Ultimate Guide to Guitar Humidifiers
Perhaps you’re a beginner guitarist who has never heard of a guitar humidifier or maybe you’ve been playing for a little while and are quite familiar with what it is and why you would need to use it.
For those who want to take care of the investment they call an acoustic guitar, a guitar humidifier is not optional, it’s a must.
Below I want to share with you why a guitar humidifier is so important, the difference between using a guitar humidifier and a room humidifier and finally some recommendations on the humidifiers that I have used in the past.
Hopefully by the end you’ll have a basic understanding of proper guitar care in regards to humidity and the elements. Enjoy, and if you find this useful, please don’t forget to share it!
Using a Guitar Humidifier | Why?
Most every guitar you can buy in stores today is built in a controlled environment where humidity remains at a constant level throughout the entire process. The reason for this is that wood tends to dry up or swell depending on the level of humidity and this can have an averse affect on the precise manufacturing of a guitar.
Once a guitar leaves the plant, however, it is up to the stores and the eventual owner to keep the guitar properly humidified. While most guitar stores are good at storing guitars in a manner that protects them from the elements and harsh weather extremes, unfortunately most guitar owners – despite spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on their guitar – don’t do the same.
This is important to note because a guitar that is left out in extremely dry or extremely damp environments could either dry out and crack or swell to cause fret buzzing. Even conditions such as a home with a heater on during the winter can be detrimental to a guitar!
Hence the importance of the guitar humidifier. Guitar humidifiers prevent damage to your guitar by regulating the humidity – whether it is being stored in your guitar case or hanging on your wall. For most guitarist, there could be nothing worse than waking up to find a hairline crack (or worse!) on your guitar.
There are multiple types of guitar humidifiers and I’ll give you a short list of the most popular ones here:
- Sound Hole Humidifier: these humidifiers either cover the sound hole of your guitar or sit between your strings down into the sound hole. These are the most popular.
- Guitar Case Humidifier: these humidifiers sit in the guitar case, usually under the headstock, to keep the entire case regulated.
- Room Humidifier: for those who keep their guitars hanging on the wall or who have multiple guitars that they want to protect at once, a room humidifier keeps the entire room regulated.
A quick tip on how to properly use a guitar humidifier: there is no need to re-wet a humidifier on a daily basis. Depending on the season of year and the region of the world where you live, you may only need to re-wet the humidifier every 6-14 days.
If you tend to have your guitar out of its case often or under the hot stage lights on a frequent basis, you should pay careful attention to the humidification of your guitar.
Guitar Humidifier vs Room Humidifier
Before I dive into the question of whether you should invest in a guitar humidifier or a room humidifier, please read this carefully: your guitar should not be hanging on the wall all day, every day.
Did you know that the best way to protect your guitar, not only from physical damage but also from the elements, is to keep it in its hard case? Yea, I know how cool it looks to have your guitar hanging on your wall but if you really care about the guitar you should store it in its padded home.
Note: hard cases are much better at protecting guitars from the extreme elements than soft cases. Read more about soft vs. hard guitar cases.
Now onto guitar humidifiers vs. room humidifiers. If you’re like most people who have only one or two…maybe three…guitars, purchasing individual humidifiers is probably your best option. Individual humidifiers allow you to adjust the dampness based on how the guitar is responding, something you can’t do with a room humidifier.
For those of you who are guitar collectors or perhaps have quite a few different wooden instruments in your man cave (yes, I am jealous of you!), a room humidifier might be exactly what you need. While you can buy your average humidifier that just spits out vapor indiscriminately, what you really want to get is a humidifier that can take readings of the air and adjust to keep it at a good 30-45% humidity.
Top 5 Guitar Humidifiers Reviewed
With all of that in mind, here are five of the most popular guitar humidifiers. I’m going to break it out into a simple table for you to compare and then below I’ll give my own two cents.
My two cents:
- Planet Waves Guitar Humidifier: I used this humidifier for quite a few years and it worked well. My only complaint is that I don’t appreciate how much it stretches my strings when inserted. Newer models even come with a digital sensor which is awesome.
- Dampit Guitar Humidifier: probably one of the most well-known humidifiers, the snake-like tube does a good job keeping the entire guitar body humidified. Just make sure it’s not so damp that it drips in your guitar or lays flat at the bottom of your guitar.
- Kyser Humidifier: this humidifier covers the entire soundhole of the guitar unlike many of the others. I don’t believe there’s any special advantage to this but it looks cool. The only thing I don’t like about this humidifier is that it’s so thin it doesn’t feel like it retains too much water.
- Planet Waves Humidipaks: the beauty of the humidipaks is that it can either release or absorb moisture depending on what is needed, something other humidifiers don’t do. Each pack lasts between 2-6 months depending on conditions so you’ll need to keep up your supply.
- Oasis Case Humidifier: this has become a very popular model recently as a humidifier for the entire case. No need to stick it in your sound hole or potentially scratch up your guitar face. Just make sure you keep it damp…they dry out easily.
**My Recommendation: based on my 20+ years of experience using humidifiers, I highly recommend either the Oasis Case Humidifier or the Planet Waves Humidipaks. All of these humidifiers work well, but these two are far and away my favorite.
Best Room Humidifiers for Guitars
If you’re intent on purchasing a room humidifier for your guitar, the good news is that there are hundreds more options! Room humidifiers come in every shape, size and color. When you’re looking for a humidifier that will specifically keep your instrument room controlled, there are few things to keep in mind:
- Buy a Humidity Monitor: you need to keep an eye on how the room humidifier is working. I recommend this AcuRite humidity monitor.
- Consider “Ultrasonic”: sure, it may be a bit of marketing magic but treating the air using ultrasonic technology ensures that the mist is cleaner.
- Consider Room Size: humidifiers are designed to work with a specific-sized room. Know what you need before you buy.
Expect to pay between $50-$100 depending on the size and type of humidifier you decide to purchase.
Tips for Using Humidifiers
As you begin to use your new humidifier, here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind.
- “Damp” not “Wet”: you don’t want water dripping on/in your guitar as this can certainly damage the wood
- Know the Ideal Humidity: if you live in a particularly dry part of the world, make sure you check your humidifier every couple days to make sure it doesn’t dry out.
- Don’t Overdo It: some people re-wet their humidifier every day. Don’t do this. Once a week is normal and for damp environments it’s more like every 2-3 weeks.
- Sometimes you need two: if you’re in a particularly dry environment or if you constantly have the guitar out (say, perhaps, you play on stage often), you may need to have two humidifiers: one in the soundhole and one near the headstock in your case.