How Temperature & Humidity Effects Your Guitar

Temperature Extremes

Dangerous environments include:

Finish checking and crazing are often the result of temperature shock caused by taking a very cold instrument into a very warm environment suddenly.
When instruments are shipped or transported during the winter it is highly advisable to let the instrument slowly warm up to room temperature before removing it from the shipping carton or case.

Spotting A Dry Guitar

Sharp Fret Ends

Low humidity and high heat can cause the fingerboard to shrink. When it does, the frets are now wider than the fingerboard and can cause sharp fret edges. This is particularly noticeable on unbound fingerboards.

The instrument should be properly humidified to avoid further damage. The frets can be lightly filed and polished to remove the sharp edges.

Changes In String Height

Changes in humidity can also affect the neck. A neck which flattens out or back bows may begin buzzing everywhere.

If the neck bows forward (relief) it may render the action too high and require adjustment.


Solid electric guitar bodies do not crack as easily as the thin tops and backs on acoustic guitars. However, the fingerboard, binding, neck pocket etc. can all develop cracks when shrinkage has occurred.

Loose Parts

Obviously every loose part is not a sign of dryness, however, when lack of humidity is the culprit the wood shrinkage can leave tuning machines, neck bolts and other hardware loose.

Avoid Low Humidity

moisture cloudThe need to humidify a finely crafted guitar is no secret. Manufacturers often place the instructions in their sales paperwork, on their website's and even in their emails. Unfortunately, many start to pay attention only after they notice a change in the instrument.

While it is true that some inexpensive, laminated instruments hold up fairly well even when neglected, high quality, solid wood instruments are usually not as lucky.

Just as your furniture, floors and sinuses tell the tale of low humidity, an instrument made of wood will also respond to its need for moisture.

Ideally, humidity should be kept around 45%.

Humidifying Your Guitar

I counter that question with another...what is the humidity level in your home?

A home who's relative humidity drops quite low, lets say 25% during the winter, will require a more aggression system than one who is in a higher humidity environment. While placing humidifiers in the case is a good start, they are often helpless against extreme conditions.

When the humidity in your home is very low it is best to use a room humidifier in conjunction with the instruments personal humidifier. Asking a small sponge to counteract that kind of dryness is asking a bit too much.


Silica Gel Packets

silica gel pack The purpose of the silica gel pack is to absorb moisture and keep everything dry. Unless you are living in a humid area these are not necessary and can work against you. Apparently it is the case manufacturers who place them in the case and they are often left there even after the instrument is added.


It is usually best to store the instrument in the case. Not only does it protect it from damage, the case can offer more protection from severe and sudden environmental changes.


While we need the moisture in our humidifiers we don't want a wet sponge or water to have physical contact with the instrument itself. Leaving a wet sponge resting on the surface of any instrument can damage vintage finishes and swell wood.


Guitar Humidifiers

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