How my guitars handled The Great Texas Freeze of 2021
It was not fun to deal with this. At all.
Last month (February 2021), the state had record breaking cold that was some of the worst ever experienced in The Lone Star State.
Did my guitars handle the cold weather? Yes, because the temperature inside didn't change all that much.
It was after the freeze where the guitars did something that I knew would happen but was still a bit crazy.
During the bitter cold, the humidity dropped down to basically nothing. Extremely dry air.
After the bitter cold, what happened? The temperature punched up, and carried with it a rainstorm that lasted several hours.
This means the weather changed from bitter cold and ultra-dry air straight up to room temperature (about 70F/21C) and ultra-wet air very rapidly.
What happened with the guitars is that the neck relief went way out of adjustment. I would pick up a guitar and there was string buzzing so bad that it felt like it was broken beyond repair.
There was only one thing I could do. Wait. I had to wait until the rain passed, humidity stabilized and the neck wood had a chance to settle. So I did.
I waited a day after the rain had passed, then had to go through a round of adjustments, both for the truss rod and string saddles. The guitars play fine now.
If I had a humidifier, this wouldn't have happened
The ideal humidity for guitars is 45% to 55%, with the goal of trying to get 50% as best you can. However, this is mainly for acoustic guitars and not electric.
What happened with my electrics was the result a wild weather event. The humidity had such a rapid shift from dry to wet that even the neck woods on my solid-body electrics just went nuts.
Woods on electric guitar necks can handle a periodic dip below 45% or above 55% and recover without need for neck adjustment. But when you go from basically 0% to 100% so quick and then back down to the middle again, that's a different story. It was like a roller coaster of humidity going on.
Had I a humidifier, then the room would have stayed at around 50% humidity and no adjustments would have been required.
Whether to get a humidifier or dehumidifer depends on where you are
Again, the goal is to keep the room humidity as close to 50% as you can.
If I were back living in Florida again, I would do the exact opposite and get a dehumidifier since the issue is very wet air and not dry.
The easiest way to tell if you need something to control the air humidity where you keep your guitars is to get a cheap hygrometer. These are as cheap as 8 bucks. It's a little battery powered device that tells you two things. Current room temperature and current humidity.
Are these things accurate? Mostly. It's fair to say they are accurate enough. Just put it somewhere in the room where it's away from a window and not exposed to sun (if sun is shining on it, the reading will be inaccurate), and you'll get the readings you need.
If the humidity is routinely below 45%, get a humidifier. If the humidity is routinely above 55%, get a dehumidifier.
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