GUITAR HUMIDIFIERS & HYGROMETERS
If you live in a dry arid climate, frequently travel between climates, or have a guitar that you know is sensitive to low humidity, then having a quality guitar humidifier is a must.
After reading this article you’ll know exactly which humidifier and/or hygrometer to get for your guitar based on the best recommendations from long-time guitarists and luthiers.
We’ll discuss the best humidifiers for acoustic, electric, and classical guitars (and if there’s any difference between each type of guitar), and we’ll discuss the different use cases between using a room humidifier vs. a case humidifier.
You’ll also learn about guitar hygrometers, when you should use them, and how to properly calibrate a hygrometer for low humidity.
A Complete List of Humidifiers & Hygrometers
The Best Guitar Humidifiers & Hygrometers (Click to Expand)
Definitions: Types of Humidifiers
Before we get started let’s review a few definitions for clarity:
Guitar Soundhole Humidifier
A humidity control system that contains a water-absorbent material typically housed in an outer material layer (to prevent leakage). Water evaporates from the absorbent “spongy” material and makes its way into the surrounding air. Soundhole humidifiers are suspended from the soundhole of your guitar. Your guitar must be in its case for a soundhole humidifier to do its job.
Guitar Case Humidifier
A humidifier built to live inside your guitar case, typically used for maintaining humidity levels of an instrument in storage. Most guitar case humidifiers work in both cloth and hard shell cases.
Guitar Room Humidifier
A humidifier that increases and maintains the humidity levels of a large space, such as a music room. Guitar room humidifiers are adjusted to a target humidity setpoint (typically 45-50% per most guitar manufacturers) and work to maintain their set humidity level. If you keep your guitar mounted on the wall or stored out in the open, a room humidifier lets you rest easy, knowing your guitar is in good shape no matter the climate outside.
An instrument used to measure the amount of humidity (water vapor) in the air. Hygrometers don’t manipulate humidity directly, as they are only measurement tools. There are, however, humidifier-hygrometer combos on the market that serve both roles.
Best Soundhole Guitar Humidifier for Acoustic & Classical Guitars
The best guitar humidifier for instruments made of delicate woods, such as the ones typically found in acoustic and classical guitars, is the Boveda 2-Way Humidity Control Pack.
A Very Flexible Humidifier (Boveda 2-Way 49% RH Packs)
The great thing about these Boveda humidifiers is their flexibility. You can place these packs in your guitar’s soundhole or nestle them down next to your guitar in its case -- whatever you prefer.
Just be careful. If you place these packs next to your guitar’s tuning knobs, you increase the chance of puncturing the pack (due to the surrounding sharp edges) and having the gel leak out. That’s the last thing we want.
To avoid this, be sure you place the packs either in the soundhole of your guitar or in your guitar case next to the instrument itself. Make sure its in an area free from any sharp points or potential pressure from the case itself once the lid is shut.
Here’s What Makes it Great: 2-Way Humidity Control
Most guitar humidifiers feature basic, one-way humidity control. You add a little bit of water or soak them for a little while, and then they release water vapor slowly over time increasing the environment’s humidity (your environment here is typically a guitar case).
This is all good and well, but what about stepping that up a notch with 2-way humidity control?
Instead of just adding moisture to the air, it also removes moisture from the air to prevent over-humidification. A Boveda 49% RH Pack will automatically keep your guitar at that perfect 45-55% relative humidity level.
We all know that too much of anything is never good. Eat too much delicious chocolate and you’ll start to feel sick. Spend too much time exercising and pushing yourself to the max and you can seriously harm your own body.
In a similar sense, too much humidity can cause mold, glue bonding issues, and wood warpage in your guitar.It’s true that keeping your guitar at low humidity levels (i.e. sub 15%) for a prolonged period of time can cause serious wood warpage and cracking, but too much humidity can cause the same amount of damage, if not more.
They’re Long Lasting
Not only do these Boveda Humidity Control Packs release and absorb humidity, they also last for an incredible length of time: 2-5 months.
How long they actually last depends on the quality of your guitar case, the current time of year, and what the humidity is typically like where you live; they won’t last as long in drier climates as humid climates, for example.
Preventing and Avoiding Leaks (Leak-Resistant Saddlebag Pouch)
They’re made of a soft material that won’t scratch your instrument.
All you have to do is put your humidity packs inside of a pouch, and then stick it inside your case (you can put them either into the soundhole hanging off your strings, or to the side). These pouches along with some humidity packs can even make a great gift.
Whenever using a humidifier, I would recommend taking the extra step to ensure your guitar stays protected. The price of a protection pouch is trivial compared to your guitar.
What About Humidifiers for Electric Guitars?
We don’t typically think of electric guitars when discussing humidity control and cracking wood… but believe it or not, certain electric guitars are also prone to damage from low humidity.
