We need to discuss moistness.
You see, almost every article I read on caring for your guitar mentions protecting the instrument with a humidifier. Tons of companies sell humidifiers that you can pop in your case, or even your guitar's sound hole. These devices will slowly release moisture to keep your guitar humidified.
And, to be fair, conditions that are too dry are definitely bad for your guitar—especially an acoustic instrument.
The problem is, the writers of these articles seem to forget that not everywhere in the world is the same as their neighbourhood. Sure, there are many places where the weather conditions make for the sort of low humidity that can dry out your guitar and even damage it.
However, there are also many places where the opposite is true and, while being too dry can damage your guitar, you'll also want to avoid too much humidity.
If you live down the road from Death Valley, you might want to pop a humidifier in your guitar from time to time to ensure it doesn't get too dry. However, if you live in a tropical rain forest, you probably won't want to add more moisture most of the time.
Two slightly extreme examples there, but you get the idea.
Remember too, that even if you need a humidifier sometimes, your local weather may change with the seasons. If you blindly follow the 'humidify-advice', you may be over-humidifying your guitar for some of the year.
So what's the answer?
Firstly, remember that many of the articles you read about humidifying may be either location-specific or (more likely) parroting information that's location-specific. You can check your local weather conditions to get an idea of the average humidity over the year. Google "average humidity for <your city>".
An even better idea, however, is to invest in a hygrometer (a humidity gauge) for your guitar case. Even better, get one for your house/studio/rehearsal room too. Rather than guessing at it, this will tell you exactly what the humidity is. Keep an eye on the levels and try to maintain your guitar somewhere around 45–55% humidity.
You might be able to get a gauge at your local guitar store and, predictably, Amazon have a good selection.
Here's a tip though—Don't search for guitar humidity gauge. If you do, you'll get tons of gauges that cost three or four times as much, just because they have a logo from a guitar accessories company. Just search for 'humidity gauge' or try the Amazon links at the end of this article.
And if I need to Humidify or Dehumidify?
Guitar humidifiers are easy to find. They're everywhere. Pop to your local guitar store and you'll probably trip over a rack of them. The internet can certainly help you too.
The options for keeping your instrument dry in its case are less 'widespread' in the guitar industry. Desiccant packets (like silica gel or similar) are available but there aren't so many guitar accessories companies selling them. Again, Google or Amazon are good places to look but you may have to venture outside the 'musical instrument' categories.
Planet Waves/D'Addario offers a product called Two-Way Humidification System (see links at end of article) that will humidify AND dehumidify as needed. Given that this product adds or absorbs moisture depending on the conditions, it could well be the set-it-and-forget-it solution for the real-world musician. Just pop a sachet or two in your case. They should last a few months in there.
Another money-saving tip: This same product also sells branded as ’Boveda’—The D'Addario one is a re-branded version. You’ll probably pick this up a little more cheaply if you search out Boveda.
If you go this route, buy Boveda 49 (see links at end of this article)—the number is the humidity level it maintains and 49 is a good number for your guitar.
Think Outside The Case
Your guitar doesn't always live in its case. Remember that your home or studio needs to be considered too. Air conditioning can really dry the air, for instance, so you may need a room humidifier if you're running air-con a lot. Damper rooms might benefit from a dehumidifier.
Check your rooms with your hygrometer too (or use my cheapskate, non-branded humidity gauge tip above, and buy one for your case and one for your room).
The Bottom Line on humidity and guitars
Depending on your location, you might need to be keenly aware of too much or too little humidity.
Just don't assume everything you read applies to you.
Check your local weather, get yourself a humidity gauge and try to keep your guitar around the 45–55% mark.
Amazon links for products mentioned:
- Humidity Gauge (Hygrometer): US | UK
- Planet Waves Two Way Humidification System: US | UK
- Boveda 49 Humidification System: US | UK
These Amazon links have my affiliate code attached. If you click them and buy stuff, Amazon gives me a few cents. It doesn’t cost you any more and it means that, every now and then, I get to buy some tea or something. If this bothers you, feel free to just open Amazon and search for the stuff yourself.