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The Importance of Humidifying Wood Acoustic Instruments

The single most important thing you can do to protect your wood instruments is to learn about humidity control. Have you ever felt sharp fret ends or low, buzzing action on your acoustic guitar? If so, you may be experiencing the effects of low humidity.

 

Every guitar is different. Finishes are different, woods are different, glue is different, and the list goes on. You may have 2 identical guitars both made from Rosewood but that Rosewood is most likely cut from different trees, so they may not react the same to humidity. Every guitar, banjo, mandolin, ukelele, etc will react relatively different to humidity and temperature. That’s why it’s very important to keep a hygrometer inside your case. If you over humidify your instrument that can cause it to swell up and warp as the wood expands, which can cause it to lose volume and tone. When the humidity is too high it can also cause finish discoloration and even allow mold to grow on the inside of the guitar and perhaps the inside of the case depending on what material it is made of. If your humidity is too low or (gasp) non-existent, your have a lot more problems than the cracks that will start to appear. When the cracks show up, the beautiful tone and structure of your instrument hit the road and the party’s over. Take that frown and turn it upside down because it is possible to repair damage caused by over or under humidifying your instruments. It’s typically expensive and it will also depend on how much damage has been done, so make sure to keep your beloved beauty properly humidified to prevent tears from running down your face.

Dave Doll from Martin Guitars tells us that you will need to keep a close eye on a new guitar for the first 4 or 5 years. Why, you might ask? Because a lot of new guitars usually move a lot within the first 5 years before they get acclimated to the environment that they’re in.

While it’s important to keep your entire instrument humidified, the most important part is the body. There’s a great product recommended by both Martin and Taylor called “Dampit” which is a humidifier for acoustic guitars. It looks like a pool noodle or a snake and the purpose of it’s shape and structure is so it can humidify as much of the inside of your guitar/ukulele as possible. 

So, what can you do to keep her in shape?

1. Store your instrument in its case. The case will shelter your instrument through many extreme conditions. We know it looks rockin’ hanging on a stand by your fireplace or hung up on the wall next to an autographed shirt from your favorite performer. BUT…unless you’ve got your entire house at a constant 45-55 percent humidity, you’ll regret it.

2. Use a humidifier in your instrument case during the cold winter season or at all times if you live in a dry climate. You don’t have to go crazy about it, because like we mentioned before, it is possible to over humidify your instrument. Keep an eye on it. Some instruments are thirstier than others and will require more refills. There’s a number of different products you can purchase to keep your instrument humidified but if you’re strapped for cash you can always use a wet (not drenched) sponge in a Tupperware container with some holes on the lid. Just make sure your lunch isn’t inside.

3. Keep a digital hygrometer enclosed in your case and look for 45–55% readings. Digital hygrometers seem to be the most reliable, as some have said that the analog ones that come with a barometer don’t work.

4. Premier Guitar recommends that “if you choose not to store your guitar in its case, at least put it there for one week a month with a humidifier. Think of it as a week at the spa. It will thank you”.

Premier Guitar also provides some great information regarding low humidity levels and what will happen to your instrument.

Below 35 percent humidity:
• Action (string height) changes.
• The top flattens out.
• Fret ends feel a little sharp.

Below 25 percent humidity:
• Fret ends become very sharp.
• There are drastic changes in the playability.
• Seams begin to separate.
• There’s a slight separation between the bridge and top.
• The finish starts to sink.

Below 15 percent humidity:
• Cracks appear in the top and body.
• The bridge and fretboard crack.
• The glue joints in the neck, bridge, and braces begin to separate.

Acoustic Vibes Music Sells a nice selection of humidifiers and humidity control products. Stop in and we can show you the best way to take care of your guitar!

*Disclaimer: Acoustic Vibes Music, Inc does not own any of these photographs. All information in this blog was found on the internet, at premierguitar.com and at guitar.com*

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Banjos Heads – Calf Skin or New Technology?

Banjos originated hundreds of years ago somewhere on the African continent. They were brought over to America in the 17th century along with the African slaves. These “banjars” as the African’s called them, were made up of animal skin (also known as “vellum”) tacked on to a hollowed half of a gourd with three or four strings stretched over a planed stick. The strings were usually made from waxed horsehair or gut. Gut? Not terribly appetizing, but a musical instrument non the less and the beginning of a musical adventure in history – the evolution of the Banjo.

African Banjos a_daniiel-jatta-2011-10 AfroBanjosToday most banjos heads are made of mylar plastic or simulated calf skins which are also called Fibreskyns. Although you can still buy banjos (and banjo heads alone) made with authentic calf skin, it’s not as common and more costly.

