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Musical Instrument Storage
Moisture Meter Guide
The complete moisture meter website
As a musician there will come a time when you need to store your instruments. It doesn’t matter which musical instrument you play, every single one needs to be stored properly in order to preserve it properly and ensure that it plays to optimum levels. The storage of musical instruments is a serious matter and particular attention needs to be paid to the environment the instrument is stored in.
Your instrument needs to be stored where the temperature can be controlled. Exposure to severe temperatures, significant and dramatic temperature changes and above average levels of humidity can have detrimental effects on your instruments. Brass instruments can suffer from expansion and shrinkage and wooden instruments can warp, dry out and even encourage mildew to set up home.
For storing an instrument at home it is advised that you have a hygrometer present in the room or place where the instrument is stored. The hygrometer will measure and indicate the moisture content in the air alerting you to any possible moisture problems which could affect your musical instrument.
Moisture Meter Guide 2010 Contact details:firstname.lastname@example.org
50 % Relative Humidity -
40 % Relative Humidity -
35 % Relative Humidity -
30 % Relative Humidity -
25 % Relative Humidity -
Warm air can hold more moisture than cold air.
If you raise the temperature in a room the relative humidity will fall.
If you lower the temperature in a room the relative humidity will rise.
Humidity And Moisture Effects On Wooden Instruments
The craftsmen who make wooden instruments such as the guitar and violin take great care and effort to ensure that the wood used has been dried and conditioned properly before they work with it. Wooden instrument retailers ensure that their stores are suitably equipped and have the appropriate climate conditions inside them. They maintain the correct temperature and humidity within their stores using hygrometers, thermometers and specialized air conditioning. The result being that the customer gets to view a wooden instrument in optimal condition. Extremely conscientious store owners will even perform a moisture content test on their wooden instruments using a pin less moisture meter to ensure that the wood is in the correct condition it was meant to be in. Keeping these wooden instruments in the store during late spring, summer and early autumn does not pose such a significant problem to the condition on the instruments. However the winter months can be challenging with the drop in temperatures and increased moisture content in the air. For winter it is essential to have a humidifier of some sort present in the store.
So as you can see a lot of care and attention has been applied from the manufacture to the selling of your wooden musical instrument. It is therefore a natural progression that you follow the same path and take as much care of your instrument as it is used to. This is particularly so when it comes to storing your instrument. Whenever stored your wooden instrument requires
Humidity levels of 50%
Even temperatures that are no lower than 60 degrees
Have accurate humidity gauges to have a constant update on humidity levels.
Understanding humidity properly and how it can affect a wooden musical instrument is the key to maintaining your instrument in optimal condition. Any wooden instrument is under severe threat when stored where humidity gets excessively high or excessively low. The secret to musical instrument storage is to keep it in it’s case in a controlled environment. This will not only ensure that the solid wood acoustics remain in top condition but that you will have less sharp fret ends to contend with due to shrinking fingerboards. Plywood will not crack through dryness but that does not mean it will not shrink. So the wrong exposure to humidity can also cause the tops and backs of wooden instruments to shrink, hence changing the feel and action of the instrument.
What is Humidity?
Humidity is the state of moisture in air. It is usually invisible but can be seen in the form of mist, fog and dew. These forms are the result of moisture being absorbed in to the air. The term “actual humidity” applies to the total amount of moisture that is present in a particular volume of air. “Relative Humidity” is the ratio between the quantity of moisture that the air contains and absolute humidity. Relative humidity has the most effect on wooden instruments but thankfully is the easiest to control.
As well as indicating the moisture content in the air, the hygrometer will also give you a temperature reading of the vicinity.
The hygrometer will prove itself to be priceless as air humidity is linked to relative temperature. By knowing the temperature and moisture levels in the air in a room in your home, you will be able to monitor and maintain a correct environment for storing your musical instrument in.
An alternative to storing your instruments at home is to hire yourself a self storage unit that has climate control facilities. A decent self storage unit option will have climate control that uses the air and heat to maintain a suitable temperature inside the unit. From experience these self storage units tend to have a temperature control of between 50 and 80 degrees and do reduce humidity in the air. It is also not unusual for these self storage units to contain a dehumidifier inside them as well.
Caring For Musical Instruments
When it comes to storing my guitar I use this Oasis Guitar Humidifier And Hygrometer. It lasts for up to 10 days without refilling and is leak proof. Well it has never leaked on me anyway. It cost me just under $50 and I am well happy with that. Well worth the money and to back up the item it comes with a full 5 year guarantee.
It is quick and easy to use and very effective. Simply fill it with the included injected and slip it in to the sound hole of the guitar. It will be held by the strings and does a great job of humidifying the guitar whilst it is in the case. Have used it in winter as well with no problems whatsoever.
Additional Tips For Musical Instrument Storage
As well as ensuring the correct temperature and humidity levels for storing your instruments, there are a couple of other tips worth following to make sure that your instruments remain in optimal condition.
Before storing any musical instrument you need to prepare it properly for the resting period. You should clean them and then condition them with a wax paste. Never use alcohol or an oil based polish on a wooden instrument. Once cleaned and prepped you should disassemble the instrument, relax any strings if a string instrument and remove any mouth pieces, mutes and straps if you have them.
When you bought your musical instrument it probably came with storage case specifically designed for your instrument. You should always store your instruments in these storage/carrying cases to protect them further. You want the cases to be in good condition and above all, clean. If your case has aged through wear and tear and is not in tip top condition you can always line it with buffered paper which is acid free. For extra protection against humidity you can then place the case and instrument in a polythene bag.
