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Heating On? Time To Humidify!

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Another reminder that the change of seasons can mean lower house humidity. Concertinas prefer relative humidity in the 50-60% range. While it is possible for them to gradually adjust to drier climates, fairly quick drops in humidity can lead to problems: Reeds loose in slots; slipping or loose corner blocks; and in extreme cases can result in cracked sound boards; checking in fret work veneer.


It has been a relatively warm November so far in Kentucky but today I will plug in a small, room humidifier to keep the project room and concertina closet at a good relative humidity.


In case humidifiers can help. Here is one recommendation: http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=18237 I've heard some violinist recommend an Arion case humidifier. If you go this route you can do an internet search and find one best for you.


Think about it, whenever we play our concertinas in a humidity deficient environment we are "kiln drying" them. :wacko: (Well, pumping dry air across wood and wicking away moisture might be a more accurate description. ;) ) If you have a small room in the house to humidify or a plant room you may want to treat your concertina (and yourself) to some playing time there.


One caveat: You probably do not want to start playing a cold concertina in a warm, moisture rich room. There is a chance of condensation forming on cold metal reeds. :mellow: (No, I've never taken apart my concertina to check if this indeed happens, but science says its possible.


Perhaps a good idea to get to the pub or session early, open your case and let the instrument acclimate while you have your favorite libation and renew acquaintances. ;)







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Anyone know where to get these in the UK? I failed to find a source last year, and I have just

failed again...




I'd doubt most people in the UK would need a humidifier for their instrument. Many vintage concertinas has survived well for 80- 150 years without help. Modern houses with double glazing and central heating may well create lower humidity values but not quite like those experienced by some of our North American residents.


Still, you should be able to find some humidifing devices at Violin family specialists.

Edited by Geoff Wooff
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Just keeping the house at or below 20 deg C worked fine in England, where average conditions outside tend to be +5 C and 90% relative humidity in winter, which puts the inside humidity at 20 C to about 35%. Daily activities such as showering and cooking drive the inside humidity a bit higher, so 45% isn't difficult to achieve without help.


But where I am now the outside conditions in winter average -10 C and 75% relative humidity in winter, which puts the the inside conditions at 20 C in the range of only 10% relative humidity. Again, daily activities will run the indoor humidity a bit higher, but I regularly measured near 20% last January and February. Forced air heating doesn't help either! The dry air causes skin and nasal passages to dry out, not just wood insturments. So I run a humidifier in one bedroom of the house, where my instruments are kept. Just about time to start running that again. I also keep a cup of water inside the cabinet of the piano.

Edited by Tradewinds Ted
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Amazon offers a wide selection of instrumetn humidifiers. There's also the dampit, which may or may not suit the concertina.


Personally, I run a de-humidifier to keep the mould off my instruments. I have lived in locations that needed winter humidifying at times though.


Hm! Wish I'd thought to enter 'instrument humidifiers' in the Amazon search box, rather than just 'humidifiers'!


Thank you - sorted!


One or two of these devices look suspiciously like the 'home-brew' humidifier I cobbled up out of a small plastic

tub with 5 holes drilled in the lid, and a moistened sponge inside...


Thanks for all the other helpful input, particularly the point that such a device may not be needed in the less

dried out room spaces in the UK - hadn't clocked that one..



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  • 2 weeks later...

A word of caution on this topic.


I have a friend that purchased a Dipper County Clare from someone that kept a "humidifier" in the case with the instrument. I think it was a bit of sponge inside a vented plastic case. We don't know the details of how the prior owner maintained the humidifier but we are under the impression that he soaked the water retaining element before placing it in the case, didn't monitor the humidy levels that resulted, and left the concertina in the closed case for months at a time. When my friend removed the end plates to inspect the interior he found that most of the internal metal surfaces were heavily coated with a white powdery substance that appeared to be some kind of corrosion.


There is no doubt that keeping a concertina within a certain humidy range is important, but it is also important to monitor to be sure of the actual levels and not subject the instrument to long sustained periods of very high humidity.

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