If your electric guitar has prominent wood components or a solid-wood body, it’s a good idea to keep it in a humidity-controlled environment just like you would an acoustic or classical guitar.
Acoustics and classicals heavily rely on the condition of their guitar body’s wood for their volume, sound quality, and tone -- that’s true.But even though electric guitars rely on amplifiers and pickups for their sound, wooden electrics can still get damaged in dry climates.
Just like for your typical acoustic or classical, we still recommend Boveda 2-Way Humidity Control Packs for any electric that has a significant amount of wooden components.
Best Guitar Case Humidifier
When it comes to guitar case humidifiers, we have two choices depending on how frequently you play your guitar and take it out of its case.
If you take your guitar out of its case frequently, we recommend the Oasis OH-6 Case Humidifier.
The OH-6 hangs off the side of your case and regulates the humidity inside of your case through slow-evaporation crystals.
When you first get the OH-6 and add water to it, the tiny crystals in its center absorb all of the water. In the following weeks and months, these crystals slowly release moisture into the air, and eventually, dry up requiring the addition of more water.
If you seldom take your guitar out of its case or just want a solid proven humidifier, the Boveda 2-Way Humidity Control Pack is the way to go.
We discussed these Boveda 2-Way 49% RH Packs in detail in the Best Soundhole Humidifier section above.
As long as you place them into a safe location in your case (free from any pointed/sharp objects), and supplement them with the Boveda Leak-Resistant Saddlebag Pouches, you’ll have nothing to worry about.
The great thing about these humidity control packs is that they both absorb and release water vapor from/into the air, making them perfect for maintaining your guitar cases humidity at manufacturer-recommended levels (45-55%).
Best Guitar Room Humidifiers
We looked at 13 of the top room humidifiers on the market before deciding on the best. Everything from Honeywell, Venta, Air Innovations, 3L, Vicks, and more.
This is a great humidifier for any room where you store your guitars out in the open.
It has a large water tank (4 Liters, ~1.06 Gallons) that can provide up to 16 hours of continuous humidification. It’s also fairly quiet, which is always a plus.
I especially like the fact that it has a digital readout on the front that tells you the current humidity level. You can set a timer anywhere from 1 to 12 hours, and it’ll automatically shut off once the timer counts down to zero.
The Mooka 4L Room Humidifier works best in rooms ~160 - 320 square feet in size.
Note: Even though this humidifier has a relative humidity readout on the front, I wouldn’t trust its accuracy 100%. The only way to get the true humidity of the surrounding environment is a calibrated hygrometer.
Hygrometers are instruments built for one purpose: measuring humidity. They’re your best bet for accuracy. We cover guitar hygrometers a bit further down in this article.
Just like the Mooka, this VicTsing room humidifier has a digital relative humidity readout on the front along with timer controls (auto shut-off).
The volume is a bit smaller (3 Liters, ~0.79 Gallons), but it also operates fairly quietly and gets the job done.With its 3L capacity, the VicTsing Ultrasonic 3L Room Humidifier can run continuously for up to 10 hours.
Room Humidifier Recommendations
If you’re on a budget and looking for a great room humidifier to store your guitars with peace of mind, we’d recommend the VicTsing Ultrasonic 3L. It works great, has an adjustable timer, and can still run nonstop for 10 hours. This is the best budget option.
If you’re looking to go all out and want a larger 4L capacity with up to 16 hours of nonstop humidification, the Mooka 4L Room Humidifier is the way to go.
Best Guitar Hygrometers
A hygrometer is an instrument designed to measure relative humidity in its environment.
They’re very simple to operate. All you have to do is turn the hygrometer on and take a look at its readout.
What’s a little more complex is calibrating your hygrometer, something that must be done if you want to be 100% sure you’re getting the most accurate reading possible.
We discuss hygrometer calibration in detail in the next section.
The Best Stand-Up Hygrometers
These hygrometers are a bit larger and also more accurate than smaller miniature-sized hygrometers.
Due to their size, they’re really good at measuring humidity in larger spaces, such as the room you store your guitars in for example.
Note: These are lower priced models that you shouldn’t set incredibly high expectations for, but for the value, they were surprisingly accurate and reliable (except for that time a dud was purchased that stopped working after a few weeks, the other ones worked great).
Once calibrated (see hygrometer calibration below), these should serve you well for ensuring your guitars are stored at the appropriate relative humidity levels (45-50% RH).
The Best Mini Guitar Hygrometer (Clip-On)
The best mini guitar hygrometer with a clip (letting you clip it inside of your guitar case, or next to your guitar) is the Oasis OH-2 Digital Hygrometer.
This one is slightly more expensive than the stand-up hygrometers we looked at, but it’s also very good at maintaining exceptional accuracy for a long period of time.
