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humidity or humility?

Discussion in 'Setup & Repair [DB]' started by Mark Carlsen, Nov 8, 2005.


  1. Just wanted to let you cats know about a cool digital hygrometer that sells for six bucks and some change at Walmart..
    They have a unit for $15 that is like a Radio Shack clone, but this one has Temp and Humidity and a memory function to recall minumum and maximum [Hi and low]. It's a small unit w. big numbers made by Springfield and is a great device for the room your bass lives in.
    That being said it is that time of the year that I restock my Hide Glue stash and get ready for all the cats who put off going to the Luthier for Winter adjustments.Pop a seam, No problem...I have lotsa Hide glue and Soundpost stock for that matter...So you get the picture.
    There is a debate about how much to Humidify during the Winter monthes...Any you Wood boys care to Chime in w. your thoughts...
     
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I have that very model, and it works well. I'm interested in this thread because this year we removed the built-in humidifier from our furnace for health reasons, and this will be our first winter without it. I plan on putting a room humidifier in the music room and shooting for a humidity level of 40-50%, but will gladly hear the makers out about what numbers they recommend.
     
  3. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    I haven't removed my built-in humidifier, but I have by-passed it and shut off its water supply - it'll be our first winter without it as well - Perhaps you and I can swap some dry skin stories, Chris! Ewwww.........

    Now - where the basses live... I have a new evaporative humidifier for the shop & showroom, and have it dialed in to keep humidity between 40-50%, monitored by a seperate, digital hygrometer. The humidifier is a Hunter, and seems to be quite effective without using nearly as much water as I thought it would; it has yet to get real cold here, however, so that could change when the serious heat kicks in.
     
  4. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Okay, off-topic, but for your health you may wish to replace that whole-house humidifier with a drip-panel type that stores no water. Aprilaire has an entire line:

    http://www.aprilaire.com/

    I have one of these but also use an evaporative humidifier in the room with the bass along with a digital hygrometer. I also shoot for 40-50%
     
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I have been informed by both doctors and heating/AC pros that humidity is about the last thing you want in your ductwork, as it causes all manner of industrial-strength FUNK to grow in there. After having ours cleaned out last year and looking at the results, I vowed never to humidify the ductwork again.
     
  6. John Sprague

    John Sprague Sam Shen's US Distributor

    Mar 10, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Sales Manager, CSC Products Inc.
    I'm no expert, but we store and move alot of basses in a full-spectrum climate, so that may count for something. :) we also do the lion's share of bass work for the Rochester area. My experience has been that the carved basses are holding up fine down to even 30%, but I'm sure most will recommend a bit higher. The biggy, hands down, is rapid change. Meaning going from home to car to gig. If the house is 40%, and the gig is 15%, then that's a recipe for disaster. As Ahnold has said many times here, leave it in the bag when you arrive at the gig, and let it slowly acclimate as long as you can. Arriving an hour or two early is probably fine. Keeping your house at 50% when it's in the teens or twenties at your local venue may not be the best choice.

    We're with Mark, we've got the clamps all lined up like good little soldiers and the glue pot is ready. Time for some seam glue-ups and dampit-damage repairs.
     
  7. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    +1. Or 2 or 3... Rapid temp or humidity change is often the REAL danger, though a constant, prolonged 20% humidity isn't a great bet, either!
     
  8. Eric Rene Roy

    Eric Rene Roy Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    Mystic, CT
    President: Upton Bass String Instrument Co.
    Do yourself a favor and check your saddle. IF you can't get a sheet of paper between the edge of the saddle and the spruce, get a good Japanese backsaw and relieve the saddle a bit. The .5mm you gain could be the difference in preventing a saddle crack.
     
  9. I started this thread for a number of reasons.
    First, there is a device out there that is less than seven bucks ,so there is no excuse that we can't afford a digital hygrometer.A humidifier is alot more cash,but worth the investment if you live in an area of far extreme weather conditions.
    I happen to like Dampits [Acually the Humitron brand] and can see no fiddle rot if used properly.Thats the big issue w. these things cuz most cats don't know how to use them correctly.Also ,I only put them in my bass if I'm going to a gig or leaving my Climate controled space where the bass lives in.You have to totally ring these things out and then wrap in a towell for a few minutes before puttig in the bass.Some basses will not need them [Like plywoods] but most carved will.Take them out when you get home.
    I know alot of Luthiers here hate them,but they will help in those brutal days in Jan/Feb. For that matter it's best to play a second bass[Plywood]during those monthes leaving the more fragile carved intruments at home.
    Now how about the cats always in a rush who slip and fall on ice and snap their neck off the bass.Did 3 of those last season.....
    All good points so far from our esteemed TBer's.
     
