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Sep 14, 2021 - 4:45:44 PM

Loup

Australia

136 posts since 11/24/2012

I've been hearing a lot about humidifiers and the necessity for carrying one in your fiddle case. I am a skeptic until something is proven to me. Are humidifiers really a necessity.
Does a humidifier actually make a difference to a violin sound; and are they used in colder climates.

Loup
Oatlands.Sydney.

Sep 14, 2021 - 5:18 PM

9409 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Loup

I've been hearing a lot about humidifiers and the necessity for carrying one in your fiddle case. I am a skeptic until something is proven to me. Are humidifiers really a necessity.
Does a humidifier actually make a difference to a violin sound; and are they used in colder climates.

Loup
Oatlands.Sydney.


I'm not an authority on violins but I DO recall that a good humidifier will help a CIGAR..!!!smiley Sorry., I couldn't resist that comment.. But seriously.. I don't use a humidifier.. I'm sure that the variables are  infinite..  Where one lives, value of instrument, etc..  I used a humidifier for a while but over time  I just forgot to keep it damp and eventually must stopped using it.  These days, my home is humidity controlled and I don't worry about it much.. Hey, now that you have posted a topic.. KEEP THEM COMING!!!  

Sep 14, 2021 - 9:05:25 PM
like this

530 posts since 3/1/2020

Humidifiers are very useful tools to have. Whether you need one really depends on two things:
1) Whether you can accurately control and monitor temperature and humidity for your instrument where you keep it
2) Whether you take the instrument out into different conditions

I don’t have humidifiers in my instruments because I keep them in museum-like conditions and never have to worry that they’re undergoing stresses. But that means I constantly watch the temperature and humidity and keep a humidifier and dehumidifier in the room.

For most people who play in different environments, the instrument can really suffer as it moves around. In the DC area, the summers are extremely humid due to the swampland, but the winters are bone dry—there are days where Arizona is more humid. That can seriously wreak havoc. At the shop, we don’t sell a cello without a humidifier. When the heat comes on in the winter, it dries out the already-dry air to the point where it becomes dangerous. Cracks happen all the time at the saddle because of this, and one on the right side only needs to go unnoticed for a little while before it becomes a soundpost crack and reduces the value of the instrument by up to 80%.

As to the type to use, the surest way to humidity the violin is to use a humidifier that fits inside (e.g. Dampit or RDM) and guarantees the wood absorbs moisture. I’ve been told that case humidifiers tend to put a lot of moisture into the case fabric without doing much for the instrument. I have heard some positive reviews of the Boveda system, but it’s more expensive and I haven’t tried it myself.

I’ll just add that it’s true that many people do without humidifiers, but that doesn’t make it a good idea. Most players are unable to diagnose structural issues, so they may not be aware of potential or existing problems caused by humidity or lack thereof. If you’re in a temperate climate, it may not be an issue, but few places are stable enough.

Sep 15, 2021 - 5:13:33 AM
Players Union Member

carlb

USA

2359 posts since 2/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Loup

I've been hearing a lot about humidifiers and the necessity for carrying one in your fiddle case. I am a skeptic until something is proven to me. Are humidifiers really a necessity.
Does a humidifier actually make a difference to a violin sound; and are they used in colder climates.


Here in the northeast U.S., the humidity is rather high 60-90% so I don't use them. However, I spent 8 years in Colorado, where the humidity is often about 15% and I used them in all my instrument cases. I visited a music store in Fort Collins, in 2009, and they had a humidity indicator, about the size of clock, on the wall and was told they never let it go below 35%. Best to know the humidity where you live or travel.

Sep 15, 2021 - 6:14:16 AM

Baileyb

USA

78 posts since 1/24/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Loup

I've been hearing a lot about humidifiers and the necessity for carrying one in your fiddle case. I am a skeptic until something is proven to me. Are humidifiers really a necessity.
Does a humidifier actually make a difference to a violin sound; and are they used in colder climates.

Loup
Oatlands.Sydney.


I use in the case humidifiers (sponge in a plastic holder) for my 3 fiddles and viola during the heating season here in W New York.

My first fiddle that I bought in 1976 was in storage ( I should say neglected ) for almost 40 yrs. When I got the bug to play the fiddle again, I found that the top had cracked under the tail piece along the glue line were the two halves were glued together. My luthier said that was a common occurrence if you let your instrument get too dry. 

I can not tell if the sound of the instrument is effected to any degree, but I won't have any more saddle cracks again! 

Sep 15, 2021 - 3:50:24 PM

7 posts since 6/21/2007

Joining the chorus of the need to use a humidifier during the "heating" season. It can get to 15% relative humidity or lower in a well heated home. I have used the " dampit" system. It won't help the sound per se'. Cheers! Wayne

Sep 15, 2021 - 5:07:04 PM

Loup

Australia

136 posts since 11/24/2012

quote:Thanks Lee, that's a good start, but i need to hear of more fiddlers and violinists that use humidifiers.I'm hanging off from buying one until I 'm satisfied that they have any definite claim to being 100 percent usefull
Originally posted by TuneWeaver
quote:
Originally posted by Loup

I've been hearing a lot about humidifiers and the necessity for carrying one in your fiddle case. I am a skeptic until something is proven to me. Are humidifiers really a necessity.
Does a humidifier actually make a difference to a violin sound; and are they used in colder climates.

