without any spillage, and provides easy access to clean the empty tank thoroughly with a wet cloth. 360° adjustable extended mist tube for your multiple use at home, office, warehouse, shool, green-house etc. This large capacity humidifier won't need any replacement filters to save your bill. Ideal tower humidifier for your babies, pets and plants.
- [Sleep & Auto Mode, Quiet Humidifier] With clear panel display, let you know the real-time humidity level and settings at a glance. Display will shut down on sleep mode for a peaceful deep sleep. Low noise level less than 35dB will not disturb your relaxation, learning, working and sleeping. When out of water or falling occurs, the humidifier will automatically shut down. Works perfectly for bedrooms, living rooms and baby rooms!
- [Quality Service] Support 30 days replacement & 1 year warranty. We stand behind our products and the best after-sales service team is always with you. Any questions, support assistance all the time.
If you have a larger room or space that you would like to keep humidified, or your simply want to reduce the number of times you need to add water this room humidifier is a great option.
This ultrasonic humidifier is top filled and comes with an extension tube that swivels 360 degrees, allowing you to direct the steady mist in any direction.
The capacity of this unit is 16L more than double the capacity of the Levoit models we liked. As with all ultrasonic humidifiers you have the fine white power in the room if you don’t use distilled water.
The tank on this unit is very easy to clean and it is easy to reach all surfaces. The remote allows you to easily set the humidity levels to your desired settings. The humidifier will shut of automatically if you should forget to refill the tank.
This is an excellent humidifier to use if you need to humidify a larger room or prefer to fill your humidifier less frequently.
AILINKE Large Room Humidifiers
- [Innovatively Portable Design, Water Bottle NOT Included] Just put the hose & element filter into the tank and fix it well before use. Suitable for any tanks with an opening diameter of 1.6-2.4 inches. The applicable area has also been expanded up to 1,000 sq. ft. Works perfectly for both household and industrial commercial use. Note: The water bottle container is not included, please purchase separately.
- [Water Bottle Humidifiers for Large Room] Compared with the general models, the newly designed dual atomizers have superior humidification performance of 800mL/h output. Equipped with a 360° rotatable mist tube that can change the mist direction at your desired. Auto-off mist output if reach your customized humidity.
- [Mobile & Portable Humidifier] The humidifier is lightweight and easy to move. The heavy water tank is no longer restricted, making it easy and convenient to move & store. 1/2/4/8H timer and 35db near-silent frequency added to meet your daily use. Long touch the timer button to turn on/off the self-cleaning light function.
- [Whole House Humidifier with Humidistat] Equipped with an external humidity sensor, the humidity can be set to 40-90%. 3 mist speeds are available between low, medium, and high moisture output for different needs. Constant moisture for more than 48 hours. Give you a warning light before auto shutting off when out of water or falling. The whole house room humidifier with humidistat works for your home, office, factory, and greenhouse.
- [30 Days Free Replacement & 1 Year Warranty] Supports 24 hours service for any quality issues or technical assistance. Note: Due to the special structure, it may take 30-45s to generate mist.
Last but not least on our list is the Ailinke large room humidifier.
We chose this one because we liked how the tank is the water bottle. This makes it easy to get water in larger quantities and simply replace the tank rather than filling.
Because the water is filtered from minerals you don’t get the fine white power with this model unless you are filling your water tank with tap water.
The one drawback on this unit for some may be that it may not look as good to some esthetically. You may prefer the other models I your looking for something that is more sleek.
This ultrasonic unit offers the unique method of making your water tank from the water bottle. If this method of refilling water appeals to you more than pouring the water into the tank and having to clean the tank this is the model for you.