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.
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.
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.
Sign up for our email newsletter today and you'll be the first to know about new products, special offers and more.