The OH-2 hygrometer has a Velcro mount on the back, letting you stick it on the padding in your guitar case, or any other convenient location that you can secure it to with Velcro.
It measures both temperature and relative humidity.
For guaranteed performance, calibrate this hygrometer before use (see the hygrometer calibration section below).
The Best Hi-Tech (Wireless) Hygrometer
When it comes to technology and hi-tech “cool” gadgets, this immediately caught my eye: SensorPush Wireless Thermometer/Hygrometer for iPhone/Android.
This is a hygrometer you can stick into your guitar case and then monitor on your smartphone through an app - really cool stuff!
It can communicate in a 325 foot radius (without many obstructions of course, such as walls).
After you turn it on and install the app on your smartphone, the SensorPush Wireless Thermometer/Hygrometer will push live readings to your phone app through Bluetooth.
If there’s a problem, the application will let you know.
The great thing is, you’ll have consistent graphs over time of the temperature and humidity inside your guitar case (or whatever space you choose to place the sensor in).
It’s pricier than all of the other hygrometers we listed, but it’s obvious why. None of the other hygrometers have this type of granular tracking, nor a smartphone app.You can check out more details and look at the SensorPush Wireless Smart Sensor’s latest price here.
A hygrometer that’s out of calibration doesn’t do you much good. If the relative humidity its reading is wrong, it’s as if you had no hygrometer at all…
That’s where calibration comes in.
Whenever you purchase a hygrometer, it's important you go through a proper calibration process.
The good news? Calibration is quick and easy, especially if you buy the Boveda 32% Low-RH Calibration Kit.
The kit includes everything you need to accurately calibrate a brand new hygrometer. All you have to do is place your hygrometer in the included plastic bag, seal the bag, and wait 24 hours.
After 24 hours, if your hygrometer is perfectly calibrated, it should read 32% RH. In case it doesn’t read 32% RH, all you have to do is adjust the percentage it reads up or down until the hygrometer reads 32%.
Why does this work? Well, the calibration kit has a salt solution inside that keeps the bag’s humidity at exactly 32%.
When you seal the bag for 24 hours, the humidity stabilizes. Since we know that the humidity in the bag is exactly 32%, we can then adjust our hygrometer to read the correct humidity value. Easy enough.
Notice that Boveda also sells a 75% calibration kit. We won’t need this for our purposes.
Since guitars are meant to be kept at 45-50% relative humidity, we want to calibrate as close to that range as possible (i.e. 32%). If we calibrate our hygrometers at the 75% RH range, then we’ll have more error as we go to lower humidity levels.Check out the Boveda 32% RH Calibration Kit here.
Best Combination Humidifier + Hygrometer
So far we’ve looked at humidifiers and hygrometers separately, but there’s also humidifier-hygrometer combos out on the market that you can snag.
If you want to be able to check humidity and modify humidity with one instrument, then the Oasis OH-5 Plus+ Humidifier with OH-2 Hygrometer Combo may be what you’re looking for.
Note: This isn’t one single unit that has both a humidifier and hygrometer, but rather, its a package of both you can purchase together.
The humidifier is the original Oasis OH-5+ soundhole humidifier, and the hygrometer is the Oasis OH-2.Check out the latest price of the OH-5 Plus+ / OH-2 Humidifier-Hygrometer Bundle.
What does a guitar humidifier do?
A guitar humidifier releases water vapor into the air in an enclosed space, effectively increasing the relative humidity to manufacturer recommended levels (45-55%). This prevents cracks and warping in the delicate woods of your guitar, letting you preserve your guitar’s sound no matter the climate you’re in.
How does a guitar humidifier work?
A guitar humidifier works by having an absorbent, spongy, or crystalline material in its center that holds water for an extended period of time. When you first buy a humidifier, the first thing you’ll need to do is add water to this absorbent center. Once the humidifier is “activated”, it’ll slowly evaporate water into the surrounding environment, increasing the relative humidity.
How do you use a guitar humidifier
How you use a guitar humidifier depends on the type of humidifier you have. For mini guitar humidifiers and soundhole humidifiers, you place them into your guitar case during storage and close the lid. For room humidifiers, you use them by adding water and ensuring they’re active in a larger enclosed space, such as a guitar room where your instruments reside.
When should you use a guitar humidifier
The best time to use your guitar humidifier is whenever you’re either traveling to a climate with very low humidity (below 30% RH), or if you live in a climate where the humidity frequently drops below 30% depending on the season. If you live in a consistently humid climate (35-55% RH and greater), then you must be careful not to over-humidify your guitar.
All in all, guitar humidifiers are essential for keeping your instrument safe in dry climates where the humidity frequently dips below 30% RH.
Don’t let a dry, arid climate ruin your guitar -- humidify!
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