How long will it take a violin to resurrect once I start humidifying it?

April 16, 2019, 10:32 PM · As I mentioned in another thread (on string research), I have a violin that has gone kinda dead on me.

From reading an old thread on this forum, one possible culprit is it has dried out (I kinda leave my violins lying about). I've put it in a case by itself, and put a humidifier in there.

How long would it take to start rectifying itself, if in fact that is the problem?

Replies (30)

April 16, 2019, 10:52 PM · Within a day or two I would guess.
April 17, 2019, 3:18 AM · What was the humidity in the room where the violins were lying about? What is the humidity level in the case now?
Edited: April 17, 2019, 5:15 AM · I just put batteries in my indoor thermometer/hygrometer, and it is saying 45% at the moment. Case humidity is 62 in one case with the dead violin, and 42 in the other case.

Both these cases has a Planet Waves humidifier in them.

Not sure the hygrometer at 62 can be trusted. It is a dial type hygrometer that comes with the no-name case. Both are dial type. The other one is in a new Bobelock case. Still, not sure I can safely assume it is accurate.

April 17, 2019, 5:36 AM · Assuming the hygrometers are accurate, I'd say it will take about a week for the most of the wood in the violin to reach an equilibrium with 62% humidity, if it started at 45%.

This can vary, depending on the moisture and vapor permeability of surface coatings on the violin, and may take longer where the wood is really thick, like in the neck and scroll.

April 17, 2019, 5:52 AM · Thank you.
April 17, 2019, 6:19 AM · Could speed up the process a hundredfold by dunking it in your toilet bowl.
April 17, 2019, 7:46 AM · Why the toilet bowl? Wouldn't the sink faucet be more sanitary?
April 17, 2019, 8:16 AM · depends...
April 17, 2019, 8:39 AM · In my mind, low humidity makes for a more lively, or overly harsh instrument... not dead. I would not expect more humidity to make a violin undead.
Edited: April 17, 2019, 9:26 AM · I've found the dial hygrometers (both of the ones that I have had) to be inaccurate by at least 20%.

I'd probably bring my violin to the luthier, assuming you have a decent one not too far away. Every time my violin has sounded dead, it was due to an open seam.

April 17, 2019, 3:04 PM · Hi Pam,

I've had two luthiers look at it. One said "It's not a good fiddle" (it was ok at one point). The other said "There's no reason this should not sound better than it does".

Next to my ear, I don't notice it. if someone else plays it, I can hear it.

April 17, 2019, 3:20 PM · Im having the same problem right now.It's been a heavy four weeks of playing and the soundpost has pushed the back out slightly.According to my luthier the soundpost just needs "snugging up".
It has a one piece back which,again according to my luthier, is not as strong as a two piece back.Looks pretty if that's important.
Edited: April 18, 2019, 9:26 AM · If you want to humidify your fiddle why not just let it watch you take a shower?

Sometime it past quarter century I read that was one way to "age" a new fiddle. In fact the "article" said "seesawing" between low and high humidity was a good thing for a new instrument. Perhaps it improves the fit of bridge and soundpost "feet."

If anyone knows if this has any validity I'd like to know.

April 18, 2019, 8:28 AM · @Andrew,

Music to Shower By

April 18, 2019, 9:07 AM · I wonder if anything would start warping due to extreme changes in humidity, though? Especially if it's a new instrument? I've never broken in a new violin, but a new oboe needs to be kept at a specific humidity as constantly as possible and played for a little bit every day for about a year before it's properly seasoned and broken in.

I would be nervous with really high humidity and heat (like you would find in a bathroom after a shower) and then going out into lower humidity and temperature.

I'm also interested in it if anyone has experience or more knowledge.

Edited: April 19, 2019, 3:53 PM · How do you keep an oboe at constant humidity since its interior is subjected to 100% RH (and sprayed with spit) every time it is played?
Edited: April 18, 2019, 9:57 AM · Also, re: oboe, to oil or not?
April 18, 2019, 11:08 AM · I'll agree with Don Noon, in that I wouldn't expect a change from 45 to 62% humidity to bring a fiddle back from the dead.

That's a pretty narrow range, in the context of soloist instruments which regularly travel all over the world.

April 18, 2019, 3:04 PM · Try changing the strings David?
April 18, 2019, 3:15 PM · My understanding is that 45% is within the range of humidity at which a violin should be kept.
Edited: April 19, 2019, 12:13 AM · My ear is so damned relative, but after humidifying it for two days, I went to a shop to test out other violins to possibly replace it. It was sounding pretty damned good. One of the people there said "What's wrong with the one you have?", meaning, it sounds fine, why are you shopping for another one?

