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  • Guitars and dry winter air

    I have two electric guitars: a Gibson Les Paul and a MIM Strat.

    The Strat is always on a stand, because it's my beater. The Gibson is always in its case when not being played

    I live in New York, and the fret ends of my Strat protrude very noticeably by mid-winter. And the frets always go back into the board when Spring hits.

    How do you guys deal with the severity of dry air? I'm actually afraid to play my Gibson too much in the winter, because I don't want the fretboard getting all ****************ed up. Or, does the fretboard binding totally prevent fret issues?


  • #2

    I try to humidify.

    My Tele necks wave back and forth, and the hollows need some direct attention.

     My  Martin required way more than ususal attention and I barely take it out in the cold weather at all.

    Glad I checked it before it checked. The seam in the top was starting to show.

    I just use some wadded up wet paper towel ( wrung out) in the accessory case in the case. It works.

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    • #3

      niceguy wrote:

      I have two electric guitars: a Gibson Les Paul and a MIM Strat.

      The Strat is always on a stand, because it's my beater. The Gibson is always in its case when not being played

      I live in New York, and the fret ends of my Strat protrude very noticeably by mid-winter. And the frets always go back into the board when Spring hits.

      How do you guys deal with the severity of dry air? I'm actually afraid to play my Gibson too much in the winter, because I don't want the fretboard getting all ****************ed up. Or, does the fretboard binding totally prevent fret issues?


      in my experience, electric guitars need considerably less attention than acoustic instruments when it comes to changes in humidity and temperature.  

      that said, i condition fretboards at least once during the winter season and try to keep the whole house from getting too dry (we have central air with a humidifier function so we can regulate temperature and humidity pretty well throughout the year).

      For my acoustics, i have a case humidifier with each guitar.  

      worst thing i ever saw on a guitar that was directly related to humidity: a friend of mine lived in an apartment with radiator heating and would generally store his les paul in a case near one of the radiators.  well, that type of heating source can make the air very dry, so the combination of the proximity heat from the radiator and the very dry room conditions caused the fretboard to become unseated from the neck to the point where you could slide a business card underneath the board at the last fret and bury it up to the 13th or 14th fret without any resistance.  he's lucky the board didn't crack, it was so dry.

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      • #4
        I use a whole house humidifier. We also have a a baby grand piano. The humidifier is a neccessity.
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        • #5
          Btw I have 26 guitars. So it's nice that they're still playable in winter.
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          • peskypesky
            peskypesky commented
            Editing a comment

            i live in Manhattan and have about 20 guitars. electrics, classicals, steel-string acoustics, etc. I've been lucky in recent winters because my radiator puts out so much steam that my guitars haven't dried out.

            i do worry though, because both of my brothers had expensive classical guitars that cracked in the NYC winter dry air.

            if i move to an apartment without a steam radiator, i will have to buy some gear to keep my guitars humidified.


        • #6

          I put a homemade humidifier (essentially a perforated travel soap case with a wet sponge) in with my case queens and I have humidifiers for every room that has a guitar in it.  45% humidity is best. 

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          • #7

            I live in Southern California near the beach.  The humidity doesn't change around here much.

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            • Danhedonia
              Danhedonia commented
              Editing a comment

              I live in the high desert, where the average humidity is between 7% and 15% -- 30%+ feels "humid" here.

              With the exception of a Takamine a/e, I just leave my guitars on stands; casing them is too much of a pain, and I'm always picking them up.  For a while, I thought about getting a home humidifier (and sometimes still use one because in the winter my nose utterly dries out) but then there's travel for work, etc. etc. etc.

              It's true that fret ends get a little sharper during the winter, but I think the lack of change from other seasons has been helpful.  I'm into year 8 of living in this climate and so far, so good.  I do try to keep the guitars in a consistent environment; my biggest concerns are direct sunlight and temperature swings. 


          • #8
            I have a room humidifier for the room in which the piano and my guitars all sit. That is kept at between 55 and 60% humidity.

            I usually play the guitars in a different room though.

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            • #9

              Buy a humidifier like the rest of us.

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              • #10

                niceguy wrote: I'm actually afraid to play my Gibson too much in the winter, because I don't want the fretboard getting all ****************ed up. Or, does the fretboard binding totally prevent fret issues?


                Before you get fret issues, you might encounter inlay issues.  I recently bought an ES-345 that came to me with the board in need of some attention.  The main symptoms mine has are the anemic color of the wood and inlays that are partially sitting higher than the board.  I am in the process of replenishing the moisture and oils in the fretboard.  The binding and frets appear to be fine, however.

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                • Belva
                  Belva commented
                  Editing a comment
                  File the fret ends when they're sticking out. When they go back, it won't affect the way it plays. Nothing else matters with an electric. Keep the acoustic/s humidified. Electrics, **************** you, the toanz won't change. Those who say it does need to pull their dick outa their ears and grow a pair.

              • #11
                I suspect the dramatic difference between the summer in a humid climate vs the lack of humidity caused by the heater during winter is very hard on a wood guitar. A whole house humidifier or room humidifier is probably critical in that type of humid climate in winter.

                I live in CO and the climate stays pretty dry both summer and winter. We use a whole house humidifier in winter. I use planet waves case humidifiers that fit between the strings in the sound holes for my acoustics. I probably should use a room humidifier for my electrics but I've given up on them. I do treat the wood yearly on rosewood and similar fretboards. But, after 7 years, I have a Strat with maple neck and fretboard that is showing a fair amount of fret sprout, so I plan to get the frets professionally dressed soon.

                At least the changes happen very gradually over time in this dry climate. But, I'm sure it would be better to have stable and constant humidity.

                I've had bad luck with room humidifiers. The water becomes stinky fast, probably because of my well water. They need constant filter changes and they break frequently needing replacement. I've finally given up on everything but the whole house humidifier and even that had to be moved because it was causing problems with my heater when it would leak. I moved it to the other side of the heater where it can leak without mishap, essentially turning it into a vaporizer, hot air humidifier. It works well enough there and has caused no more problems.
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