We discuss the ideal humidity for guitars and guitar storage as well as the ideal temperatures you need to keep your guitars within to protect them and ensure they perform at their best for many years
Getting the ideal humidity for guitars can be a little tricky. If your house, apartment or bedroom is too hot or too cold for your guitar, chances are you’re going to damage it. But before you run out and buy a new house for your prized Martin D-28, fear not, there’s some quick tips you can follow to keep your guitar safe and some very useful products that’ll keep your guitar at an optimal humidity.
Ideal humidity for guitars FAQ
What is the ideal humidity for guitars?
A lot of brands including Taylor and D'Addario state the ideal humidity for guitars, especially acoustic guitars is 40-55%. The experts at Taylor guitars suggest that the ideal humidity level for acoustic guitars is 45-55% relative humidity (RH). Although this may be difficult to get exactly right so a general rule for both acoustic and electric guitars is anywhere between 40-60%. Anywhere outside of that for long periods of time and you might start to have some issues with your guitar.
What is the ideal temperature for a guitar?
The ideal temperature for guitar is anywhere between 21 -25 degrees Celsius, or 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. If your guitar is being stored in a room anywhere above or below these temperatures you need to think about relocating the guitar.
Cold temperatures with cause the guitar to shrink, whereas the high temperatures may warp the wood leading to cracks. In addition, an overly warm room may cause the glue on a guitar to melt which could result in your guitar falling apart. Which leads me to my next point...
How does humidity affect a guitar? What are the Symptoms?
Exposure to too much moisture will cause your guitar to swell as the wood takes on more water. If there’s not enough moisture and the air is too dry, this will cause the wood to dry out too much and eventually crack.
High Humidity – Wet Environments
If you leave or store your guitar in a room that has a high moisture content or high humidity your guitar may swell. The moisture may cause glue joints to fail, the neck to bend and even ruin the finish of your guitar. It will also make your guitar sound dull and lifeless as the sound can’t resonate correctly.
Signs your guitar is too wet:
- Bulging frets
- Bulging body
- Warped neck
- Glue failure
- Finish coming off or bubbling
- Dull sounding guitar
Low Humidity – Dry Environments
In areas where humidity is low, on a plane or in a house being heated, for example, humidity can drop very low as a lot of the moisture in the air is removed. This is very bad for the guitar as the wood shrinks as it dries out. This eventually causes the wood to crack, frets to buzz and protrude and basically make your guitar very difficult to play.
Signs your guitar is too dry:
- Cracks in the wood
- Buzzing action
- Shrinking frets
- Glue coming off
- Finish cracking
All of these problems can be extremely costly to repair should the guitar become seriously damaged. So, it’s best you always keep your guitar in a temperature-controlled room or use humidifiers placed in the guitar case to combat adverse weather effects.
How should I store my guitar?
The best way to store your guitar is in its case. Yes, we all love to have our guitars on display, which is totally fine for a small amount of time, say a day or two. However, any longer and you really risk damaging your guitar.
Room temperatures can fluctuate dramatically depending on how many people are in the room, if you have the heating on and even where the guitar is located within the room – near a fire or window for example. Here;s a few Do's and Don'ts to be mindful of.
- Store your guitar in the case or gig bag
- Keep them away from drafty doors or windows
- Keep a bag of silica gel in the case to dry up excess moisture
- Keep your guitar away from direct sunlight
- Dry it off/rub it down after playing to get rid of excess moisture and sweat
- Keep the guitar by a window
- Keep the guitar by a radiator or fireplace
- Leave it in the car boot overnight/during the day
- Let it get wet
- Store it in the attic/loft/basement
- Leave it out of its case for more than a day or so
How do I humidify my guitar or protect it from adverse temperatures?
The easiest way to protect your guitars is to keep them in their cases when you’re not using them and get the best guitar humidifier possible. A room humidifier is not always an option, so you should use either a humidification pack from the likes of D’Addario or use some kind of hygrometer like the Humiditrak to alert you when your guitar is being overheated or is in a room that is too cold. This’ll save you a lot of money in repair jobs!