Loup
Oatlands.Sydney.


I'm not an authority on violins but I DO recall that a good humidifier will help a CIGAR..!!!smiley Sorry., I couldn't resist that comment.. But seriously.. I don't use a humidifier.. I'm sure that the variables are  infinite..  Where one lives, value of instrument, etc..  I used a humidifier for a while but over time  I just forgot to keep it damp and eventually must stopped using it.  These days, my home is humidity controlled and I don't worry about it much.. Hey, now that you have posted a topic.. KEEP THEM COMING!!!  


Sep 15, 2021 - 8:41:44 PM

JonD

USA

27 posts since 2/12/2021

Hi Mike from your byline, you are fortunate to live in a climate classified as ‘humid subtropical’ so I doubt you would ever need a humidifier unless you travel south in winter…. But those of us in colder temperate climates swear by them! On some stringed instruments like flat top guitars, the primary effect of low humidity, short of physical cracks, is to change the string height due to sound board shrinkage. Not sure how much this happens in fiddles but others might be able to comment on this. Cheers, Jon

Sep 16, 2021 - 10:47:10 AM

530 posts since 3/1/2020

quote:
Originally posted by JonD

Hi Mike from your byline, you are fortunate to live in a climate classified as ‘humid subtropical’ so I doubt you would ever need a humidifier unless you travel south in winter…. But those of us in colder temperate climates swear by them! On some stringed instruments like flat top guitars, the primary effect of low humidity, short of physical cracks, is to change the string height due to sound board shrinkage. Not sure how much this happens in fiddles but others might be able to comment on this. Cheers, Jon


The long arch on violins can absolutely be affected by humidity. It's more apparent on cellos, which tend to change more dramatically (the reason cellists often keep a summer and winter bridge).

Old violins with high arches and thin tops are especially susceptible. 

Sep 18, 2021 - 9:03:06 AM

Earworm

USA

231 posts since 1/30/2018

I started using a humidifier, just a sponge in a little plastic container with a lid that I drilled holes into. When I bought my (old, Stainer-copy) fiddle, it had a seam separation, twice, and had been in storage for some time before that. My teacher suggested that for this instrument, a humidifier might be a good thing to try, and I've used it for both my fiddles ever since. I don't know if this is true, but he said high humidity was not very likely to cause a problem, but low humidity could cause a lot of problems for old wood like that. To Rich's point The Violin Beautiful, the arching is not as extreme as some Stainer copies (I've been told, by luthiers who worked on it) but probably does have more curvature than average.

Sep 18, 2021 - 9:29:49 AM

DougD

USA

10290 posts since 12/2/2007

Loup - In your location I wouldn't worry about it. Wooden instruments are happiest between 40 and 60% relative humidity, similar to humans. You can just keep up with the humidity on your local TV weather reports, but I've been to Sydney (even played a gig there) and its pretty temperate.
In arid locations as Carl described, or places where buildings are heaed in the winter humidification can be very important, but I don't think its needed where you live.

Edited by - DougD on 09/18/2021 09:31:11

Sep 19, 2021 - 5:20:25 PM

Loup

Australia

136 posts since 11/24/2012

quote:Thank you JohnD, that's what I was waiting for.Lucky I don't live in Tasmania,where it is very cold,and too near Antarctica. Sydney can get very humid at times,so the idea of purchasing a humuidifier is now deado. One more thing that has also crepped in my mind.Are humidifiers made in different siZes for guitars,basses etc.
Originally posted by JonD

Hi Mike from your byline, you are fortunate to live in a climate classified as ‘humid subtropical’ so I doubt you would ever need a humidifier unless you travel south in winter…. But those of us in colder temperate climates swear by them! On some stringed instruments like flat top guitars, the primary effect of low humidity, short of physical cracks, is to change the string height due to sound board shrinkage. Not sure how much this happens in fiddles but others might be able to comment on this. Cheers, Jon


Sep 20, 2021 - 4:12:18 AM

5401 posts since 9/26/2008

The answer to that question, Mike, is a resounding yes! They come in many sizes and shapes.

Sep 20, 2021 - 4:49:02 AM
likes this

68 posts since 1/19/2018

Hi. I live in central Missouri and use one in the heating season. I made my own from a plastic pill bottle with several holes drilled in and a piece of sponge. Nothing fancy but it works. Been doing this for years. I’ve been told the ideal humidity is between 40- 60 %. I have a double fiddle case and on that one I use two of them. I can definitely tell a difference in sound when they start getting low. Also one thing is pegs loosening up big time

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