February 28, 2022 3 min read

By Rich Jazmin, Jazmin Electric Co.

This month’s Tech Tips concerns how environmental factors such as dryness and humidity can impact the health of your guitars, as well as how to solve for this problem.

Weather and environmental conditions are factors that are difficult to control for, and unfortunately, we’re all susceptible to them. These conditions are only getting more extreme, so in order to keep your gear in its best possible condition, it’s important to consider these factors when deciding how and where to store your guitars. 

Particularly, you’ll want to pay attention to potential excessive dryness and fluctuating humidity levels, which can cause many problems for your guitar - some of which are NOT repairable. This goes for electric guitars as well as acoustic guitars. Orange County Beach cities, where Cottonwood Music Emporium and Jazmin Electric are based, are a prime example of this type of environment. Here, moisture levels in the atmosphere vary quite a bit; in general, living near a large body of water allows for more moisture in the atmosphere. However, these cities experience a common weather effect called the Santa Ana Winds, which occur very often and create very dry conditions.

This dryness wreaks havoc on guitar necks. Essentially, dryness has the effect of pulling the moisture out of the wood in the neck of your guitar, which is under hundreds of pounds of tension. This can lead to sharp sprouting fret ends, bow’d necks, warps, kinks, and twists, which in most cases cannot be fully repaired. If you pick up your guitar one day and play it, only to find that for some unknown reason the action is really high, or low and buzzing, or just isn’t playing right.... question the environmental conditions your area may have experienced in the past couple of weeks. Other causes of  these issues in guitar necks are exposure to sunlight or being stored in a car (sometimes as little as a few hours in a car can have this kind of negative impact on your guitar). 

Certain kinds of neck woods are more susceptible to this effect. These include unfinished necks, such as rosewood or ebony fretboards with no paint sealant; oil-finished woods;  or wood with very worn down or thin paint finishes, like relic’d, not properly re-finished, or overplayed and worn paint. 

Tech Tip

Despite the fact that we can’t control the weather, there are some things that can be done to prevent damage from dryness and fluctuating humidity. 

  • You can keep your guitar in its case with a 2-way humidifying system like D’Addario’s Humidipak. Do this especially during winter months when heaters are used often. 
  • Keep guitars away from bathrooms and the areas around bathrooms, where showers and bathing create fluctuating humidity levels on a daily basis. Kitchens should be avoided as well, as cooking heat and moisture from boiling can create an unstable atmosphere. 
  • Keep bare wood fretboards conditioned with fretboard oil. 

Remember, wood is an organic material, and is not tempered. The density and wood grain is inconsistent and susceptible to moving in unpredictable manners, regardless of the truss rod, as a result of environmental conditions. The wood of your guitar never knew that is was going to be made into a guitar neck that needs to be “straight”: wood is wood, and in the grand scheme of things, all it wants to be is a tree. 


Richard Jazmin is a specialist in guitars and tube amps, and has been playing guitar and learning to maintain them since he was in grade school. He has worked in the industry since high school, assisting Ed Sanner in his guitar andamplifier repair shop, and spent many years touringprofessionally with the multi-platinum industrial metal band Powerman 5000, as well as playing for Estonian pop singer KERLI. His professional career in the guitar business includes the title of head of the electronics department at LsL Instruments, training by master luthier Avi Shabat, and a few years working at Fulltone Pedals. He currently uses his 30+ years of professional electronics and fabrication experience to run Jazmin Electric Co. Rich Jazmin is located in Huntington Beach, CA, and can be found at https://www.jazminelectricco.com/ and @jazmin_electric_co on Instagram.