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to humidify or not to humidify, that is the question!

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  • to humidify or not to humidify, that is the question!

    so you buy a guitar and a case at a shop, the shop keeper gives you silica packs to keep moisture out of the case. you get home and browse the internet for guitar care products and come across a humidifier made for guitar i missing something here??!? and another thing that i cant get clarity over is the maple fretboard arguement...oil it? dont oil it? clean it with what? its a "dry" hard wood (supposedly), and should be (according to some) humidified? treated? im quite confused and hear a lot of debate about this. what about rosewood? it's pourous, so wouldnt humidity be the enemy in any case? i realize i expanded from title topic, but if anyone has any advice, insight, or credible links, i would be eternally greatful. i just want to treat them right. they cost me lots of cash. thanks!

  • #2
    Depends on environment. Too dry and wood shrinks, too humid it expands. Too much oil you'll unseat frets, too little and the wood shrinks and or looks like poo
    I'm going to give you the keys to the Lamborghini


    • #3
      I live in the Northeast with a ton of humidity and I rarely have issues with fretboards getting too dry.
      But if you're in the southwest, you'll definitely have problems with your guitars drying out. Obviously,
      more care needs to be taken with acoustic guitars.

      As for maple necks, if it's lacquered or poly'd, just clean it like you would a finished guitar body.
      If it's oiled or natural, go to the EBMM website and there's instructions for maintaining those types
      of necks...


      • #4
        I live in Cinci. This past winter I bought a like-new 2009 MIM Strat maple board that was so dried out the frets were all poking out. The neck needed straightening as well. That's why it was only $250.

        I filed the fret ends down and polished, and hung my damp bath towel on it. Adjusted the truss rod and action and now it plays and sounds great.

        So without humidity, you might have fret ends pushing out and possibly a neck needing adjusting.

        Many people bitch about old Gibson's with binding having the binding crack at where the frets are, but lack of humidity was the cause, neck and fret board shrank.


        • #5
          Yep, I've had that happen on several guitars - fret ends need to be filed down smooth and/or necks needing adjustment. Ebony fretboards seem especially prone to these issues, shrinking etc. I've even had one develop minor cracks from being too dried out, even before I owned it.

          Humidity (lack thereof) is definitely the defining factor. The key is to not overdo it one way or the other. Everything in moderation.


          • #6
            I live in Phoenix... like living in a blast furnace most of the time, but the humidity here only changes for about 2-3 months out of the year.
            Adding humidity (moisture) to a guitar here is actually pretty dangerous unless it never leaves the house.
            I've seen necks go from perfect to horrible in the course of a day here.

            I prefer to let them acclimate for a few weeks to a month and then maintain them from that point on.

            My house is always at 30%-33% relative humidity inside. My guitars seem to like it as long as I clean and oil them regularly.

            I picked up a Primer Scream neck with an Ebony board and it developed fret bite pretty quick.
            I let it acclimate for about a month to the conditions in my house and then oiled it up and filed the ends.
            Two months later and I can say it has pretty much settled in. Fret ends are still perfect now and the board and neck are still straight.


            • #7
              awesome, thanks everyone. i suppose calling jackson would be the only way to know for sure whether the maple neck on mine has a laquer / finish on it??


              • #8
                i used to do high end residential contracting shit.... most of the millworkers say 35-40% is perfect for woods. Years back one of them recommended gunstock or danish oil...."lemon oil is shit, here try this", he was right.


                • #9
                  I thought gunstock oil was used as a finish; sort of like linseed oil (only better)? Doesn't that get sticky or do you let it dry a couple days? I usually toss orange (furniture) oil on my ebony/ rosewood fretboards when I change the strings and wipe it off as dry as I can. I can't imagine this would unseat a fret, but now that I hear that mentioned it makes me think oil could unseat a large inlay like shark-fins. Has anyone experienced that?

                  BTW I live in the north east, so there's plenty of moisture in the air.


                  • #10
                    nope not sticky at all, thats what jackson uses on there oiled neck, tru oil, just a brandname of gunstock oil. Im in the NE as well, summers are humid winters you should use a humidifier.


                    • #11
                      Thanks man, will keep that in mind.