From Dan Nguyen
Posted November 2, 2005 at 05:25 PM
I didnt want to spend a fortune getting a musafia case or $70+ for the humidifier from Weber, so I set about making a humidifier from the string tube of my case (I dont know about you, but I tend to keep my strings in their bags).
After drilling a bunch of holes in the tube, the main problem has been finding an convenient water absorbing material. I tried tons of stuff, sponges, lots of cotton shoelace, yarn, but its always the same few problem:
1. The string tube is very long and much longer than the musafia and weber's wick humidifier. You would hbe hardpressed to find a sink big enough to sumberge it in (which would be a waste of water anyway- just to fill up a sink for that). Very wasteful and not convenient. it does let you hold more water though...
2. Since it is so hard to submerge such a large tube, this makes many materials unsuitable for use as a sponge inside tht tube.
you COULD pour water down the tube, but you would miss the narrow tube a lot and water would go out the side holes too much and be very messy. It would also take forever to wet the entire material inside tube, especially at the far end.
I tried a bunch of materials:
YARN/STRING/SHOELACES- insertion into the tube is hard because the material gets caught and begins to compress as you push it in further. compression decreases capacity to hold water. Also, since you cant submerge the tube or pour water into it, you probably have to remove the possibly many, messy, folded up strands wet them and reinsert them. I tried it, and it just doesnt work. It catches to the side of the tube even more when wet and then begins to squeeze the water out as you push it further into the tube. ALso, working with many/very long strands of wet material is messy. If you tried to thread it through and layer it carefully, it can take a few hours, longer when wet. It just doesnt work.
SPONGES- they tend to come in small fat bricks which you have to slice into thing discrete strips and insert into the tube. like the rope, very messy and time consuming to remove for moistening, especially for the strips near the middle of the tube. also compresses along the way down (even more so since you are essentially squishing the sponges against each other as you instert them)
The only thing left that comes to mind is a nice big thick (~1/2") piece of cotton rope untreated against water absorption. Its a nice big thick single piece so it should be stiff enough to go into the tube with minimal effort, even when wet, with minimal compression. It is also one piece, so it is convenient to remove, wet, and reinsert. it also goes in very neatly since it cant stack up on itself in the tube (like strands of shoelace or yarn).
I really dont know why I didnt think of the cotton rope earlier. But I havent tried it yet because I need to find some around where I live. You can order it pretty easy off the internet but the shipping far exceeds the minimal cost of a few feet of cotton rope. I am looking at the petstores around where I am right now (since I doubt hardware stores carry cotton rope...its all nylon or some other synthetic now) because bird toys (especially large birds like parrots) tend to use large thick cotton ropes...and they are also animal safe (untreated against water absorbtion).
It is kind of difficult to find a rope that absorbs moisture well because thats exactly what you dont want a rope to do if its holding you up on a building or during rock climbing. But...if anyone decides to also try, tell me how you do!
NOTE: you should of course squeeze some water out of the rope before inserting it into the tube since you dont want it absolutely drenched due to leakage.
The problem with all instrument humidifiers is the humidified air stays within inches of it. One of my guitars has an ebony fretboard which is real susceptible to temporary bending from RH changes in winter. It's in a case that's literally airtight and I humidify the room too. I have a dampit in the sound hole, but I usually have to lay another along side the fretboard to keep it straight.
You might be surprised how much water is needed to change the humidity significantly. If you want to humidify a very small room, it takes multiple gallons of water a day to keep it up to 45% or so, at least with electric heat.
1) Hydrate some of that plant polymer (those little pastic granules that when you add water, grow about ten times their original size. The type I use is "SoilMoist" you can get it, or something similar from a plant store) 1 tablespoon of dry granules expand large enough to make 4-6 humidifiers.
2) Make a pouch (about 2" x 2") out of cheesecloth. Fill with the hydrated polymer, and sew shut.
3) Make a larger pouch that you can open and close (button or velcro). I used fleece, cause its easy, and dries fast.
4) To rehydrate, soak the cheese cloth pouch in water. Be sure its not dripping when you put it in the larger pouch. I find that they should be refilled every 2-3 weeks.
Hope this helps anyone in need of a humidifier.
Personally, the reason I wanted to turn my string tube into a humidifier was:
1. It spreads throughout the case more so it does a slightly better job than a vapor bottle, even though there is no air circulation.
2. I wanted to take my vapor bottle and maybe somehow turn it into a very very very very very very unbelievably slow running fan to deal with that air circulation problem.
I just dont like the asymmetric look of a vapor bottle.
I dunno. Maybe its elaborate but it appeals to the engineering half of me!
Violinist.com Editor Laurie Niles is in New York to cover the biennial event at The Juilliard School, including classes by Brian Lewis and Sarah Chang.
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