David Burgess on Humidity and Hygrometers
It's that time of year--we all need to be aware of maintaining proper humidity. Here is everything we need to know:
Thanks Erin for reminding us all. I for one use the one room control approach, it does work well for me.
I bought one of the little case humidity meters from David, and have been very pleased by its very high degree of accuracy. (My local HVAC guy is shocked by how precise it is.)
The use of hygrometers and room/house humidifiers/dehumidifiers is all well and good and can hopefully keep our instruments from cracking or having joints let go.
In the UK and (I suppose) most of the rest of Europe humidity stays within reasonable bounds. I've never given it a single thought and currently play a 200-year-old instrument that appears to have developed just one crack in the table all its life
David Bailey, most instruments that date from an era before good climate control, and which were kept in places that didn't have a mild Mediterranean-equivalent climate, ended up cracking. (And probably needed to have seams periodically re-glued. Seams coming open doesn't damage the instrument as long as they're promptly fixed.)
I have one of the Burgess hygrometers (thanks, David!), and find it entertaining to watch the humidity swing wildly depending on whether the breeze comes from the ocean or the desert (here on the So. Calif. coast). However, I'm too lazy to try to get control of things with humidifiers and such. The wood pegs pop loose in the dry spells, but as yet I haven't seen any cracks develop, nor any seams open up. Thus far, the only open seams have been due to sweaty hands and chins.
David Bailey asked:
I live in a hot, dry climate, with the summer about to make itself known to us. I use two hygrometers, and right now they claim the relative humidity is 45% or 44%, take your pick. (And, as David Burgess wrote, both might be some considerable amount off target.)
Just a word about the in-case hygrometers… Most don't work or are inaccurate due to their placement (fully flush with no airflow), low quality, or improper calibration.
Violins don't crack until they do, and then you lose significant value as well as compromise the structure and possibly the sound (depending on where the crack is located). David Burgess outlines easy and effective methods to control and monitor humidity inexpensively.
I checked out the website, it looks like the plug-in controller will work with pretty much any humidifier? I have one from last year but it doesn't have it's own hygrometer or really any automatic settings.