Optimal humidity has a profound impact on musical instruments such as increasing their durability and longevity, changing their sound and appearance, and increases their value by prolonging their life.
Humidity between 40% to 55% RH is considered the optimum range for instruments, and you can now easily check your home humidity levels using a home hygrometer. Check it out and see how you can improve your home today!
Pianos, as well as many string, plucked and wind instruments are made from extravagant woods in a climate with monitored humidity and temperature.
Aptly named “tonewoods” are used; wood that has grown slowly and straight and has great sound properties. Tonewood is air-dried and stored for many years until all tensions in the wood have been relieved as much as possible.
But this process requires continual care and attention!
The humidity these climate sensitive instruments are exposed to has a major impact on its longevity, playability, sound and, last but not least, its appearance.
Musical instruments suffer greatly from air that is too dry. If a warm instrument comes into contact with cold air, its surface dries because it warms the air, which then removes moisture from it.
Rough fret edges are a first, clear indication of dry air. Because of the lack of humidity, the wooden fingerboard shrinks, but the metal of the fret ends does not. This causes the edges to protrude upward. Drying wood can also be recognized by a change in the guitar ceiling. Normally, this is slightly curved outwards.
Another sign of low humidity is a wavy surface, as the softwood portions are more intrusive and rub against the hardwood portions. Cracks in the ceiling usually occur directly behind the bridge and run to the near end of the body, while the strings push the bridge strongly against the ceiling.
If the relative humidity is extremely low, the ceiling will continue to collapse. The ends of the bridge will seem bent up. The bridge can tear off under load. The end of the fingerboard lowers slightly into the sound hole with the top. This also reduces the string height and the strings hit the ceiling - they buzz. Struts that do not loosen can push out parts of the ceiling surround.
Pianos and other keyboard instruments have a soundboard made of spruce to amplify the sound. Several slats of different widths are glued together in a precise fashion. The strings are then stretched across the soundboard. Their pull is particularly high on concert grand pianos. Without proper humidification, the soundboard can easily crack from the various pressures.
As well, in pianos and grand pianos, hammers can get stuck due to humidity - the most common cause when a sound "hangs".
Often pianos are veneered. The veneer technique is used for multiple joined wood paintings and inlays. Various pieces of wood are combined on a surface in such a way that a smooth surface is created. Due to dry air, the joints between each piece of wood can tear open and the joints of the wood underneath can be damaged.
So, it makes sense to think about the right humidity! Because dry air, which deprives the material of vitality and moisture, also damages the sound quality and ultimately the financial value of your instrument.