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help: aftereffects of flying in airplane with your violin


Cerulean

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After flying on an airplane and then getting off, I reached my apartment and open my violin case. To my shock, I noticed droplets of water on my instrument. I quickly wipe it off, remembering someone's advice not to let moisture on the violin

Do anybody else experience this? What did you do to prevent this? Is it normal? What advice would you recommend? Please help!

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quote:

Originally posted by Cerulean:

After flying on an airplane and then getting off, I reached my apartment and open my violin case. To my shock, I noticed droplets of water on my instrument. I quickly wipe it off, remembering someone's advice not to let moisture on the violin

Do anybody else experience this? What did you do to prevent this? Is it normal? What advice would you recommend? Please help!

i guess it's normal for water droplets to form as the air in the airplane is cold and dry... and of course after u leave the airport,the more humid air outside start to fill your violin case and in turn form the condensate....

i always place a packet of silica gel in my violin case... so as the moisture in the humid air will be absorb by the silica gel. u can buy them from the DIY shop i suppose..

alvin

singapore

onewl@pacific.net.sg

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hello smile.gif

i am not very sure about this... my friend, who is a guitarist... loosen his strings when he is flying, according to him, he say that the guitart will warp because the pressure on the plane is high..

so i am not sure about the violin.... ???

alvin

onewl@pacific.net.sg

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The air pressure in planes is LOWER than at sea level, but I've played on mountains that had lower atmospheric pressure than is no present in airplane cabins. Now 50 years ago, the pressure in some planes was real low, pretty sure to cause ear pain during descent - unless you knew corrective tricks.

There is no way that the pressure would affect the strings or the size of the instrument or warp it.

But the dryness, that's something different, the air in the cabin is the very dry, cold outside air compressed to a survivable pressure and heated, which lowers its relative humidity even more, so if you carry the instrument in the passenger cabin, it's a good idea to have humidification inside the case.

If you put the case in the hold as luggage, it should still have decent treatment (afterall, don't pets go in there too?). Moisture collected on an instrument would occur if it were stored cold and then brought out into a warmer climate (with normal or higher humidity).

Andy

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I can't be sure where the water came from, but it's not hard make a plausible guess and to rule out some possibilities.

My best guess would be that you have a hydration device in the case -- perhaps a bottle. A change in air pressure could force some water out. I don't think one of those green worms in the f-hole is likely to leak because of a change in pressure, but it could easily leak if it's just too wet to hold all the water.

Another possibility is that you carried it in the rain. Most cases have a direct inlet for water, blocked mainly by the zipper. If there were a refrigerator light inside, you could probably see if it were on.

I have heard of cabin air becoming so wet inside that it rained, but that was many years ago on a charter flight. Cabin air is generally just like ordinary room air, except a bit on the dry side. Dry air does not cause moisture to condense, so you can rule out that possibility.

If you checked it, I assume that it would probably not get very cold in the baggage hold. These days people even check pets! However, if the violin did get cold and then was exposed to very humid, warm air, water could condense, especially if you opened the case while it was still cold. If you didn't open the case right away, I would be astonished if moisture got in fast enough to cause condensation.

Alvin, about one thing you can be absolutely assured, however. Cabin pressure cannot possibly cause an instrument to warp. On some flights the cabin pressure is slightly reduced at high altitudes (not high, as your friend claims). That's why your ears pop. (These days the pressure seems much more constant than it used to be.) Even a complete loss of cabin pressure would not cause your instrument to warp, because the pressure would be distributed completely evenly over the entire surface of the instrument, inside and out. A violin will no more warp than a pencil will. And even if it did, loosening strings could not change the cabin pressure. However, a change in humidity during a flight could change the string tension, and that is the reason for your friends precaution in loosening the strings. On a violin, a change in humidity can cause the pegs to pop, but I don't remember ever having a problem with flying.

One more thing. It's probably a very bad idea to put silica gel in an instrument case (unless it's a brass instrument!). You don't want to dry out the wood if you can possibly avoid it.

My recommendation? Just empty your humidifier before the flight and refill it after the flight. If you do that, you won't have a problem.

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I think the put the pets in a special area in the hold. They aren't packed in with the normal checked luggage.

I've travelled with my violin many times. I always bring it on board with me, and when possible, put it in either the overhead bin or else in the coat closet (small planes). I haven't had troubles, thank goodness, but I do keep in near me at all times, and put it in the bin surrounded by soft luggage or blankets.

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The pressure, no matter where you are is the same at all points on the instrument. This is fluid pressure, and what it is will not matter, whether you are in the pit of DeathValley or in space orbiting the earth. Air pressure is a non-player as far as warping your instrument. Humidity can be a factor. I strongly advise against loosening your strings on a violin, becasue you are making it easier for your soundpost to be knocked out of place by reducing the friction that is holding it in place and the risk of some jolts being applied tothe instrument in the process of getting it on and off the airplane and throught the airport is higher than normal.

The condensation was caused by relatively warm humid air coming in contact with the cool varnish of your instrument. Use some sort of water absorption device such as silica gel packets as suggested ONEWL. But don't freak out, the amount of water that you could get this way is not normally very great.

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