  10. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    I think it might depend upon where you live. As I see it, adding humidity to a forced air system that is properly set up will not allow the humidity to remain in or condense in the ductwork. In any case, here in Connecticut, the health risks of not humidifying, not to mention the potential damage to the home and the property contained therein, seem to outweigh the negative aspects of what may (but in my case, apparently does not) grow in the ducts.
     
  11. Can you explain this a bit more? Maybe a picture or a "Prevent Saddle cracks for Dummies" description.
     
  12. Eric Rene Roy

    Eric Rene Roy Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2002
    Mystic, CT
    President: Upton Bass String Instrument Co.
    Saddle Crack

    I don't have any pics ready to go of what to do by my suggestion...but the above linked pic may help illustrate what I mean. On either side of the saddle...make a downward cut (down to the block) with a saw that cuts on the pull rather than the push. Do not extend your saw cut past the top edge of the saddle. You are baisically making the saddle mortise wider without removing the saddle.

    This, BTW, before I take a beating for suggesting this, is the poor man's repair. The better way to do it would be to pop the saddle out and trim it instead. But if you are no where near a luthier (like so many TBDB bassists are) it is a nice DIY way to prevent a costly crack.
     
  13. Ok, so I'm lazy, I admit it.
    My thoughts on humidity and humidifying, as previously posted:

    "This has been posted here before, but I guess it's time to do it again, it being heating season and all.

    One dampit won't do much, consider how much wood there is in the body of a bass. And if your bass is out of its bag in a dry room, the dry air will suck moisture from your bass. No amount of dampits will humidify the whole room. Humidify the whole house/ apartment if you can. If you can't, at least get a room humidifier for the room where your bass spends most of its time.
    When you take the bass out of that room, put a couple dampits in it, they will help keep it from drying out inside its bag. Remember to wring the dampits out well so they don't drip inside the body.

    My solid wood bass and I live in Canada where subzero temps and low humidity are the norm during winter. I keep the house at around 35% humidity- less than the ideal mimimun 40%, but it makes for a less abrupt change when I take the bass out to a drier environment. I always put two dampits in the top of the ff holes, preheat the vehicle, and as much as possible let the bass acclimate to ambient temperature inside the (well-padded) bag. I haven't had a crack or open seam in years (touch wood).

    Edit: And get a hygrometer for your bass room, so you know what the humidity level really is in that room. Radio Shack has an inexpensive digital thermometer/ hygrometer that seems to work pretty well."
     
  14. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    All good advice above. Let me add a word of caution: don't depend on one cheap hygrometer. Readings vary widely. Get a few and try to figure out which ones are most accurate. Or you can purchase one for about $150-200 that uses a human hair as the sensor and is supposed to be the most accurate. Not to boast, but I've become very sensitive to humidity and can usually discern the actual RH within 5% or so with no help from instruments. I'm certain it's an acquired skill (or obsession!)
     
  15. I've had an Aprilaire unit on my system for several years now. I'm curious, how would one determine if it's "properly set up?" (the forced air system, that is).
     
  16. Better plan on one for the bedroom, too. I notice the difference between "with" and "without" the humidifier at night especially. Or, more accurately, the next morning.
     
  17. I think alot of this is just plain common sense.Try to avoid extreme or rapid changes in Temp and Humidity and let the bass adjust to it's surroundings.
    My old shop was in my cellar nex't to the furnice.In the real cold,dry monthes w a humidifier going 24/7 I had a hard time keeping the humidity in the 30's,but that was OK cuz it wasn't as much of a shock to the instruments as they left the house than if I had it cranked to 50%.When it wasn't so brutal It would get in the 40's.Tonite w. rain all 3 of my Digital hygrometers are reading 42-45%.{Plus I have the heat on]
    So you don''t have to get crazy about it,just use common sense.
     
  18. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004

    Oh, I was just referring to a heating/humidifying system wherein the humdifier would not be spewing humidity into the ducts when the blower was not operating or where the hydrostat was set too high or malfunctioning or where the humidifier was improperly sized.
     
  19. John Sprague

    John Sprague Sam Shen's US Distributor

    Mar 10, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Sales Manager, CSC Products Inc.
    When I get a shock from grabbing my filing cabinet drawer handle, it's too low! Crude, I know. I have two Radio Shackers in the violin room off my office, and they never agree. :)
     
  20. Arnold, are you availible this winter? Who's human hair is used in this pricey device? Just curious... :rolleyes: