Guitar Care

Tips for keeping your collection in top form


In the thirty-plus years we’ve been building fine acoustic guitars, we’ve learned there are really two main errors when it comes to thinking about your guitar’s environment:

1) Not paying any attention to your guitar’s environment and thinking the instrument will somehow just be alright. It won’t. 

2) Continually worrying about your guitar’s environment so you’re no longer able to enjoy your experience with a world-class instrument. 

We want your guitar to have a long, happy life — without adding stress to your life. So, here are our time-tested, worry-free ideas to help you control the environment around your instrument.

Buy a Hygrometer (or Two!)

The key to genuine peace of mind requires a short introduction to the concept of “Relative Humidity.” For this, you’ll want to buy a special measuring device called a hygrometer. We recommend AcuRite’s 01080M Pro Accuracy Temperature and Humidity Gauge. In fact, we recommend buying two so you’ll have an easy time spotting device malfunctions or errors.

Keep Your Guitar in the Humidity “Safe Zone”

There are four basic tips we’ve worked out to maintain an ideal environment around any guitar:

  1. Generally, your guitar likes the same environment you do.
    If you are comfortable, so is your guitar. If you are uncomfortable sitting in hot, dry weather, or muggy weather, so is your guitar. Taking steps to control your comfort level can help improve your instrument’s environment too.

  2. Have at least two high-quality digital hygrometers in the room where your guitar is stored.
    Hygrometers measure the relative humidity in the environment. Having two devices on hand will help you spot device malfunctions or errors. Your aim should be to keep your guitar in the “safe zone” for most of the time, between 40-50% Relative Humidity.

  3. Place some low-maintenance potted plants in the room with your guitar.
    When the air gets dry, the plants and their soil will actually help reintroduce moisture to the air. This deceptively simple arrangement can help protect against dry, low-humidity conditions, which are much more dangerous for your instrument than high humidity.

  4. Keep your guitar in its case when you’re not playing it.
    If you’re having trouble keeping your guitar’s storage space in the “safe zone,” between 40-50% Relative Humidity, simply keep your guitar in its case. The case interior will help normalize dynamic swings in environmental humidity. This will be sufficient to take care of your instrument during short periods of extremes in Relative Humidity. 

Please contact us if you’re having trouble keeping your guitar’s environment in the “safe zone” most of the time. We’re committed to helping keep your Ryan guitar in top form.

Know How “Relative Humidity” Numbers Impact Your Guitar

Here’s a quick rundown of how your guitar will likely be impacted by humid seasons and environments.

45% - PERFECT

50% - OK

55% - Not too bad

60% - Still sort of OK

65% - A little too humid. But don’t panic. 

70% - A little too humid. You might experience some wood movement and the soundboard may start to “belly out”.

75% - Too humid. If these conditions persist for more than a week, you’ll certainly start to notice the soundboard move.

80% - Too humid. The soundboard movement will be severe enough to affect the action of the strings over the frets.

85% - Too humid. The wood is beginning to swell with moisture. This isn’t good.

90% - Far too humid for your instrument. The action of the strings will be very high. 

95% - Downright dangerous for your instrument. The glue joints are compromised and the thin wood plates are highly stressed and buckling due to their swollen condition.

100% - You really shouldn’t be playing your guitar out in the rain.

Here’s a quick rundown of how your guitar will likely be impacted by dry seasons and environments.

45% - PERFECT

40% - OK

35% - Time to start humidifying your guitar. The soundboard is starting to dry out — and “sink” in. We recommend D’Addario’s Planet Waves humidifier.

30% - Humidify your guitar as soon as possible. The action will start to get low. It’s possible the fretboard will have shrunk back due to moisture loss so you may even start to feel the ends of the frets extend beyond the edge of the fretboard. Install a humidifier when you are not playing the instrument. And, if possible, humidify the room where you store the instrument.

25% - Take corrective action now. Use a guitar humidifier and return the guitar to its case until dry conditions improve. Frets will be slightly hanging over the edge of the fretboard by now and cracks may start to appear.

20% - Danger. Huge stresses are building up in the plates of the instrument. You’ll notice cracks in the wood. The soundboard is sunk in. You’ll have string buzzes.

15% - You’ll need a good luthier to help put the instrument back together.

10% - You’ll need a really good luthier to help put the instrument back together.

5% - It’s over.


Have questions or comments about our humidity control tips? Contact us!