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Violin case humidifiers

Instruments: Is it important to use a violin case humidifier in a dry climate?

From Gary Foote
Posted August 23, 2005 at 05:39 PM

Does anyone have experience with violin case humidifiers and is it important to use them in a dry climate? I live in the desert southwest where the humidity is frequently in single digits. Also, are the store-bought ones necessarily any better than one you make yourself,as in film cannister with holes punched in the lid and sponge inside. Thanks!

From Tom Holzman
Posted on August 23, 2005 at 06:08 PM
Yes. You need to try to keep the violin between 40% and 60% humidity. Go the website at sharmusic.com and get a humidifier system. They sell two different ones.
From Jessica Smith
Posted on August 24, 2005 at 09:26 PM
Personally, I try to keep my violins between 20 and 30% humidity. They were all made in dry places, and I start having problems with swelling past 45 or 50%.

Just another perspective.
Jessica

From Jeemin Kim
Posted on August 25, 2005 at 08:14 AM
hello,
I live in phoenix, Arizona, where it's like 8% humidity pretty much all year round, and from my own experiences i have to STRONGLY disagree with Tom's suggestion on keeping humidity between 40% to 60%.

True, it would be ideal if it can stay in that humidity every single minute, but living in southwest there will always be times your instrument will be exposed to heat and most importantly, dryness. I.E.: when you take the violin out to practice(unless you have humidifier on in your practice room all the time), going outside house to play in orchestra rehearsal/auditions or what not, and when the humidity fluctuates so much (40%~60% in the case, 10% and lower outside) the wood just cannot take it very well, and will expand, contract, warp, crack or split... or yes, all of the above.

This has happened to me quite a few times with my 80 year old violin, and after some point(I've been living in Phoenix with my violin for 6 years) I stopped to even bother with hygrometer/humidifier and it's been actually giving me less grief this way.

My assumption is that because I don't keep a humidifier in my house nor in the rehearsal room at my local community orchestra where I usually play for 2~3 plus hours about three days a week, it's just better for him(i mean, my violin) to keep it all the same.

If you have had your violin for more than couple months or so, by this time the wood should be adjusted to the humidity of where you live.
If you or your violin have just moved from humid area it would be a good idea to get a humidifier, start using it immediately and then slowly come down(blot the water to max, i guess) to local humidity for the wood to have time to slowly contract(adjust).
Use digital hygrometer to check the humidity at least everyday.. remember, if it fluctuates, it's worse than just being dry all the time.
(In case you have old violin, start seeing a good local luthier regularly if you don't already. New violins usually just don't seem to have much cracking problems.. my 12 year old which is always kept in a exceedingly crappy case without a humidifier has had not one single problem since i moved here)

My luthier who i believe is very competant, however, does recommend me to use humidifier from D'addario. I'm thinking of getting it once I get a humidifier for my home, because I don't like the feel of my instrument super dry all the time(not so pleasant to the touch..) and it also produces less rich sound..

Another thing to note is never, ever use dampits of any kind straight inside the instrument under any circumstances. It's just bad, bad, bad for the wood.
(I'm no expert, but in the similar sense, I would suggest you get a nice commercial humidifier and follow instructions carefully unless your trustworthy luthier instructs otherwise..)

Good luck! (for all of us in the southwest..)


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