A humidification system keeps your guitar at a safe temperature when you’re storing it within the case and regulates the amount of moisture the guitar is exposed to. This ensures your guitar is kept at an optimal level at all times and will ensure your guitar is never too wet or too dry.
Which products can I use to help protect my guitar from bad humidity levels? What's the best guitar humidifier?
Maintaining constant temperature in any home is almost impossible, and probably going to be quite costly over time if you’ve always got your heating on or air conditioning blasting out. It’s also extremely labour intensive having to think about temperatures all the time!
This is why the likes of D’Addario & Planet Waves have come up with a range of great products that will either alert you when your guitar might be in an unfavourable temperature or can maintain ideal humidity levels for your guitar automatically. Here’s our top picks.
Planet Waves Humidipak Guitar Humidifier – Best For Acoustic Guitars
The Planet Waves Humidipak Guitar Humidifier is perfect for those who want to be able to keep their guitar at the optimal 45% - 50% humidity level without having to do anything! This is the best guitar humidifier in terms of price, functionality and ease of use - if you have a guitar you need one of these.
This is an automatic humidity control system that maintains a constant 45% - 50% humidity level so your acoustic guitar is perfectly humidified at all times. All you do is place two of the included packets in the soundhole pocket, then insert the bag into the sound hole of your guitar. Then place one in the headstock pouch. Close your guitar case and let it do its thing! Easy.
This is great as it eliminates all the guesswork around maintaining optimal humidity levels as it automatically absorbs and emits moisture depending on what your guitar needs. If your guitar is too dry, it’ll emit moisture. If it’s too wet, the packet will absorb the residual moisture.
They also last around 2-4 months, at which point they go hard letting you know its time to replace them with the Planet Waves Humidipak refill packets.
Again, they work in conjunction with your guitar case, so make sure you store your guitar in its case when you’re not using it and your humidifier will work perfectly, keeping your guitar at the optimal level. Easily the best guitar case humidifier on the market today.
Planet Waves Humiditrak Humidity Monitor
If you’ve got an electric guitar, or even an acoustic and you want to be kept in the loop as to whether your guitar is being stored in an optimal environment then you need the Planet Waves Humiditrak Humidity Monitor.
This is actually the world’s first climate monitoring system that operates around the clock and sends you updates every hour to your Bluetooth enabled device. This is great because it actually sends you a warning to your smartphone or tablet when the humidity level is too low or too high so you can take the appropriate action and move your guitar to a better environment. It's guitar humidity control made easy.
It’s also an incredibly useful tool for travelling musicians as it also logs whether your guitar has been dropped or bashed around, letting you know when those over enthusiastic baggage handlers are throwing your guitar around the airport!
Simply leave it in the case and allow it to send you updates on the hour, daily or monthly about the conditions your guitar is sitting in. Best of all, the battery can last up to two years, so you can rest safe in the knowledge your guitar is being monitored.
They’re just two options that you can use, but they make life a LOT easier when you’re trying to keep your guitar humidity levels safe!
I’m bored. Can I have some quick tips on storing my guitar and the ideal humidity for guitar please?
Sure – here’s a quick recap:
- The safe humidity level for guitars is 40-55% but 40-60% is also acceptable. Taylor guitars recommend 45-55% but anywhere within this region should be fine – just keep an eye on it.
- The safe temperature for guitars is 21-25 C or 70-75 F
- Always store your guitar in a case, in a room away from a window or heater. A hard case offers better protection from the elements.
- Don’t store your guitar in a loft or basement as these rooms cannot usually be temperature regulated
- If you want to display your guitars, make sure it’s only for a day or two at a time or keep the room temperature controlled.
- If you’re cold, the guitar is cold – that’s how it works!
- Don't leave your guitar in the boot of a car - it'll overheat on a hot day!
- Get yourself a humidification system!
Shop a full range of guitars and guitar accessories over at PMT Online, or call 0151 448 2089 to speak to our guitar experts about the best guitar humidifiers and guitar humidity control options to help you look after your guitar.