Just like the autumnal shift when leaves and temperatures start to fall, the vernal emergence out of winter offers an important opportunity to give your acoustic guitars some needed care and feeding. Air temperature and humidity are changing, and hopefully you’ll soon be off on some adventures, maybe jamming on a friend’s back porch, playing beside a campfire, or gigging a few shows. Now’s a good time to prep your instruments for the coming seasonal change, especially if you have a collection of custom acoustic guitars or exotic wood guitars.
Understanding Temperature Change and Humidity
Ambient humidity (the percentage of water in the air) greatly influences your acoustic guitar. As we’ve explained before on this site, your guitar is made of wood. Before transforming into a prized instrument, your guitar was a tree. Its main purpose was to soak up moisture, nutrients, and sunlight and it was very, very good at soaking. Therefore, the humidity in your home will greatly influence your instrument. You can learn more about proper humidification techniques in our FAQ section, but in general keep your guitars in cases with a humidifier when not in use and keep them away from heat sources and out of direct sunlight.
Now that you understand the importance of keeping your acoustic guitar properly humidified – let’s take a look at what happens when we transition from winter to spring. In most households in the northern hemisphere, winter means cooler or colder weather, and the use of some form of heat to keep our houses warm. When we introduce heat, we reduce ambient humidity. As we move from winter to spring, thermostats get turned down, heaters start to idle, doors and windows get thrown open, and humidity usually starts to increase. Additionally, rain, snow melt and other moist spring conditions can cause humidity to rise in a household.
So, what does this mean for my handmade acoustic guitar? Well, if the relative humidity increases, you might see a slight rise in the top of your instrument and therefore movement in your action. You’ll see this especially if you had work done to the action of an instrument during the winter months. If this occurs, you might need to have a little work done to adjust the action of your instrument for the spring and summer months. We recommend taking your acoustic guitar to a professional to have adjustments made if you are unfamiliar with the process.
Spring cleaning is a thing, or so we’re told. Whether you go full on seasonal scrubbing in your habitat or not, polishing up your acoustic guitar collection is a good idea. Best of all, wiping down and fondling your favorite instruments is much more enjoyable than polishing floors or scrubbing toilets but still counts as cleaning. Whether you are still getting to know your first acoustic guitar, or you have a vast collection , they all need a little TLC. For detailed information on this process and what guitar supplies you’ll need, see our FAQ section, but here’s a quick overview: First use a soft, dry rag to wipe down the entire instrument and insure it’s free of dust, oils, or smudges. For light scratches and/or to remove build-up on your acoustic guitar, Meguiars #7 Hand Glaze can do wonders and is widely available. This is also a good time to clean and oil the bridge. Use basic mineral oil and polish the frets with 3m Scotch Brite pads. These simple steps will keep your acoustic guitar looking and sounding tip top.
As always – if you have additional questions about caring for your acoustic guitar – we highly recommend checking out our FAQ section on our website. Have a great Spring and happy playing!