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Ray Weaver

Dealing with lack of humidity

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I would like some insight into the threat of extremely dry humidity to an instrument. I have an in case humidifier (Stretto gel-pad) and dampits which keep the case at about an ideal humidity. However, the building where I often practice is extremely dry. I have been reading concerns from some that the quick change in humidity is the greater danger than simply low humidity itself. Will dampits kept in at least while practicing have any beneficial effect or might it make matters worse?

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You can certainly keep a dampit in your instrument while you're playing it--I did that for quite a while--but as you can expect, your sound will suffer a bit. I stopped doing that after the Dampit got caught a few times as I was pulling it out and I feared that if I weren't careful, I'd damage an f-hole with an over-enthusiastic yank.

Since then, I've relied on a case humidifier and a Cushy insulated case cover, and things have worked out pretty l. About every 6 years, I've had a (different) seam open up on my Longiaru violin, but I attribute that to how it was made. Knock on wood, it's been the glue that's given out and not the wood. My older Boston School violin has stayed tight through 27+ years of playing in just about every possible environment (arid/tropical/hot/cold) you can imagine, other than extreme cold. I think the fact that it survived 4 years in a bone dry and overheated college dormitory says something about it.

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Whether a sudden change in humidity is dangerous depends on the duration. The wood will take some time to exchange moisture with the air, so I think I'd be fine with a radically different humidity for about 6 hours, longer if the instrument remains inside a fairly tight case.

A Dampit won't really make any difference when an instrument is being played. There's too much air moving in and out of the ff holes.

Regarding the dorm room experience, many violins go through things like this without damage. You just never know though.

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You might want to give the fiddle mouth-to-mouth (mouth-to-f-hole) every15-20 minutes if you're playing in a significantly drier area than the instrument is stored. Exhaled breath is high in humidity; a puff or two should keeo the interior at reasonabvle levels. Don't get carried away, and I doubt if it's good for more than a couple hrs. This is a sort of emergency stopgap procedure, I expect.

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How about a tube up one nostril so you don't need to stop playing?

Actually, if there's not much air movement in the room, a violin will be in a zone of higher humidity anyway while being played.

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I am going to have a very similar problem coming up in the future. I will be moving from Florida to Idaho. Florida's humiditry is like soup and Idaho very dry. How can I protect my instrument while they adjust.

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