Anyone in the repair world use a digital moisture content meter to gauge the dryness of a guitar? Obviously guitars show you when they're dry with fret ends, collapsed tops, cracks, etc. but we're considering using a meter if for no other reason than to have something quantifiable to show customers. ('It came in at X%, it's going home at Y%') Any recommendations?
And what case humidifiers do you like? Humidipak doesn't last long enough; Oasis works great as long as you fill it every week. We've pretty much narrowed our recommendations to those two but would love to hear about any others. (We're done with Dampits, sponge humidifiers,etc.)
As far as I know.
-Wood moisture meters require you to stick two pins into the timber
-They do not work accurately on thin timber
Both these to me mean that this would not be a good idea..
Charlie, my experience with humidity issues is from my considerable time in Denver and Detroit—we have relatively nothing to discuss in California, but my clients are from all over the place, and I've lived and worked in places with fierce dryness in winter. Heck, Denver is dry all year round.
Case humidification is spot humidification. The instrument goes through a rollercoaster of situations every time it's taken out to be played. Surely you don't keep all the instruments in your shop in their humidified cases. Room humidifiers only fail if the humans attending them fail, and it seems Gary Fried has solved even that, by having the humidifier attached to an ice machine supply. I really believe that the window condensation is a clear indication that you are getting results with your room humidification.
Spot humidification is certainly better than none, but doesn't begin to compare with humidifying the entire environment. It's better for general human health as well.
Thanks for all the responses everyone. It appears we've employed a hybrid of everything that was mentioned here over the years. Currently we have a furnace unit that keeps the shop around 55-60% and use toothbrush tube humidifiers with especially dried out instruments. We sell Oasis and Humidipak but know they are only as effective as the person who maintains them. That recipe seems to be 99 point something effective in our 12+ years. We mostly are looking for the right system to sell our customers to best maintain the work we've done. Whatever the ideal way to do it, I think all we can do is sell the case humidifiers with warnings that that Chicago is just a tough place to keep a nice guitar healthy. Plan on coming back to see us in a few months.
I think Charlie has settled into the same perspective we have - give them all the information you can, and hope some of them do it - even if you know most of them won't. I think we'll start putting the written notice in with repaired acoustics too.
We joke that we're like dentists that can tell who really flossed and who didn't. A top that cracks again = someone who didn't learn after that first root canal!