If you have any wooden doors in your home, and live in a climate that experiences dramatic weather and humidity changes as the seasons cycle through, you have probably noticed how your doors change a little in size during winter months. They likely appear a little smaller against the doorframe than they would in warmer seasons, right? This has to do with humidity, as cold air holds less moisture, and the wood absorbs what’s available, causing it to shrink or swell based on season and temperature.
Most violins are made from wood, so humidity affects them similarly. For string players looking to give their best performance and protect the integrity of their instrument, it’s important to keep up with violin temperature control and it may even be necessary to keep a humidifier on hand.
Why Violin Temperature Control is Important
When violins get too dry, it’s common for them to go out of tune more quickly, and in extreme circumstances the instrument may even crack. Problems can arise when they get too humid as well. With too much humidity, the wood and the glue holding together your violin may swell, which can lead to cracking and busted seams. Sound quality is even negatively affected, and that’s assuming the violin itself isn’t damaged.
According to the Mayo Clinic, 30-50% humidity is the ideal relative humidity to aim for, both with regard to health and general comfort. So while it’s important to make sure humidity is up, you don’t want to go so far you risk the problems listed above. Plus, you don’t want to deal with mold growing in your instrument case. Not sure how to check humidity? Some violinists keep a hygrometer in their violin case. Most options don’t take up a lot of space and can be a good investment if humidity in your violin concerns you.
The Solution to Needing More Humidity
To protect your violin from a lack of humidity, a variety of violin humidifiers are available for purchase. Most options are easy to install and inexpensive. It’s common for them to work by putting the humidifiers into water, removing them and wiping the outside so they don’t leave a mess, and then insert them into the violin’s f holes. Some violin humidifiers can even be kept in your instrument case.
Violin humidifier maintenance is often as simple as refilling the humidifiers, as needed, and then removing them from the violin’s f holes during times that humidity is of no concern, or if there’s too much humidity in the area you are performing in.
Note that violin humidifiers should be replaced if at any time mold in the violin or the humidifier itself is a concern.
Keep in mind that humidity can negatively impact violin bow performance, too. Bow hair can shrink and expand with changing humidity, just like a violin, and no one wants to play with hair that’s stretched out. If you require rehairing, you can visit your trusted violin shop or luthier. CodaBow also offers rehairing and general maintenance services if you don’t want to use a local option.
More Resources From CodaBow
Pioneer of the carbon fiber violin bow, CodaBow is proud to share myriad resources with string instrument players. Check out the CodaBow blog for more helpful articles and information. The next time you’re in the market for a new bow, we invite you to explore our award-winning collection of carbon fiber bows that are designed for players of all skill levels.