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 Case hygrometers
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-01-22 02:07

What is available to indicate the relative humidity level inside a clarinet case? I've been experimenting with Humistat products, but I find the hygrometer readings unreliable - sitting 4 or 5 of them next to each other around a desk hygrometer produces varying readings. I don't imagine a difference of 4 or 5 percent would matter much, but these vary by as much as 15% (i.e. 38% - 53%), which I think probably matters if measuring the humidity matters at all when using humidifiers in the case.

My room humidity where I keep my instruments tends during the winter to be 35% - 40% even with a "whole-house" humidifier installed on our forced-air gas furnace. I think the instruments should be stored at higher humidity than that - I've gotten less-often used instruments out and found loose rings and sometimes even binding keys owing to shrinkage in the wood. But I'd really like to know what the level is when I put a humidifier like the Humistat untits or even Dampits in. I'd rather not wait until I find damp keys or standing water at one end of my case.

What is your experience with Humistat hygrometers? Are there better ones small enough to fit inside an Eb or Bb clarinet single case?

Is there a reliable hygrometer in a desktop size anyone can recommend that I can reliably use as a comparison standard to check the accuracy of the smaller ones?

Karl

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 Re: Case hygrometers
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2017-01-22 04:00

If you can spend the big bucks, the Lomax HumidiPro case is the way to go http://www.lomaxclassic.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=74.

The cases contain what looks like a small humidimeter, which a Google search shows at $10 and under. Perhaps Lomax or one of the users of his cases will tell you which make is good.

I've had little luck with Dampits, which don't hold enough water. For years, I've wetted and thoroughly wrung out two paper towels and laid them over the clarinets when I close the case. They hold enough moisture for overnight, but not enough to encourage mold.

Ed Palanker recommends keeping reeds in a humidifier. See his site for details.

Ken Shaw

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 Re: Case hygrometers
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-01-22 04:14

Thanks for the response, Ken. I'm not interested in humidifying reeds. Or in buying an entire case. But I agree with you that Dampits don't hold enough water when used correctly - as you describe, blotting them so they're only damp, not wet. Which is why I'm trying to use Humistat humidifiers. But they need to be set to regulate the rate of evaporation into the case.

I'm just concerned that the readings I'm getting from these Humistat gauges are not actually telling me anything.

Karl

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 Re: Case hygrometers
Author: bookron 2017
Date:   2017-01-22 05:13

How about Oasis humidifiers, made for guitars and mandolins and such? I've used them for 4 years now and am satisfied, although you have to refill them once a week or so (but it's very easy to tell when they need to be refilled).

Some of the Amazon reviewers complain about a leaking problem, but if you use them properly, that won't happen, because the water is absorbed into a gel that is too viscous to leak through the material.



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 Re: Case hygrometers
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-01-22 08:54

bookron wrote:

> How about Oasis humidifiers, made for guitars and mandolins and
> such? I've used them for 4 years now and am satisfied, although
> you have to refill them once a week or so (but it's very easy
> to tell when they need to be refilled).
>
> Some of the Amazon reviewers complain about a leaking problem,
> but if you use them properly, that won't happen, because the
> water is absorbed into a gel that is too viscous to leak
> through the material.
>

Thanks, although, again, my problem isn't with the Humistat humidifier, but with the Humistat hygrometer - the dial gauge that measures the humidity resulting (or not) from the evaporation from the humidifier. I will look into the Oasis humidifiers to compare them.

Karl

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 Re: Case hygrometers
Author: The Doctor 2017
Date:   2017-01-23 18:25

Buy a decent Hygrometer. The new small digital hygrometers can be very accurate. Look at them on the unnamed auction site. (BTW I sell an analog hygrometer). Any hygrometer should be calibrated. One way to verify the accuracy is to put the hygrometer into a Zip-Lock bag with a little bowl of saturated (with water) table salt solution for 24 hours and the Relative Humidity should read 70%. Of course with any analytic procedure the hygrometer may be somewhat more biased at higher or lower but not by much usually.

An important point to adding moisture to the environment of your instrument is to know what the relative humidity actually is and this requires a hygrometer to guide you. Otherwise, you may be adding too little or too much moisture.

L. Omar Henderson
www.Doctorsprod.com

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 Re: Case hygrometers
Author: bmcgar 2017
Date:   2017-01-23 19:35

Am I the only one on this BBD who thinks that keeping the case humidity significantly lower or higher than the ambient humidity is asking for trouble when you move an instrument in and out of the case? Seems so.

Yet as any woodworker knows, abruptly moving a piece of unsealed wood from a high humidity or high temperature environment to a low one, or the other way around, stresses the wood and encourages cracking. (One reason why green lumber is sealed on the ends to minimize rapid drying.)

