Dry Weather Help Center
Have you left an instrument out for a few hours only to come back with it looking like this? You’re not alone!
Read below to learn some facts, tips, and tricks to keep things feeling OK.
While we’re all feeling some relief from the heat of summer, Fall is the season of very dry air! Loosening pegs (and the resultant loose strings) are one of the most common symptoms of this. Below are outlines of more common “ailments” from this changing of the seasons.
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Problem: A new buzz
If you notice a new buzz, check for open seams. Look at the ribs, and see if you notice a space between the ribs and either the top or back of the instrument. If there is a buzz, but a space is not easily visible, a good method to determine if there is an open seam is to see if a piece of paper will slip between the ribs and the plates.
If you do have an open seam, don’t freak out! Instruments are made with hide glue that is meant to come apart. Your luthier can fix this very quickly by simply gluing the seam and clamping it until the glue dries. Please don't try to fix this on your own, as the glue and clamping require specialized expertise.
Problem: A Crack
Generally speaking, a crack can be seen by the naked eye.
Cracks are a little more concerning than open seams, but they are also very common. It’s a bit more urgent to get a crack fixed, however, because you don’t want the crack to grow. Depending on the crack, they can sometimes be repaired externally— at other times, the plate will have to be removed so that the crack can be glued and/or cleated on the inside.
Prognosis: It depends
Cracks are very important to fix as soon as possible, as they can effect the value of the instrument. This depends on the location and severity of the crack, and we will talk you through anything you need to know.
Most musical insurance carriers will cover the cost of a crack repair. Contact us, and we can help you sort through this process!
Problem: Your Instrument Sounds Different
Typically, this will manifest in the instrument lacking some responsiveness, or simply sounding different. Often people will mistake a change in their instrument's responsiveness for worn-out bow hair.
Make sure to check for cracks and open seams, and if you don't see either of these, subtly humidify the instrument (see below for suggestions), and give it a little time to ease into the new weather. If it's still sounding odd after a few weeks, it's a good idea to come in.
When an instrument is in a suddenly drier environment, the wood of the instrument will contract. If the wood contracts enough, this causes the plates to pop loose from the ribs, creating an open seam. If the wood only contracts a little bit, this can change the tension of the soundpost, the tightness of the chin rest, the height of the bridge, among many other possibilities, so it's a good idea for a professional luthier to take a look at your instrument if it continues to sound odd after a few weeks.
Sometimes the instrument needs an adjustment, sometimes it just needs to settle into the new environment. Try to be a little patient with your instrument: just like all of us, it probably needs a little time to adjust to the new season.
What you can do
The best way to alleviate these issues is to keep instruments humidified, and always store them in a case. There are a variety of ways to keep instruments humidified-- you can humidify large-scale areas with house humidifiers and air washers. For individual instruments, we are partial to Boveda Humidity Control Packs.
We would like to steer folks away from long sponge-type humidifiers that go inside instruments, as those are very hard to regulate, and can cause serious issues with instruments.
Additionally, it's important to not OVER humidify your instruments, because a change in humidity is what is difficult for instruments, so simply try to ease your instrument into a new drier season without giving it a daily vacation to the tropics.
As always, we are here to help! If you'd like to book an appointment, or just call and ask us a question, please do!