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We understand that an acoustic guitar must be kept in around 40%-60% humidity levels. As lower humidity levels cause the guitar wood to dry out and shrink, which can lead to cracks in the guitar. Also, it can result in shrinking fingerboards and fret buzz. Conversely, high humidity levels can cause the guitar to absorb more and more moisture, therefore expand and bulge. But--what about temperature?

What temperature levels should an acoustic guitar be kept in? How does high temperature levels affect acoustic guitar? How does low temperature levels affect acoustic guitar? What are the tell-tale signs of a guitar being affected by high/low temperatures?

P.S. I'm asking because where I live the temperature is at around 30 to 40 Celsius during summers and around 20 to 25 Celsius in the winters. And at the moment I'm worried about the warm temperatures I'm in, since it's the summers presently. I would most sincerely appreciate a comprehensive answer.

  • Is this a classical guitar with fixed neck or steel-stringed with adjustable neck? If the latter you can adjust the truss-rod to allow for seasonal changes. – chasly - supports Monica Jul 4 at 20:41
  • It's a steel-stringed acoustic with adjustable neck, it's Epiphone's dove pro. Could you elaborate more on adjusting truss rod for seasonal changes? – Shahzad Rahim Jul 7 at 6:12
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As long as you don't leave the guitar under the sun, or near radiators in the winter, or in front of air conditioners in the summer, the guitar will be just fine.

Even delicate instruments such as violins have survived intact for centuries, going through countless Russian winters and Italian Summers, in places that had less ability to control temperature and humidity than we do nowadays.

Regarding temperature specifically, experience shows that it is the rapid back and forth change between different temperatures that may cause problems. In other words, if a guitar stays indefinitely at either 10 Celsius or 30 Celsius, it will be fine for decades, if not centuries. But if the same instrument is subjected to several changes back and forth between the same 10 and 30 degrees, e.g. several times a day, then I think that after a few months or a few years, depending on the woods, the glues, the construction, you may start to see some warping or other forms of damage.

But if you pay just a little attention and avoid those extremes, the guitar will be fine.

For example, I've kept cheap acoustic and classical guitars in unheated weekend houses with sub-zero winters and 30s summers for years and years, without seeing major damage. After all, humanity has been building these instruments for centuries, and we have learned how to make them resistant enough to typical conditions.

Regarding humidity, on the other hand, prolonged exposure to either extremes cannot be good. Wood's own internal humidity will change according to the environment. High humidity in particular may damage an instrument fairly quickly. For that reason you'll usually find desiccant pellets in the packaging of new instruments -- even though they are packaged in plastic, new instruments may spend a few days or weeks in containers aboard a ship or in ports, in potentially high humidity conditions.

So, if you have to leave a valuable instrument for a long time in a place with a high humidity level, then you may want to use a hard case with a desiccant packet in it. But if the environment is an average one, there's nothing to worry from this point of view, I've had guitars, mandolins, sitars, and other delicate instruments all around me for decades without any problems from this point of view.

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  • What are your thoughts on humidity? Do you think what you stated applies the same to levels of humidity? What do you think of the 40 to 60 rule? – Shahzad Rahim Jul 4 at 9:04
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    I've added a bit about humidity -- any average humidity is fine, I find that only prolonged extremely high humidity (near or with condensation) may cause significant problems. – MMazzon Jul 4 at 9:29
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    @Shahzad - Yes, by average conditions I mean the same everyday conditions in which you live. If you're reasonably comfortable in your house, your guitar will be fine there, too. O the other hand, for example, a damp cellar where mold grows would not be a good place to store a delicate instrument. – MMazzon Jul 7 at 10:14
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    There is one area where absolute temperature can damage an instrument: High heat can soften any hide glues used to make an instrument, and could cause joints to fail over time. Set neck guitars often have the neck glued on using hide glue because the neck can be removed and reset by injecting steam into the neck joint. – Todd Wilcox Jul 8 at 5:21
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    Pianos have massive metal frames that aren't much subject to temperature changes. In the case of high humidity, the wooden parts of the piano may suffer in the long run. But in general I'd say a piano is somewhat less sensitive to temperature changes compared to an acoustic guitar – MMazzon Oct 9 at 14:17

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