The downside of calf skin heads is that they are affected by moisture. Humidity causes the head to become loose which then causes the banjo to lose high end response. Dry days would likely cause the head to shrink and tighten, which often lead to breaking.

Deering Banjos explains the difference between White Frosted Banjo Heads and Fibreskyn Banjo Heads. They have some video as well so you can hear the difference.

TOP FROSTED: crisp, bright, with a quick, snappy note response without too much sustain. Because the head has a slightly sand paper hard coating on the top, the bridge does not shift too easily if bumped/adjusted. This helps give the fast finger picking passages clarity with good note distinction and somewhat stifle some of the unwanted sustain.

FIBERSKYN: intended to approximate the look as well as the sound of the old calfskin heads. This head has a warm, round tone; oftentimes called a “plunky” or Appalachian mountain sound. Note distinction is not sharp but is deeper toned, with a roundness that works well with any playing style. Because of its appearance, this banjo is also a great choice for those players who are part of the re-enactment groups or those who are looking for a very traditional appearance.

We have banjos in stock here at Acoustic Vibes with all the above heads- Come in and try them for yourself?

So where can you buy calf skin heads? You can buy them here at stewmac.com

*Disclaimer: Acoustic Vibes Music, Inc does not own any of these photographs. All information in this blog was found on the internet, at frets.com and at deeringbanjos.com*skinheads

 

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Andy Powers and the New 800 Series Guitars – “LIGHT OF DAY”.

Taylor Guitars Master Luthier, Andy Powers, wrote and recorded a piece for six guitars to celebrate the redesigned rosewood/spruce 800 series.

The piece was written to showcase six different models within the series. While all share fundamental tonal qualities, each body style features unique design nuances that accentuate the guitar’s sonic strengths.

The song is called Light of Day.

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The Aged Tone Series by Bourgeois Guitars.

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Bourgeois Guitars is proud to announce the Aged Tone Series, designed to capture some of the sound, look, feel and vibe of vintage guitars.

A note from Dana Bourgeois :  

“Aged Tone tops may be the most significant technological advance I’ve seen in decades, but these new guitars are about more than just the tops,” reports Dana Bourgeois. “A treated Adirondack top is, after all, just another tonewood; the thing that matters is what you do with it. To get the vibe I was looking for, I ended up modifying my approach to voicing and developed an entirely new finish. The combined result isn’t a substitute for a great vintage guitar, nor will it make people stop playing new guitars with untreated tops. It’s entirely new, yet partially old, totally different and overwhelmingly musical. I can’t wait to hear what different players do with these guitars!”

Click HERE to read the article about them in Acoustic Guitar Magazine!

Click HERE to learn more about the new Aged Tone Series and see model specs!

Bourgeois Aged Tone OM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lowden Fan Fret Guitars (F35 Cuban Mahogany)

Have you ever been curious about the Lowden Fan Fret? Slanted frets…interesting, right? Watch the video of George Lowden explaining the design of the Fan Fret and listen to the demos!

Just click on the link!

http://www.georgelowden.com/catalogue/catalogue/fanfret.html

Lowden Fan Fret -stacks_image_1035

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Taylor Guitars Road Show 2014

An evening of guitar demos with the Taylor factory staff and guitar makers!

Test-drive the redesigned 800 Series and new T5z !
Rare and one-off Taylors will be available for sale
You will be able to register to WIN a CUSTOM Taylor Guitar!
We’ll have FREE TaylorWare gear and Anti-Rust Elixir Strings to give away!

This is all happening on Monday, March 17th at 7pm here at our shop!

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Our Eastman Rep Steve flew down for a visit!

Here is Steve playing our Used Eastman Pagelli PG-1 Classic FinishOur Eastman Rep Steve flew in for a visit!

Click here to see this awesome Archtop guitar!

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Guild Factory Tour!

The Guild workshop, located in New Haven Ct., is a wonderful place. We were fortunate to be hosted there by Guild in May of this year. Premier Guitar has done a nice job putting together a detailed walk-through video of the facility.

Guild Guitars are really a boutique handmade brand- many customers do not realize how handmade and small batch they are. The attention to detail and craftsmanship are impressive. Enjoy the tour!

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The Good Guitar interviews Acoustic Vibes!

Dan Crapsi from the The Good guitar Blog  http://thegoodguitar.wordpress.com  Did an interview with Acoustic Vibes Music President Jeff Looker about the shop and the guitars  we carry.  They did a wonderful job on the interview and video  and we appreciate them coming by  and  talking with us!  Their production company  does  great promo videos, so contact them at: ginny@directcurrentproductions.com

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Review of Acoustic Vibes Music

A customer recently posted a very nice unsolicited review of our shop on their blog

Click Here to be sent to their Blog!

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