I have both an openback banjo and a vintage resonator banjo. Just wondering if any of the Hangout members humidify their instruments. And if so do you have any tips or recommendations?
I only have wall hangers, both modern and vintage banjos. Never had any issues during the last years. IMO humidifying is only for guitars.
@pfalzgrass Thank-you for your reply. The other thing I was wondering about is hanging a resonator banjo a good idea? They are heavy suckers for sure.
I know some don’t like the idea. I even hang heavy archtops. Of course the hanger must be carefully mounted and you assure that the banjo hangs correct before releasing it. Only disadvantage of wall hangers is the dust - great advantage is you see what you have and more often switch between the banjos.
Hi Gordon. If one of them has a skin head, adding humidity is not helpful
Edited by - Billybilt Banjo on 09/26/2022 11:00:59
Stewmac has these great new knockoffs of the planet wave imports
I have half a dozen of them
Humidify in the case
If you’re serious, you humidify the room
hanging is ok
Edited by - Helix on 09/26/2022 11:14:27
I have 3 banjos and live in hot, dry West Texas. I've never humidified any of them, not my Stelling or my Small or my cheap, entry level one. I've never had a problem, regardless of the weather. I've had at least one of those banjos for 30 plus years, the other 2 for over 20.
The only time I've seen a problem with hot weather is coming from inside an air conditioned building to out in the hot, dry sunshine. That will tend to detune your strings immediately. Sometimes you can actually hear them detune! So, if you have to go from one condition to the other, put your banjo in its case and let it slowly acclimate to the weather conditions.
@Billybilt Banjo Thank-you, makes sense with humidity it becomes impossible to keep tuned. I bought a drum dial and that seems to keep me on track. I was just wanting to keep the wood and finish healthy.
@Texasbanjo Thank-you that's good to know. The vintage banjo I recently acquired is at least 30 years old and look's new and unplayed. Must have sat in a case the whole time. So perhaps I will just forget this worry about humidifying my case.
I occasionally spill a beer in the case, but that's about it. I have never had a problem with an instrument that was caused by humidity. I know some people say they have, but I haven't. I live in a 122 year old house that has forced air heating. It has a humidifier but it still gets pretty dry in the winter. I've had a few calfskin heads split over the years, but they were old and in poor shape. I've never had a crack develop in a guitar and I've had some pretty old ones. I would think that dramatic changes in humidity would have more of an effect. I have one friend who took a newly finished mandolin from Kentucky to New Mexico and the top split.
I never humidity and live in Midwest. I hang my deering,gibson, and Stelling. I did by some heavy gauge L brackets from HW store to take some of the weight from hook. With hook only it tended to stretch the strings so they were usually tuned flat coming off the wall. The L bracket fixed that. I glued to carpet scraps on the top of bracket.
I have never humidified any of the 25+ banjos I have owned. I live in 4 season country in the northeast US.
In the distant past I did terrible damage to a nice Wildwood banjo and a nice Martin guitar because I didn't properly humidify them while living in a house with forced air heat that put the humidity at about 15% to 20% in winter. My repair guy was really annoyed at me, gave me a serious lecture about humidification, and made me promise to be more diligent about humidification. Now I humidify the room where we keep our instruments so that it stays at at least 45% to 50%. When I can't humidify the room I use case humidifiers.
The good news is that none of this has to be too difficult or expensive. I run a cool air humidifier in the room - a simple machine that I got at the local hardware store. And when I need to use case humidification I use simple plastic soap containers into which I've drilled a lot of holes, and then I put in a damp sponge and put it in the case. Some folks use pieces of potato to keep it humid in case. My son successfully uses a piece of apple. Our there are lots of commercial humidification devices and systems available, some of them very sophisticated. Any good acoustic instrument store will have them for sale.
Especially if you live in a cold area (I live in Vermont) and most especially if you heat with forced air or wood, humidification is crucial, more so for soundbox instruments (guitar, fiddle, mandolin) than banjos, but still very important for banjos too. And if you happen to have a decent piano be sure to include that in your humidification plans.
