Flight Uke Tips: Humidity and Ukuleles
I have started a continuing series of Ukulele Tips for Flight Ukuleles. This article appeared in their social media on January 14, 2020. The tips are meant to fit in a single Instagram Post. Many thanks to Flight Ukulele for making this possible. The photo is from the Oasis website.
Show care for your ukulele by maintaining its level of humidity. We refer to humidity in terms of “relative humidity (RH),” which is the amount of water that the air can hold based on the ambient temperature. Ukuleles prefer conditions between 40% to 60% RH. If you don’t know the RH level, you can buy an indoor weather station or a hygrometer, and some household thermostats show humidity levels.
It is uncommon to over-humidify a ukulele, but it is easy to under-humidify one. If you live in a dry area or where indoor heat is used, indoor conditions are likely below 40% RH. While laminate ukuleles are able to handle more extreme conditions than solid wood ukuleles, they still have wooden fretboards and can benefit from attention to humidity levels.
A lack of humidity causes wood to shrink, resulting in sharp fret ends and cracks. Sharp fret ends are easily fixed and are a sign that you should do a better job of humidifying your instrument; cracks require the skill of a luthier to repair and are a problem that is best avoided. If you feel sharp fret ends, put the ukulele in a bathroom with a shower (not IN the shower), letting the room get nice and steamy. Allow the ukulele to absorb the water vapor in the air and repeat this process a couple of times over a day or two. Afterwards, check the fret ends to see if they still need to be filed down.
How do you keep a ukulele humidified? First, store it in a bag or case. Cases do a better job of “locking in” humidity, but gig bags work, too. Next, purchase a humidifier such as the D’Addario Humidipak or the Oasis OH-18 or OH-32. Finally, soak or fill the humidifier with distilled water and store it inside (or next to) your ukulele while it is in its bag or case. The humidifier will release water vapor into the air inside the case (or gig bag). You can also make your own humidifiers with sponges or water beads, and you can buy hygrometers that can be stored in the case with your ukulele.
It is easier to care for a ukulele than to repair one—so store your ukulele between 40% to 60% RH.
- Posted in: Flight Uke Tips