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robert stewart

Humidification packs for instruments

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Does anyone have experience using humidification gel packs for keeping a concertina stable? They are usually used

for other wooden instruments (which also have, of course, metal parts). Typical example here:

https://www.daddario.com/products/accessories/humidification/automatic-humidipak/

 

What is interesting with these is that they are supposedly to keep a stable humidity of 40-45% inside a case. If humidity is high

they draw it in. If low, they emit some humidity. Here in the northern panhandle of West Virginia humidity rises high, then suddenly drops low,

often within a very short time. Depends on....everything.

 

Robert

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My cases both have accessory pockets, so I use the D’addario small instrument humidifier with a small sponge that I dampen. I also use their Humiditrak. With its app it tells me temperature and humidity inside the case. Also has a setting for shock sensor. Because I never check my concertinas I don’t that feature. You can browse by hourly, daily or monthly history as well as current. I have set alarms if temperature extremes occur ( think in the trunk of a car ). My humidity is always 50-55%

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Is it possible to check and calibrate the Humiditrak?

 

 

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I don't believe so. It is connected to th phone via bluetooth, and no calibration option listed. Only set points for low and high.

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Such a thing was suggested to me by a chemist about 25 years ago.  I expect they would work fine as long as their capacity wasn’t being challenged by leaving the case open for long periods in high humidity or low.  Changing humidity is often more of a problem than  keeping a moderate level.  Thin wood dries at a much faster rate than it can reabsorb moisture.  For things like violins, this can cause playing problems and become balky until the wood stabilizes somewhat.  Concertinas aren’t as vulnerable, but cracks or loose reed shoes ( or jammed ones ) can result over a period of days from prolonged exposure to a very dry or humid environment.  45 to 50 % RH is a good middle ground, and I think would make a happy home for your box.

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Here's my high-tech solution to the problem. Would drilling more holes in the top add Bluetooth capability?

 

P_20200115_055854.thumb.jpg.b8201659210caf9f3dedbcb3d759ab3a.jpg

Edited by lachenal74693

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I have not spotted how these gel packs work, if the are to keep humanity stable, they need to be able to add and remove moisture. The other thought is that most of the old instruments were made in the UK,  our humidity is a lot damper  than 45%,  65% is more the norm.

 

Dave 

 

 

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On 1/15/2020 at 7:45 PM, d.elliott said:

The other thought is that most of the old instruments were made in the UK,  our humidity is a lot damper  than 45%,  65% is more the norm.

It is no longer a question but an established fact that many aspects of any specific culture are determined more by the climate than by the ethnicity, religion or political structure of its people. And the concertina is very much a part of British Isles culture.

Cheers,

John

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John, 

 

what on earth are you talking about?  I am talking about humidity, people are trying to maintain instruments at 45% RH, I am pointing out that the concertinas were made in the UK where the humidity is far higher. Nothing to do with cultural ethnicity. They should probably be be trying for, say,  65% to 80% RH to prevent shrinkage of woods.

 

I am afraid you have left me entirely puzzled, not that puzzlement is difficult to achieve in my situation.

 

 

Edited by d.elliott

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Dave,

 

Is this addressed in your maintenance manual?

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10 hours ago, d.elliott said:

They should probably be be trying for, say,  65% to 80% RH to prevent shrinkage of woods.

 

80% sounds high to me; if you over-humidify there's a risk of encouraging mould and rust. Note that temperature variation can cause a problem too, if you keep it in a room that is intermittently heated/cooled. Room heats up, relative humidity falls, humidifier gives out moisture into the air; room cools down, relative humidity rises, excess moisture condenses out of the air onto the instrument and the case lining.

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As I posted the original question, with a link to "Humidipaks" (which I did not invent, and do not promote, though I am trying them out with my instruments), I would like to add a couple of further thoughts. Firstly, as I come from Scotland and lived for years in England (for shame), I can confirm that the climate is just as damp as it probably was in the heyday of concertina making. So at least 50% humidity would be normal for much of the year, though less indoors with heating. As heating in the 19th and early 20th was mainly by coal fires and stoves (dry)  or gas (very moist), the concertina must be tolerant instrument. Here in West Virginia there are quite staggering daily variations in humidity, until summer when it is extremely high, or the dead of winter which is deadly dry.

 

The 40-45% up/down action of these strange goopy breathy gel packs keeps the humidity from dropping low enough in the case to cause damage to a musical instrument. It helps, in other words, when they are inside a case with the lid shut, to keep a workable minimum for protection. As soon as the concertina is out and standing or playing, the instrument is breathing the ambient humidity or lack of it. The worst thing would probably be to have a concertina, in a case for a period of time, where the humidity was locked in and could not reduce. Rust, mould, rot. But if we practice every day.....

 

best wishes, RJ

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17 hours ago, d.elliott said:

I am afraid you have left me entirely puzzled, not that puzzlement is difficult to achieve in my situation.

Dave,

you surely won't deny that the concertina is a piece of cultural heritag!. In its English and Anglo forms, of British cultural heritage. It was developed in an English-speaking monarchy - but that's not the reason why it is the way it is. It is the way it is because it was develped in a maritime climate with mild winters and temperate summers.

That's why, if people in other parts of the world wish to partake of this piece of British culture, they have to make an artificially British habitat for it. And that doesn't necessarily mean speaking English - it means creating a moist, temperate climate.

 

If the concertina had been invented and developed in Saudi Arabia, and we wanted to play one, we'd have to have a hot, dry room to keep it in ...

 

Cheers,

John

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John, 

I think I see where you are coming from, but the heritage aspect did not correlate with humidity, certainly not in my mind anyway. 

 

Robert, 

one of the products of combustion is water, open fires had windows running in water, single glazing being a primitive form of de-humidification. 

 

Alex,

it is 91% RH outside as I type this and 52% RH in the house. As you are aware wood shrinks with dryness, and glues fail. hence my concern about over de-humidification. I would hazard a guess that in Victorian times the RH would have been anywhere between 60% to 85% in a house, especially where there were large families all members of whom  had a tendency to breath out moisture, maybe coupled with alcohol fumes.  I certainly do agree that a stability in humidity is a good goal to strive for, and a temperature above dewpoint. 

 

Noel, 

I am sorry to say I did not include humidity protection in the manual, with my client base and my experience at the time it was not an issue to me., sorry.

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