Anyway, this is one of those perennial topics on the board, and I keep mentioning this...perennially. But everyone needs a hobby.

B. (who treats his clarinets gently)



Post Edited (2017-01-23 23:35)

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 Re: Case hygrometers
Author: bookron 2017
Date:   2017-01-24 05:45

I wonder, too, bmcgar, but after starting up on mandolin 5 years ago, I’ve read and listened to a lot of pickers, guitarists, and luthiers. They seem to encounter a lot of issues due to dryness, what with frets, necks, saddles, and all. And almost swear by the humidifiers. I would think that seasoned wood would require some time—as in days and weeks rather than hours--to be seriously affected by changes in humidity.

But I understand that I’m citing only anecdotal information.

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 Re: Case hygrometers
Author: bmcgar 2017
Date:   2017-01-24 07:24

Bookron, one big difference is that the wood used by in stringed instruments is much thinner, and as you point out, there are many "attached" components to stringed instruments made from different woods, metals, and sometimes synthetics. Therefore, adhesives and other joining methods are things that luthiers need to deal with, but not clarinet makers (by and large), and I'm guessing that that's what the advocacy of humidifiers comes from.

Most types of stringed instrument have many parts, and with grain running in different directions, such as the sides vs. the top and bottom of violins. Each part has to be able to expand and contract without compromising the integrity of the whole structure, and I suspect that this structural integrity is more dependent on the various forces working on the parts as they are adhered to the rest of the instrument and as they interact in the instrument rather than on the moisture content of each.

I admit that my own opinion on humidifying clarinets has been extrapolated from my experience as a woodworker, and that I've never seen an instrument crack for reasons that I could definitely attribute to moisture "shock" -- though I have seen clarinets crack from temperature shock. But I certainly don't know squat about stringed instruments, so bear with my guess.

Anyway, for clarinets, the first question is, "does it do harm?" I think it might, and I avoid it.

The second question is, "does it do any good?" I'm not convinced that it does.

Anecdotally, of all the accomplished clarinetists and pros I've known in my nearly 60 years of playing, I've only known one who humidifies (with orange peel), and he does that to keep his skin pads from shrinking and coming loose, not to avoid cracking.

B.

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 Re: Case hygrometers
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-01-24 07:59

bmcgar wrote:

> I admit that my own opinion on humidifying clarinets has been
> extrapolated from my experience as a woodworker, and that I've
> never seen an instrument crack for reasons that I could
> definitely attribute to moisture "shock" -- though I have seen
> clarinets crack from temperature shock.

Taking an instrument from an area of higher humidity to one of lower humidity won't suddenly change the moisture content of the wood, and the changes in dimensions that result from drying or humidifying a clarinet don't happen quickly. The expansion of wood from blowing warm air into a cold clarinet happens much more quickly and from the inside out, causing sudden stress against the outer wood. I don't know what kind of wood you saw crack from moisture "shock" or to what dimensions it had been milled. The properties of the wood you worked with may not have been comparable.

>
> The second question is, "does it do any good?" I'm not
> convinced that it does.
>

I can tell you from first-hand experience that I've picked up a seldom-played clarinet more than once and found that the rings were loose and a couple of keys were binding between their screw posts, and that leaving them in their closed case for several days with either Dampits (re-moistened as needed) or orange peels caused the rings to tighten and the keys to free up. It probably took some time for the shrinkage to develop (these were not clarinets I play regularly) and, as I say, the benefit took several days. I don't, BTW, humidify my everyday clarinets as a rule.

> Anecdotally, of all the accomplished clarinetists and pros I've
> known in my nearly 60 years of playing, I've only known one who
> humidifies (with orange peel), and he does that to keep his
> skin pads from shrinking and coming loose, not to avoid
> cracking.

I've known several players, first among my teachers and later among colleagues, who kept Dampits or orange peels in their cases. This wasn't done generally (nor do I humidify my clarinets) to avoid cracking, but to avoid the kind of mechanical shifting that I've described as the wood moves. Desiccated, shrinking pads might be another symptom - one I've never personally experienced, but it's possible.

If you've never had a problem, then there's no need to add humidity. But the loose rings that Jessica (jrain54) wrote about in "Silver bands are loose on clarinet.." are a classic symptom of the dryness that added humidity can cure. I would do that before I'd think about shimming rings (especially if more than one are loose).

Karl

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 Re: Case hygrometers
Author: bmcgar 2017
Date:   2017-01-24 18:51

Karl,

Yes, loose rings on clarinets that haven't been played for a while. But I've never, myself, seen key binding on properly maintained blackwood clarinets (rosewood, yes, but not blackwood). I was thinking of cracking, though.

