This spring I have been more aware of humidity changes in our area...I mean rapid and drastic humidity changes. Yesterday, the morning started out at 67% and by late afternoon it was down to 22%... it certainly raised hell with my fiddles. I played both in the morning and late afternoon... in the morning both fiddles played easily, but late afternoon they became very tight... I really don't have any interest in getting a carbon fiber instrument, but it is really annoying as this seems to be a pattern in the weather...
How do you deal with this issue and your instruments?
We have a little wireless weather station that shows both indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity and stores maximums and minimums. In the two rooms with instruments we have a total of three cool mist humidifiers - not only for the instruments but general well being.
This house has hot air heat, and in the winter its a job to keep the humidity at 40%, or even close. But lately, like you, I've noticed some extremely dry air masses coming through. We have small garden plants we haven't been able to plant yet, and its been hard to keep them from drying out. A stormy front came through overnight, and right now its 74% outside and 51% in here so all is well. I don't really play enough to notice changes in "feel" - if I can prevent cracks and open seams I'm happy. Just have to keep up with it.
BTW, years ago an old luthier advised me to wrap my fiddles in silk scarves (inside the cases). I think silk is a remakable insulator, and at least it keeps 'em shiny.
Sounds like a lot to deal with in one day. I guess you could hurry and boil a kettle of water or something...lol. Not easy to change rosin mid-day. What do those changes do to humans?
PS - Did you check the action on your fiddles, or was the "tightness" something else? I have one violin which is not really a Stainer model but has abruot arching in the top. It can be very humid here in the summer, and the action on that instrument gets higher. My luthier told me that style of top is more prone to that. I think at this point I have winter and summer bridges for it.
Doug I do check my string heights etc. and usually one of my fiddles I can play in most humidity conditions. The humidity swings have been really big lately and the effect is quite noticeable. I talked with a semi-pro player about this and she says that her instruments were made at different times of year and they react differently and that some violins are just more sensitive. Frustrating dealing the changes ...
It can be a real struggle to deal with humidity problems. I keep my workshop at just the right temperature and humidity, but that means using a combination of devices, such as an air conditioner, a dehumidifier, a humidifier, and a hygrometer/thermometer. If the instrument leaves my shop, I have to be mindful of the atmosphere into which it will venture. For instance, if I’m shipping something out west, I need to put dampits in to prevent the top cracking by the saddle. I also have to monitor this all closely because the relative humidity of various places will determine the way I rehair bows—if I ignore the humidity and ship a bow to a humid place, the hair will become so long that the bow will be unplayable.
Unless you can stabilize the environment in which you regularly keep your instruments, it’s important to get something like a Dampit to keep the humidity at an acceptable level. A lot of people are using Boveda humidifier packets in cases now. I haven’t tried the sample they sent me yet, but I’ve heard they work well.
The thing that helped me most was switching to Wittner geared tuners. My fiddle sat in the case without being played for weeks. Took it out, checked it with a tuner, and it did not even require any adjustment.
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