If you have a piano you should cover it with tarp or sheet of some sort to protect it against dust.
If you are storing your musical instruments in a storage unit ensure that you situate them away from any doors or vents. Also store them off the floor by placing them on a shelf or a pallet.
After storing any musical instrument for a long period of time, always clean it and
When one takes up learning how to play an instrument, part of the learning curve is how to look after that instrument. With proper care a musical instrument will maintain it’s quality of sound consistently. Musical instruments vary in size and the materials of which they are made from. Depending upon their size and the materials used in construction, will determine the types and methods of care that are required.
Caring For String Instruments
Amongst this category are violins, violas, guitars and bass. Keeping them well cared for and maintained follow the same pointers.
When cleaning them you should always use a clean and dry cloth. You want to ensure that the instruments are clear of any dust particles.
Once or twice a year you should apply a coat of fresh wood varnish and wood polish.
With the strings you should not replace them all in one go. Replace them gradually in order not to reduce the strain on the strings. When playing you should have clean hands as the strings can accumulate dry skin and any body oil from your fingers.
When it comes to hanging an instrument that has 2 bow strings, you should hang it with the bow string that is opposite to the chin rest.
Caring For Key Instruments
Within this category are pianos, organs and the synthesizer.
Protecting the keys of these instruments is of utter importance. When the instrument is not being played cover the keys with plastic coated pads.
The keys on these instruments will accumulate dust over a period of time. You need to take a cloth and wipe this dust away regularly.
You may experience the keys becoming sticky or even jammed. If this happens it is advisable to seek professional advice and help rather than try to rectify the matter yourself.
Caring For Wind Instruments
Within this category come the flute, saxophone and clarinet.
When picking up the instrument never do so by the keys. When removing it from a case, do so by holding both ends. The same applies for putting the instrument back in to it’s case.
With wind instruments moisture will be caught by the channels from the air that is blown through them. Moisture can pretty much affect anything and the moisture here can cause damage to the internal surface of the instrument and even cause cracking. This same internal moisture can also cause fungal growth inside the instrument. You need to wipe dry these channels after every playing session with a dry cloth.
Some instruments require assembly before they can be played. Ensure all the joints are cleaned before you assemble. Once in a while it is also a good idea to apply a little grease to the corks when they need it.
If you know that you are about to play your instrument then avoid eating food just before. If you have eaten then you will possibly blow food particles in to the instrument. This affects the sound quality and makes your instrument unhygienic.
Any screws on your instrument need to be checked and be adequately tightened at all times.
Always clean the mouth piece before and after using.
Take the instrument to a professional repair shop for a thorough service and cleaning once a year.
Caring For Brass Instruments
Trumpets and the trombone fall in to this category.
Any brass instrument can be easily taken apart. Though sometimes one cork may be tight and you should never force the screws of the cork to open. Go for professional help in this instance.
When you have taken these instruments apart they can be washed with warm water. This will remove all the dust particles. Once washed dry with a soft cloth and leave the instrument in a cool place to completely dry. Do not expose it to direct sunlight.
All the valves should be greased with special valve oil before you put it back together again.
Do not use chemicals to shine the instrument. Such brass cleaners as Brasso will leave the instrument feeling sticky and uncomfortable to the touch.
General Needs Of Instruments
Always protect instruments from extreme temperatures, both hot and cold.
When storing, do so in a cool regulated environment to protect against moisture and humidity.
In winter allow instruments to acclimatize to warmer temperatures before playing.
Never delay any necessary repair work.
Always clean an instrument after every use and replace it back in it’s protective case.
Instruments are expensive. Never leave them unattended or in places where damage may occur.
Never leave an instrument in a closed vehicle or humid place.
Never load your instrument in a cargo hold when you travel. It can be damaged and exposed to unsuitable temperatures.
Keep your insurance payments up to date.
Relative Humidity Change Effects
Signs Of Instrument Damage
The top will then sink and then through the stress levels the wood will actually crack. On the other hand if an instrument is exposed to too much humidity it will swell instead of shrink, ultimately being ruined.
The symptoms of moisture and improper moisture levels can actually be seen and alert you to any problems. It is fair to say that just because an instrument is not cracked, does not mean that it is not damaged. The instrument could actually just be on the verge of cracking. If you notice symptoms appearing on your wooden instrument you need to take drastic action. You need to seek professional help or relocate the instrument to a suitable humidity level and try to reverse the process. If you are unsure that you are witnessing symptoms you can simply perform a moisture level content test on the instrument with a moisture meter. This will let you know if the wood has too much or too little moisture content. Either way and you will be experiencing issues with your instrument.
Relative Humidity And Wood
Wood is organic and a porous material. This means that it will always try to equalize the surrounding air in both temperature and humidity. So basically if you have wood in dry conditions it will dry out. In wet conditions the wood will become wet.
As wood takes on moisture it will swell and grow. When it gives out moisture it will shrink. Nothing can prevent this from happening.
Normal humidity is between 40 and 60 %. We are comfortable in this humidity level, as are wooden instruments. Maintaining these humidity levels are the key. You can add humidity to a room using a humidifier. You can take humidity from a room using a dehumidifier. Air conditioning can also control the environment and are in fact just large versions of a dehumidifier.
Controlling humidity is the major goal of preventing damage to wooden instruments. However any wooden instrument will go through a process before it becomes damaged. It will not be in good condition one minute and then after exposure to unsuitable humidity levels, be damaged the next minute. The process involves the instrument slowly drying out and the wood slowly shrinking.
To Care Is To Share
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