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The Effects of Temperature on Your Instrument and Bow

The Effects of Temperature on Your Instrument and Bow

Wood is a porous material which is greatly influenced by environmental factors.  Wooden string instruments as well as bows are greatly affected by the environment. By taking the proper precautions, you can continue to make wonderful music and ensure your instrument lives a healthy life. 

Effects of Humidity on Your Instrument, and Your Bow

Wood absorbs what is in the air, including water.  Maintaining an adequate amount of humidity around your instrument is essential for protecting it against damage. During the winter months, the temperature lowers, causing less water to evaporate. When less water evaporates, the water content in the air is lower. The lack of humidity causes wood to have a lower water content and the wood loses mass, which can wreak havoc on your instrument. Just as your skin tends to get too dry and even crack in the cold dry weather, wood becomes brittle and susceptible to cracks and other related damage. Your beloved wooden instrument and bow can suffer serious damage, such as cracks, which can lower their value and be expensive to repair.   

During the heating season, many locations tend to be quite dry and you and your instrument will be more comfortable if you add humidity.  Placing a humidifier in your case and even in the room where you keep it and practice can help ensure that your instrument is protected against the dry air. 

While too little humidity is discussed in great detail when relating to instrument damages, too much moisture can also be dangerous. When there is too much moisture in the air, your instrument is absorbing too much water. This can cause the wood to swell, which in turn can open seams. Additionally, it can cause the bow to be very stiff, making it respond differently and make it difficult to play. 

Heat and Varnish

Wooden instruments are coated in varnish which, oftentimes, makes your instrument appear very beautiful. It serves as a barrier between the raw wood and the elements and serves to protect the instrument. Exposing varnish to heat can cause it to melt, and become sticky. Leaving your instrument by a heater or in direct sunlight can seriously damage your varnish. Moreover, it can also prove a mess to clean up, as it may melt off the instrument and onto the lining of the case.

Additionally, most importantly, you should never leave your instrument in a vehicle!  The temperature in a car may rise and fall very rapidly.  You could easily damage the varnish, seams could open, cracks could occur and strings could break.  Although it is convenient, the change in temperatures can cause serious damage.  

Cold Temperatures

Just as heat causes wood to expand, cold causes it to contract.  Exposing your instrument to a sudden drop in temperature could be detrimental. Changing an environment rapidly leaves the instrument no time to acclimate. This could result in wood expanding or contracting at an intense speed, which can open seams or cause cracks. If you need to take your instrument outdoors and ride in a cold car, try and arrive early at your destination to allow your instrument some time to acclimate, preferably its case, especially in extreme cold weather.  

Keeping your Instrument Happy

The good news is, there are precautions you can take to preserve your instrument and keep it in optimal condition. Using a humidifier and keeping your instrument indoors, away from windows and heaters, are both extremely important to protect your fine instrument.

The Boveda 2-way Humidity Control Kit is perfect for maintaining an ideal 45% to 55% humidity inside your instrument's case! Made for both Violin/Viola and Cello/Guitar, you can place the Boveda pack in your case and rest assured that your instrument is being maintained at an adequate humidity range throughout the year. 

The Boveda Humidity Control Kit not only humidifies, but also dehumidifies. If there is too much humidity in the case, it can lower the humidity percentage. Use the Boveda kit as well as avoid having your instrument outside for long periods of time in summer heat or winter cold will keep your instrument happy and help avoid expensive repairs. 

Article written by Erica Garcia

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