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Violin in the shop... again. Humidity control is useless

Jefferson Dixon

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Published: February 20, 2010 at 10:17 PM [UTC]

Winter is KILLING my violin. There hasn't been anything serious yet but it's in for monitoring purposes. He said the NY weather has been very dry. I saw some slight unevenness on the back and although it's almost deffinately cosmetic he is taking out the soundpost and strings to release tension for a few days.

Is there no solution to this? I can't keep humidity constant everywhere I go, that's impossible. I think humidity control solutions are useless because it's the dramatic change in humidity that hurts the violin, not where it is at. A violin is perfectly happy at 20% humidity if it's kept that way.

Unfortunately, the weather has been uncooperative. It's changing like crazy.

Posted on February 21, 2010 at 4:39 AM

 I believe proper humidity level should be between 40% and 60%

From Lisa Van Sickle
Posted on February 22, 2010 at 1:43 AM

If you keep it at, say 50%, though, what happens when you take your violin out of its case in a rehearsal hall that's at 12%?  It seems like that's more dangerous than keeping it lower but steadier all the time.  Where I live, single-digit humidity is common. 

Posted on February 22, 2010 at 2:50 PM

There are some humidifiers that can be put in your case, one that is good is called STRETTO or something like that. You can also use a humidifier in the room you kee your violin.

As mentioned above, 20% is too low. Too low humidity can cause cracks on your instrument, so take care.

From John Cadd
Posted on February 22, 2010 at 6:36 PM

In England ,living between the River Mersey and Welsh Mountains I never have a problem with dry air.I became conscious of the problem guitarists have when I was looking at Mexican guitar sites.Some of the best makers were photographed with finished guitars hanging up in clear plastic bags like loaves of bread.Maybe you need to make sure the violin doesn`t go stale.Think of it like that.  Most moisture must escape through the sound holes from the bare internal wood surfaces..Would small patches of cling film held down with soft foam slow down that process?

From Jefferson Dixon
Posted on February 22, 2010 at 11:31 PM

As stated above, I'm told by my luthier that the rapid changes in humidity are much more the culprit than a rather low, steady humidity. I'm told that many musicians over humidify their cases and run into big trouble when going into a dry space... so why humidify at all?

From David Rose
Posted on February 22, 2010 at 11:46 PM

I can tell you that for many years I did not do anything about humidification, and rehearsed in very dry halls every day.  I had a seam open up every year (live in NY state), and just thought that was part of life as a string player.  

When I really started getting serious about humidification (2 years ago) - dampit every day when viola is going to be in a dry environment, case humidifier (stretto), humidifier in studio (warm mist, the cool mist ones I find loud and don't humidify as much), I have not had an open seam (knock on wood).

I'm a believer in doing as much as you can,


From John Cadd
Posted on February 26, 2010 at 11:42 AM

Humidity is a surprising subject.I read an account once of the problems the RAF had in India when they were using aircraft with wooden frames .If they were not very careful the wings of the planes would start to go curly. Not funny if you`ve just taken off.

 Late news just in !  

I loaded a Chrome Extension  called "Currently  " this week which shows the time and date but also gives the weather forecast for where you live .   The interesting part is the page with weather Graphs and on that page is

Temperature, Dew Point, Humidity and Pressure. 

Learn what Dew Point does by reading around the subject and keep an eye on the graph for your home town .  The daily change in humidity can be startling. Early mornings 6am to 8am is mainly when condensation happens on lawns (see Dew Point) and maybe even violins. Then your violin may go moldy . Mold settling on wooden parts of some schools caused them to close while the problem was solved. 


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