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topic icon Author Topic: Do you hydrate your mandolin?  (Read 33801 times)
BluegrassBrian
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URL icon « on: February 05, 2007, 02:44:21 PM »

Okay, I'll try out a little mando-geek posting...

I pulled my mandolin out of the case yesterday for the first time in over a month.  Usually I keep a little humidifier in the mandolin, but that had long since dried up.  So I was nervous about how it was going to play.  But amazingly, it sounded and played great.

Do others (particularly in CO) hydrate their mandolins?  My mando (a Collings) was born in TX and lived for awhile in North Carolina, so I always figured it needed lots of moisture here in Colorado. 

Am I wasting my time with the hydration/humidifier?  Or causing more damage?   Curious to hear other's thoughts...

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SteamboatPaul
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URL icon « Reply #1 on: February 06, 2007, 02:53:35 PM »

My mando and my mandols were born a few feet from you and i have never hydrated them. They both seem to be fine.

oooo  Collins....drool drool


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Bud
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URL icon « Reply #2 on: February 08, 2007, 09:47:28 AM »

I've never hydrated my mandolin, but I do try to keep a humidifier running in the house during the winter.  Not sure how much actually gets to my music room, into the case, directly to the mandolin.  I've seen no problems with my instruments here in NC.

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BluegrassBrian
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URL icon « Reply #3 on: February 12, 2007, 10:24:04 AM »

I suppose I should just let it settle into the dryness of Colorado and never worry about this.

But here's another question:  I've been leaving my mando out of its case (and actually playing it for a change) and I've noticed that the top is dropping a little bit - presumably due to the lack of my intense hydration.  (for whatever that was worth)

Is it a waste of time for me to put my little humidifer in the f-holes but leave the instrument out of the case?  I always assumed I had to put it in a closed case to really change the humidity level.  I'm still sort of guessing that's true.  Rolleyes
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URL icon « Reply #4 on: February 12, 2007, 11:06:48 AM »



as you know, I'm no expert in the ways of instruments...but here's my thought:

perhaps due to your intense hydration, the sudden lack of any moisture at all has taken a slight affect on the mando.

perhaps you can wean the mando off its humidty addicition with some methadone or other similar intrument helping drug. LOL

(yes, I'm a dork who seeks only to entertain himself. Geek)
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URL icon « Reply #5 on: February 18, 2007, 01:03:06 AM »

I have a San Juan mandolin made by Bobby Wintringham. I live in Colorado (where it's ussually pretty dry)  but sometimes visit my family in Ohio (where it's not so dry at times) & of course I take my mandolin, so I asked him about hydrating & the effects of traveling from a dry climate to a humid, & he said don't worry about it. So I don't. I even took it to Lima Peru in the summer (where it's pretty humid) & had no problems.

However, I do notice that my mando sounds different as the humidity changes, with it sounding the best around 40%.

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« Last Edit: February 18, 2007, 11:00:06 PM by fatcactus » IP address Logged
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URL icon « Reply #6 on: February 25, 2007, 06:23:11 AM »

I am not a musician, but a lover of wood. I am a sales representative for a major cabinet manufacturer. Our number one service call is related to improper humidity in the home. Wood is kiln dried to 6 - 8% moisture content. This keeps the wood very stable. In order to maintain 6-8% moisture content in the wood the surrounding relative humidity must be in the neighborhood of 45 - 60 %.
Wood is porous and will react to it's surrounding conditions. If you have no humidity system in your home, run the furnace/wood burning stove 5 months out of the year, your home is going to be down in the 30's and your instrument is going to be 4.6 - 4.8, very dry, wood contracted.
On the other end, if you live in a river bottom, leave the garage door up all the time, and the windows down, you are going to have excessive humidity and your instrument will go up to as high as 12-15 % and the material will expand.
Solid woods respond quicker and move more than veneers.

It doesn't really matter too much about which state you live in, it matters more about what is going on inside the home where the instrument is stored.

Hope this helps a little.

