Humidity and your Ukulele
Temperature and humidity can have a large impact on your ukulele's tuning. Too much or too little moisture will warp the thin wood of your ukulele, making it difficult to tune. Eventually, inappropriate levels of humidity will lead to cracks or may even cause the instrument to break or snap.
The optimum level of humidity for a ukulele is between 45% and 55%. Generally, dry air poses a more frequent and damaging risk to the instrument. When the humidity drops below the optimum range, the wood of your ukulele beings to bleed moisture, leading to shrinkage and cracking. Luckily, there are some easy steps and tools you can use to protect your instrument from damage.
Storage: Keep your ukulele in its case when it's not in use. Never store your ukulele by a fireplace, heater, oven, radiator, in a car, or in direct sunlight. These will dry-out and prematurely age your ukulele.
Care: Wipe down your ukulele with a soft cloth after use, and polish it every month or so. Using a very soft cloth and guitar or ukulele polish will ensure your instrument maintains its natural oils. Cleaning removes sweat and dust, both of which work to corrode your instrument's polish and wood, increasing the likelihood that your ukulele will dry out. Use products that are designed for the specific parts and materials of your ukulele.
Note: Make sure you use non-corrosive materials for your ukulele cleaning! Never use rough cloths or household cleaners.
Indoor Humidifiers: If you live in a dry environment and are fortunate enough to have a dedicated music room or other enclosed space for your ukulele jam sessions, a simple room humidifier will work well for you. These come in a wide variety of prices and types. If they humidifier does not include a gauge, you may also wish to purchase a gauge or meter in conjunction with it.
Instrument Humidifiers: While a normal humidifier will help protect your instrument, it's a large and sometimes imprecise method of ensuring your small ukulele's safety. If an indoor humidifier is an axe, then an instrument humidifier is a scalpel. Instrument humidifiers are the surest way to know your ukulele is getting the proper amount of moisture. These nifty tools are filled with water and typically sit either in your instrument orin your case to provide the optimum level of humidity. They generally cost between $10 and $25 and are a worthwhile investment to keep your instrument intune and to prolong its life.
Written by Caroline Gibson