Clarification: Looks as if you read that I HAVE seen cracking from moisture. Nope, couldn't say that I have, and certainly couldn't attribute any cracking to moisture fluctuations over and above other factors.

My main point is that humidification, as far as cracks go, PROBABLY is unnecessary and MAY cause problems, and obsessing about this and going to great lengths and expense to control humidity is probably a waste of time and money.

(If I recall correctly, someone actually posted on this BBD some time ago that it would be nice if a case would be invented that would monitor and closely control humidity and temperature, and circulate air inside the case! Can you imagine what that would cost!)

B.

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 Re: Case hygrometers
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-01-24 19:07

bmcgar wrote:

> Karl,
>
> Yes, loose rings on clarinets that haven't been played for a
> while. But I've never, myself, seen key binding on properly
> maintained blackwood clarinets (rosewood, yes, but not
> blackwood). I was thinking of cracking, though.
>

As a matter of fact, the binding keys were on a "rosewood" clarinet. It happened twice.

> My main point is that humidification, as far as cracks go,
> PROBABLY is unnecessary and MAY cause problems, and obsessing
> about this and going to great lengths and expense to control
> humidity is probably a waste of time and money.
>
As far as cracking goes, I agree completely based on my own experience. I don't oil my clarinets' bores, either, which is far more against the norm here on the BB than humidification is. :)

> (If I recall correctly, someone actually posted on this BBD
> some time ago that it would be nice if a case would be invented
> that would monitor and closely control humidity and
> temperature, and circulate air inside the case! Can you imagine
> what that would cost!)
>

Ken mentioned one - the Lomax HumidPro line - in his post to this thread, so we don't so much have to imagine what it would cost. :)

Karl

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 Re: Case hygrometers
Author: Slowoldman 
Date:   2017-01-24 20:20

Perhaps the smaller one of these would fit in your case?? (The round one)

http://www.bovedainc.com/store/tobacco/hygrometers/#

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 Re: Case hygrometers
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2017-01-25 01:40

Thanks, Steve. I'll check it out.

Karl

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 Re: Case hygrometers
Author: spacecadet 
Date:   2018-01-21 23:07

at what percentage should the hygrometer read?

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 Re: Case hygrometers
Author: Geronimo 
Date:   2018-01-25 04:37

I use the Boveda 2 humidity packs to regulate the humidity in my case. Got the idea from Sean Perrin

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 Re: Case hygrometers
Author: Geronimo 
Date:   2018-01-25 04:40

I use the Boveda 2 humidity packs to regulate the humidity in my case. Got the idea from Sean Perrin.

As for reading the humidity levels Michael lowenstern sells some really compact ones on his website.

Boveda also just came up with a really high-tech solution, a device that reads/records temperature and humidity levels and can notify you if the instrument goes into extremes of either situation. Again, available on their website. Haven't tried it but it's on my to do list.

-GM

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 Re: Case hygrometers
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2018-01-25 06:00

Do you know the case humidity is what the humidipack says it's supposed to maintain? I would think you still need a hygrometer to show whether or not the Boveda pack is doing what you think it is.

The hygrometers I finally settled on (this is a year-old thread) can be adjusted, and I use (per the instructions that came with ne of them) the Boveda packs, sealed in a plastic bag with the hygrometer, to determine how much the meter needs to be recalibrated right or left. Once calibrated, the hygrometer can be left out in the case.

Or, at least, that's what I did for a few months. I didn't find that my 40+-year-old clarinets cared much what the humidity in the case is. It didn't seem to matter.

Karl

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 Re: Case hygrometers
Author: DavidBlumberg 
Date:   2018-01-26 00:45

I have talked intensively with Mike Lomax about it.

It takes a while for the Clarinet to dry out, or even feel the ambient dryness. It is NOT immediate. However, if the Clarinet is quite dry, that can push it over the edge to crack. The case as well needs to be humidified, so having a good humidity device can make a big difference to your Clarinet not cracking, or having loose rings.

http://www.MyTempoMusic.com

http://www.skypeclarinetlessons.com/about.html


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 Re: Case hygrometers
Author: Sean.Perrin 
Date:   2018-02-16 08:26

Thanks for the mention Geronimo.

I use this for a Hygrometer. It was very cheap, fits nicely in the case, and has showed that by Boveda packs work perfectly at 49%. Which % are you using?

https://www.amazon.ca/Quality-Importers-4-Inch-Hygrometer-Humidors/dp/B0007VWEQA/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1518754979&sr=8-7&keywords=hygrometer

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