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david blair
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URL icon « Reply #7 on: February 26, 2007, 02:54:41 AM »

If the top on your mandolin is sinking you should definetely humidify your environment or at the very least always return it to the case. A large sponge inside a zip-loc bag with holes in it is a good idea. A Martin dealer recomended a friend put his new guitar first in a plastic trash bag with the humidifier and then into the case for the first month or two. As a general rule good musical instruments are not made from kiln dried wood, but stock which has been seasoning for many years in the luthiers shop. San Juan mandolins are made in Ouray, just over the hill from Telluride, and his wood is already acclimated to the dryness. Give yours time to season before stopping or slowing your hydrating is my two cents. I have many vintage and new instruments in my house, and have luckily hydronic heat, but when I recently took home a new high end mandolin from the SF bay area to Tahoe the top split a couple days later. Change in tempurature can also be an issue with a new instrument. Besides the wood cracking it can also cause lacquer to check. Camping? A heater at night and your sleeping bag during the day to store your precious.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2007, 03:01:37 AM by david blair » IP address Logged
adk pete
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URL icon « Reply #8 on: March 10, 2007, 06:27:04 AM »

 i have both a solid wood morgan monroe mando (cheap but what a great playing instrument) also a mahogany gallagher guitar in addition to keyboards, strats, and various and sundry other acoustic and electronic instruments. i live in the adk mountains of extreme upstate ny...about as close to quebec you can get w/out speakng french... we heat w/ wood, which draws the moisture out of everything around.  i keep a humidifier in both cases...and check them regularly... we also keep a small humidifier going in the house all during heating season.  my "in case" humidifiers need to be recharged at least once a week.  they actually go dry.  w/ the money invested...its a small price to pay...  an old fashioned film vial w/ a bunch of holes punched in it along w/ a piece of dampened sponge costs about nothing is is cheap insurance.  i do know many pickers around here who ignore humidity and have warped and cracked instruments to show for it...enough prostelitizing...hope all is well and keep on picking

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URL icon « Reply #9 on: June 08, 2007, 11:06:36 AM »

I live in Denver and occasionally see the humidity drop to concerning lvl's.  I have a room full of mando, guitars and dulcimers (all accoustic).  The rule of thumb I follow has been to keep my lvl's between 40-60% humidity.  I have a cheepo humidity gauge in that room and an inexpensive room humidifier there.  If it dips - I turn it on.  I don't normally have to worry about it in the summer it seems - winters are more of a concern.

Waiting until you have instrument damage is too late.  You know the saying about an ounce of prevention.........

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URL icon « Reply #10 on: June 15, 2007, 03:31:08 AM »

I heard the saying once that a chopped up raw potato in your case will get you from Nashville to Aspen...

Travel safe all. I heard a few years ago of Colorado patrol pulling over a car cause of something hanging from the mirror. And they searched!
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linda baker
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URL icon « Reply #11 on: October 15, 2007, 07:19:30 AM »

How about borrowing/renting a beater mando or something from a music shop. that we you MIL could hear the music. My 10 yo has a spare one here I bet he'd lend here in DOlores in exchange for it's return.

Linda
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URL icon « Reply #12 on: October 15, 2007, 05:24:58 PM »

So sweet miki! Hope you all have splendid memories of the trip for a long while.

Linda
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URL icon « Reply #13 on: June 02, 2008, 07:39:13 AM »

Sam Bush uses these nifty Dampit humidifier thingys.

http://www.playbetterbluegrass.com/dampit_humidifier_4514_prd1.htm

just soak them in water, squeeze out the excess and stick them in the f-hole.

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URL icon « Reply #14 on: March 09, 2009, 03:05:07 PM »

I hydrate my Collings guitar which seems to need it.  You're right, you have to be careful not to over do it so I squeeze out all excess moisture out before inserting the humidifier in the sound hole.  My BRW mandolin on the other hand does fine without humidifying; I'm not sure why.  I make a point to keep the instruments on the second floor because apparently moisture in a house rises.  Basements are supposed to be the worst place to keep them. 

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