Choosing the Right Guitar for Your Climate
Question: I recently purchased a new 000 guitar with a torrefied Adirondack spruce top and a light satin finish. Despite storing it with Humidipaks due to the humid environment near the ocean where I spend my summers and falls in Nova Scotia, the action suddenly increased significantly. A luthier suggested that the guitar’s finish makes it highly susceptible to moisture absorption, making it unsuitable for a Canadian climate. This leads me to wonder: Which climate is best suited for my 000 guitar, and do certain guitars perform better in specific climates? – Scott Waldie
Answer: Firstly, I applaud your attention to humidity control for your guitar and your proactive approach to investigating the issue. These actions are commendable, and I wish more of my clients would follow your lead in addressing instrument care and maintenance.
Understanding Guitar Climate Suitability
Modern guitar manufacturers typically build instruments to withstand a range of environmental conditions, as they acknowledge that not all players have access to humidity-controlled environments. Typically, guitars are assembled at a temperature and humidity level that lies within the middle range of what the instrument may encounter throughout the year, usually around 45% humidity at room temperature.
If your guitar issues are linked to humidity, they can be easily identified. Excessively humid guitars tend to exhibit higher action, bulging tops, and muted tones, while overly dry guitars may have sunken tops, low action, sharp fret ends, and other setup issues. Rehydrating a dry guitar often resolves these problems, although it may take longer than a simple setup adjustment.
Guitar Finish and Humidity Interaction
While your guitar features a thin satin finish, most sprayed finishes act as a vapor barrier, impacting humidity levels more on the interior rather than the exterior of the instrument. Therefore, blaming the finish as the primary cause for the humidity-related issues may not be entirely justified. Proper care and maintenance, including monitoring humidity levels and taking corrective action when necessary, are critical for ensuring your guitar performs optimally in its specific climate.