@calicoplayer Thank-you for your reply. I live in Canada and we have hot humid summers and winter to minus 40 and sometimes very dry conditions. And with the climate crisis who knows what to expect. Everyone seems to have an opinion on this one and some have had instruments for 50 years and had no trouble. I play my banjo everyday and will just keep an eye out for any changes in it's performance and go from there. Regards.
It gets reasonably cold [-40 give-or-take, once or twice a winter, give or take] here in [otherwise] beautiful west-central Man-ee-toe-bah. We switched from electric forced air furnace to nat. gas maybe about 6 years ago. During the winter, I run a DEhumidifier [w/humidistat] ... keeps humidity down to 38-40ish %.... for our windows,* not my banjos. At that humidity, condensation on the windows is minimal.
* = I generally ascribe to the KISS principle; my banjos are on their own.
I went back East and came back with a banjo that had been in a closet in its case for 24 years, and had not been played.
No issues at all.
@OldNavyGuy Isn't it amazing how many people buy expensive banjos and then never play them. Rarely even take them out of the case at all. I just purchased a 30 year old banjo that has zero fret wear. It looks brand new. Crazy.
Many years ago, when I visited a music store in Fort Collins, Colorado, I noticed a big clock like meter on the wall. However, it was a humidity meter. The owner told me that he never let the humidity get below 35%. This is in a state where the humidity is often 15% or less. I did use a humidifier in my guitar case when I lived in Colorado in the 1960s. However, since I moved back east, I stopped using one (I don't live with air conditioning and my dehumidifiers keep the house about 65%. In the winter, I have seen the humidity get close to 35% on rare occasions). Too low humidity effects wood which could include banjo necks and pots.
I have a good number of instruments. I also live in PA. Tends to be a bit humid. Never did anything to change the case environment and all instruments have been fine in over the five decades of collecting.
In the instances that I have traveled to a very dry area with an instrument, I just take a large, clean potato, cut it in half, and drop it in the case compartment. Works perfectly.
I got a whole house humidifier and it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. Not only does it keep the instruments humidified, it makes the house feel warmer at lower temperatures and it eliminates static shocks.
We had a very dry / arid spell (15-20% humidity) in the early fall in northern California about 5-6 years ago that lasted about 7-8 days. I had a banjo and a banjeurine both pop their calfskin heads the same day during that time. My fault, they were hanging from wall hangers in my office and running the skins pretty tight. I generally do not have big rapid swings in humidity where I live. Just slacking off on the tension during that arid spell would have saved them but,….. live and learn!
All my guitars now have a humidifiers in them now and I have hygrometers where I keep my instruments.
Edited by - Dogfeathers on 10/02/2022 18:17:09
I know of no acoustic guitar that is lacquered on the inside.
All my banjos are finished inside and out. I think that may be why fewer people have humidity problems with them.
In Arizona during the monsoons like now, the humidity swings from 60% to 17% many times during the same day.
I try not to take stupid chances with fine machinery.
This always depends on the conditions where you live. Your specific climate where you live will not be the same as someone else's. Some don't have to humidify because they live in a relatively humid climate that stays pretty stable. Others live in the desert and have to humidify or risk a crack due to dryness. My advice would be to buy a cheap hydrometer on Amazon and monitor your specific conditions where you keep your instrument over time. The biggest culprit in terms of cracks and damage is going from really humid (60+ percent) to really dry (20-15 percent) and vice versa. This causes the wood to swell and then shrink back and forth, and in those circumstances you're very likely to see damage. The best conditions for stringed instruments is 40-50 percent humidity. So if your environment sticks around those percentages naturally, then you don't have to worry. The biggest thing is consistency. Hope this helps.
I live on the end of a 15 mile-long peninsula and get all the humidity I can stand from the Gulf of Maine.
'WTB Elliott Capo' 5 hrs
'Dumping Day 2022' 6 hrs