How Musicians Preserve Vintage Instruments

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How Musicians Preserve Vintage Instruments

The Guitar Works, Ltd. is a musical instrument store in Evanston, Illinois. In business since 1979, it has built a reputation as the place in Chicago land to buy professional-quality guitars, mandolins, ukuleles, amplifiers and more. Since many of their instruments are vintage or hand-made and extremely high-end, such as their collection of Martin guitar models, keeping the instruments in top condition is of paramount importance.


Acoustic instruments are particularly sensitive to humidity and temperature. Permanent damage can occur if an acoustic instrument isn’t stored in a stable, mild environment. For example, if humidity is too low, it can cause the wood too crack. If an instrument is subjected to a rapid change in temperature and/or humidity, it can cause “checking” to the lacquer finish.


The Guitar Works, Ltd. installed an AcuRite Environment System with Temperature and Humidity, which features My AcuRite. Since the system includes multiple AcuRite Temperature and Humidity Sensors, Guitar Works’ staff are able to monitor conditions in not only their acoustic instrument display room, but in all vital areas of the store. Perhaps most importantly, if the conditions go outside of the store's preset range of safe humidity and temperature levels, an employee will immediately get notified by email or text message so they can take action.

We now have the ability to monitor humidity levels when the store is closed. You need this product!

Steve Siculan Guitar Works, Ltd.


Store manager Steve Siculan said a primary advantage of the AcuRite system is that offers the ability to keep an eye on humidity and temperature levels even when the store is closed. This helps them potentially prevent damage in the event a guitar humidifier needs refilling, or there is a problem with the heat or air conditioning system.

"We monitor the temperature and humidity levels in three different areas of the store" Siculan said. "We can check the values online or on our smart phones. If we notice low humidity levels while the store is closed, we can go to the store and rectify the situation."

Siculan said that even during shop hours, the AcuRite system offers many advantages over the collection of analog thermometers and humidity gauges they previously had peppered throughout the store. In addition to increased accuracy, he said they appreciate the convenience of viewing conditions "at-a-glance" from the AcuRite digital display, a computer or their phones.

"Instead of physically checking many humidity gauges around our store we can now check online or with our smart phones," Siculan said. "We also have historical data to refer to, if necessary. Ultimately, it saves us time and money."

Proper Care for Your Instruments

Recommended temperature and humidity levels may vary between types of wooden acoustic instruments and even between instrument manufacturers. What everyone seems to agree on, however, is that you should always avoid extreme conditions, and especially avoid rapid changes in conditions. For example, if you’re driving home with your guitar during the winter and you have to transport it from a cold car to a warm house, keep it in its case for at least 20 minutes after you enter the house so that it can slowly acclimate to its new environment. If you open the case immediately, the instant change temperature and humidity could cause permanent damage.

Suggested Storage Conditions

Another thing that most experts agree on is that if an environment is comfortable for you, it will most likely be safe for your musical instrument. Below are some guidelines for instrument storage. Note that these are strictly guidelines. Your best bet is to check with the manufacturer of each instrument you own for recommended conditions, then use your AcuRite system to help you maintain proper temperature and humidity levels.

InstrumentSuggested Relative HumiditySuggested Temperature
Acoustic Guitar 45-55% 72-77° Fahrenheit
Piano 45-70% 68° Fahrenheit
Violin, Viola, Cello 40-50% 72-77° Fahrenheit
Banjo 40% 72-77° Fahrenheit
Mandolin 40-50% 72-77° Fahrenheit

December 10, 2017
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