As we enter late winter and spring is around the corner, repair shops around the country will fill with guitars affected by the climate. Warped necks, cracks, and popped bridges are just a few things that are easily avoided with a little bit of care and maintenance.
The truth is that if are uncomfortable from the weather, your guitar probably is too. Extremes of any kind are bad for wood. To hot and the wood will expand, too cold and it contracts. When this happens too quickly it will cause the wood to react accordingly. Since we are currently in winter, we can focus on the issues that arise from the cold. During the winter your house is usually lacking the normal humidity that spring and summer bring, thus leaving the air very dry. If you are waking up with dry/cracked skin and chapped lips, that’s a sign that it’s too dry.
The biggest issue is wood being too dry. Try to keep your guitar away from direct heat sources such as vents and radiators. If you have a case for your guitar, now is the time of year to be storing it there. If you happen to have a humidifier in one of your rooms, put your guitar in there.
The $20-$30 investment in a guitar humidifier is worth it. We sell a couple of options here such as the D’addario Humidipak two-way humidification system and the Music Nomad Soundhole Humitar. Either of these are solid options, with the D’addario Humidipak taking the edge since there is no risk of adding too much moisture. Below are some signs that your guitar possibly needs humidifying:
Sharp Frets: The wooden guitar neck has shrunk and now the metal frets are poking out. You can tell if you run your hand along the sides of the neck and you feel sharp metal when you go over a fret. This is a definite sign of dryness.
High Action: Your strings are sitting higher than they should be making the instrument hard to play, if not unplayable. The neck might have a bow, or if it’s an acoustic guitar possibly the bridge might actually be lifting off the body. See if there is a space between the back of the bridge and the body, if you can slide a piece of paper in that space, you need your guitar looked at by a professional.
Some other tips:
Never leave your guitar in a car unattended especially in extreme weather. If you are transporting it, always keep it in the car with you, never the trunk. Make sure you always have your guitar in a case when going outside. In the winter especially, it's not a bad idea to keep your guitar in the case anytime it is not being played.
If you think your guitar may be affected by the weather but are not quite sure, please feel free to bring your guitars down to us here at Music & Arts in Southington and ask to see me. I would be happy to take a look at your guitar and assess if the weather is causing any damage or any of the above symptoms! If you think your guitar is having any issues, please don’t hesitate to call or visit, I would be happy to take a look for you! Bringing in your guitar for an assessment is completely free of charge.