Whether you are the owner to one or a hundred guitars, I am sure each one is precious to you. Therefore, it makes sense for you to make every effort possible to look after it. You have probably spent a fortune on guitar bags, hard cases, and even polish or cleaners, all to ensure your guitar stays in tip-top shape. There is no doubt that all these accessories are doing a great job. But have you ever thought of how extreme temperatures could be affecting your guitar when you are not looking?
Guitars are of three types acoustic, electric, and bass. Despite their differences in sources of power and the kind of tune they produce, they have one thing in common; they are made of wood. So, just like any other piece of wood, finished or unfinished, will be affected by changes in temperature. According to experts, extreme temperatures are the primary cause of guitar damages. It is the major reason why most guitarists seek the services of a guitar tech. So what temperature is too cold for your guitar that causes harm?
The perfect temperature range for your guitar is 21-24 degrees Celsius or 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Any temperatures above or beyond these should be avoided at any time. With these temperatures, you can be assured that your guitar will not be the next casualty of extreme temperatures. Plus, it is within these room temperatures that the humidity will be maintained at the recommended 40-50% range.
Since weather conditions change rapidly and unpredictably, you have no control over the environmental temperatures. For instance, in the UK, temperatures are always are dropping and rising unreliably. You may put up heaters because it is too cold, only for it to get hot the next minute. Before you even realize it, your guitar has absorbed too much moisture or dried up, causing irreversible damage.
Effects of Temperature Changes
Too low temperatures cause the frets to shrink, leaving the ends sticking out, while too much heat causes warping of the wood plus melting of the glue holding your guitar together. Besides, wood expands and contracts in response to the changing temperatures. Consequently, the guitar components could expand and contract at different rates, causing the neck to separate from the body. All these processes will result in a guitar in distress, which can be identified with the following signs;-
- Warping wood
- Swollen or shrinking frets
- Difficulties tuning or intonating
- Cracks on the wood
- Fraying fret ends
Also, the temperature of a room has a direct influence on humidity – the more the heat, the less the water vapor and vice versa. When there is high humidity, the wood making your guitar absorbs too much moisture causing it to swell. If the swelling continues for too long, the guitar begins to get loose, making it difficult to tune. On the other hand, when the humidity is too low, the guitar loses its moisture causing it to dry up. Eventually, cracks develop on the wood, interfering with the beauty of your precious instrument.
How to Keep Your Guitar Within the Temperature Range?
Guitars are known to respond to their environment similarly to humans. So, do not expose your guitar to conditions that would otherwise leave you uncomfortable. The same way would not want to stay in a cold room for days without clothes, or in a hot car boot, is the exact thing your guitar would not enjoy.
Also, you see how it takes time before you become accustomed to a new place? It is the same thing with guitars. That is why most guitarists remove their guitar from its case hours before the show begins. It allows the guitar to adapt to its new surroundings, plus helps with tuning. Whatever you do to your guitar, ensure it would also make you comfortable.
Here are a few tips that will help you maintain the right temperatures for your guitar;-
Here is how to ensure you store your guitar accordingly;-
- When not in use, ensure your guitar is in its case, with little airflow.
- In case the storage room is too hot/cold, make use of humidifiers, heaters, and air conditioners to try and lessen the impact.
- Ensure the guitar is not close to a window, radiator, or air conditioner as they all cause extreme temperature variations.
- Since you rarely use the attic/loft, it is difficult to control the temperatures in these areas. Thus do not store your guitar here unless you frequent the place.
Use of Hard Cases
Unlike the soft cases purchased together with guitars, hard storage cases are more resistant to outside temperatures. As a result, they can maintain constant temperatures for your precious instrument.
Away from Sunlight
While you may enjoy sunbathing, a guitar does not. Prolonged exposure to sunlight bleaches the guitar’s finishing, destroying its aesthetic appearance. Also, it may cause the wood to lose too much moisture, causing it to crack.
Keep Away from the Boot
The boot is the most convenient place to transport your guitar. However, some people tend to forget they had a guitar in the car truck/boot until it is too late. When it is hot, the boot tends to get overheated, causing your guitar to expand and cause irreversible damage. On the other hand, when it gets too cold, the boot gets even colder, damaging your frets.
Use of Silica Gels
Though small in size, these packets can make a lot of difference. If you are worried you will not be able to control the temperatures, sneak silica gels into the case, and they will ensure your guitar stays dry at all times.
We have talked about the effects of high and low temperatures on your guitar. It is almost impossible to ensure constant temperatures at all times, but with a little effort, it is achievable. The extra effort will not only save you lots of money that could have used with expensive repairs, but it will also ensure you are continually producing great tunes and intonations. Ultimately, it will make you a better guitarist, who does not have to worry repeatedly about repairs.