Then I went to another shop to see what they had. I finally found one violin that sounded better than my current one, and have it on evaluation for two weeks.

@Peter, I had Prims on it for a long time (for fiddling), then when it went dead, one luthier put Evah Pirazzi's on it. I still wasn't quite satisfied, and talked to another luthier, who actually screwed things up even more, putting a new sound post in, but putting it at an angle where it wasn't seating properly, and giving it a more shrill sound, and he put Helicores on it to counteract that messed up sound post. I didn't know the sound post was screwed up until I took it to the original shop I bought it from and they looked at it. I never looked at it after the work was done.

I'm thinking about trying some Infeld Blue strings on it. The Evah Pirazzi's do seem to be doing better than the Helicores though. I put two A strings on, one Helicore, and one Evah Pirazzi, and A/B'd them like that.

April 19, 2019, 12:12 AM · I also ordered a Dampit for it, but my F hole is too small to allow the Dampit to be inserted. Back to the Planet Wave boxes.
Edited: April 19, 2019, 1:57 PM · Dampits aren't good for instruments in my opinion. Several top violin makers I know have told me they've seen water damage inside instruments with dampits. It's best to use a room humidifier or de-humidifier, and keep the humidity level consistent throughout the year.
April 19, 2019, 3:01 PM · Do Prims ever actually go dead? I thought they were nigh
April 19, 2019, 3:11 PM · I once asked Dimitry Sitovetsky how his Stradivarius coped with changes in humidity. He said, "It's been around for three hundred years. It's fairly philosophical".
In Ireland we can have three or four seasons in a day, it's important to make philosophical violins.
April 19, 2019, 4:49 PM · If the case is made out of wood, that would help...if it's properly humidified.
April 19, 2019, 5:10 PM · Nate - I have used dampits for years and never had a water damage issue. I think the people at risk for that are the ones that do not adequately squeeze out the damper before inserting it. Ideally, the room in which you keep your instrument should be properly humidified, but many folks do not have the luxury.
Edited: April 19, 2019, 5:22 PM · David, as I have mentioned before, the reason an instrument may sound good at the store is the acoustic property of the room and presence of resonating instruments. I was surprised how my own baroque instrument sounds great at my friend's place and then again when we had a rehearsal at my place 7 days after. The difference? He does not have a carpet, but does 1 piano, 1 double bass and 1 guitar sitting there.
You can drive yourself insane if you start believing dealers - their job is to sell you a fiddle, your job is to resist the tunnel vision they create. I hope that you will give up on that violin before it is too late. No amount of humidity will make a poor violin sound good.
April 19, 2019, 6:49 PM · The violin I'm having problems with, I have had for years. I didn't just buy it. It did not used to sound bad. Another possibility is my ear got appreciably more refined.

I am actively looking for a replacement, and in the meantime, trying different strings. My ear does change on me, which is annoying. Hard to stay on the same path when it does that.

So, I'm not falling prey to an aggressive salesman. I ask to look at instruments in a price range, they bring them out, and I spend an hour or two testing them. So, no aggressive salesman. I make the choice.

April 22, 2019, 10:09 PM · So, I seem to be slowly reclaiming tone out of my "dead" fiddle.

I first tried putting 3 different A strings, at the same time, on the violin (replacing D and E strings also), so that I could quickly hear the differences in the different strings, and how they changed over a day or two. When one was the clear loser, I would replace it with another string I bought to test.

I finally went with Vision Titanium Solo strings. It had Evah Pirazzi's on it, but they were a little harsh in comparison to the Titanium Solos.

I'd already started humidifying it. I have NO idea whether that contributed, but it kinda sorta seemed to. Totally subjective observation. Today I also noticed that the feet of the bridge were not exactly meeting the curve of the violin face well. Not a huge gap, but I could see a dark line. I pulled out my string jack, jacked the strings up, went and got some extra fine sandpaper and put down on the violin face, and rubbed the bridge feet back and forth, longitudinally, and took a slight bit of wood off. Seems to have opened up the sound.

I also noticed that when I put my Fishman V-200 pickup on there, that it is a total tone killer if put on the treble side, as instructed by manufacturer. On the bass side, it does not dull the sound so much as changes the frequency response, where it is less open.

However, some of these issues were happening when the pickup was not on the unit.

Now I have more breathing room as far is needing to buy another violin. My damned ear keeps changing on me the more I practice though. I think getting more sensitive. Who said you can't teach an old deaf dog new tricks.

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