Instrument humidification, like music, is a delicate art. Musical instrument makers, repair technicians and musicians know how critical proper humidification is when it comes to caring for their instruments. Whether you’re collector or a professional musician, knowing how to protect and care for your wooden instrument will extend its longevity and performance.
Expensive and high valued wooden instruments like violins, cellos and basses are vulnerable to extreme changes in climate/environment. Changing from a dry climate to an exceptionally humid climate can have detrimental effects on the instrument.
Just like wooden furniture, when these instruments are exposed to too much humidity, they absorb moisture and expand. Swelling and warping can make it difficult to play and can sound out of tune. Another issue to be aware of is the glue used to carefully join wooden parts can dissolve.
While too much humidity is never an ideal situation for your instrument, a dry instrument is far worse than a moist one. When left in a dry environment, these precious wooden bodies lose moisture, becoming brittle and more susceptible to cracks. Finely constructed wooden instruments can shrink under these circumstances, leading to severe breaks due to the pulling nature of the strings on the shrunken body.
In order to understand how to maintain your instrument with proper humidification, you need to understand your environment. Under ideal conditions, the room you keep your instrument in should be kept around 40-55% relative humidity.
Air conditioners have a cooling and drying effect. They can be a great asset during hot and humid summer months, but can also dry the air out too much. Invest in a room humidifier that doesn’t operate on a force-moisture system, which can be dangerous for your instrument as they tend to over-saturate indoor air.
The Venta Airwasher is ideal for this type of humidification. Venta’s revolutionary Cold Evaporation process makes over-humidification impossible and therefore can be used year-round. The Venta system is a game changer in the way the room humidifiers can be used for instrument maintenance.
Many musicians and instrument collectors have turned to Venta for their humidifying needs. Andrew Hassel, a loyal Venta customer and the owner, repair technician and instrument maker at Chicago Bass Works was kind enough to offer some expert advice and experience on the topic:
“Every string player should know that keeping their instrument in a room with the right humidity is a must, not only for preventing cracks and open seams, but also to keep their instrument sounding its best. There are a lot of different gadgets that go in the case or the instrument, but I tell every player the BEST solution is to keep the whole room humidified. It’s a small investment that pays off big time over the years (especially in the brutal Chicago winter!).
I’ve been using my Ventas for 3 years exclusively as the humidifier for my workshop; as well as my home. I have tried almost every other humidifier out there and the Venta is my favorite by far. After I used my first one for a week I was so impressed I ordered another! It does an excellent job of cleaning the air and keeping the humidity at just the right level. My FAVORITE part though is using it. Anyone who has had to use humidifiers knows that the biggest headaches are filling them, changing the wicks and filters and cleaning every little nook and cranny. The Venta is intelligently designed to make upkeep as easy as possible. Simple to fill, disassembles for very easy cleaning, and NO WICKS!”
Mr. Hassel is not the only music aficionado who relies on Venta to keep his precious wooden instruments properly maintained. World-renowned Austrian pianist, Alfred Brendel and English violinist Nigel Kennedy also hold Venta in high regard as essential to the proper humidification of instruments:
“Out of all birthday presents the Venta Airwasher has been the most useful.” – Alfred Brendel, World-Famous Pianist and Author
“Wherever I perform in the world: my agents are required to provide Venta-Airwasher, because my priceless violin needs the best possible environment. Only Venta gives me the peace of mind that the air humidification will be perfect.” – Nigel Kennedy, World-Famous Violinist
A few other testimonials from our loyal (and musically talented!) Venta Community:
“I have used Venta Airwashers for more than 12 years to humidify rooms containing my piano and antique furniture. Keeping the units running during the winter months when the air inside is extremely dry has successfully prevented my piano from drying out and needing repair. At first I only ran an Airwasher in the room containing my piano, but now have them in each of the main rooms on my first floor. In addition to preserving the piano, they have also kept my antiques in good shape.
Prior to using Venta Airwashers I had trouble with a couple of antique chests developing cracks and the air washers have helped prevent further cracking. In addition to humidifying the room, the air washers do a great job of cleaning the air. When I change the water it is obvious that they have removed dirt and dust from the air. The units are easy to refill and clean and as an added bonus are very quiet. Thank you again for all of your help.” -Margaret Dillon
“The Venta LW25 unit – I have two of these units and they are, without being too dramatic, a Godsend. I have an 850 sq. ft. unit in an 80 year old building, with 9” ceilings. I also have a collection of 133 guitars, representing 35 brands and 7 countries, the oldest being an 1870 parlor guitar, and they all need an environment of 71 degrees F, +/-= 2.0 degrees, and 46% RH. For years I have been using all the tricks in the book to maintain these temps by using weather stations in my living room and the main collection room (the bedroom), plus AC, the differences in RH & temp. from natural sources (opening and closing windows).
Still, about 10 years ago we had a terrible winter that left the collection at the mercy of 17% RH for a few days. I was reduced to putting pans of cold water on my steam radiators! I knew I had to alleviate this situation, and, I went on line, looking for the best answer. I looked at a few until I saw the Venta site. When I logged on, I saw what I believed to be the perfect answer to my problems, the Venta LW25. I read not only of the way it worked, so simple yet ingenious, but found that virtuoso violinist Nigel Kennedy, a uniquely talented man I had heard play at a local theater a few years prior, insisted on Venta units in both home and in performance. Well, if it’s good enough for “Nige”, they were good enough for me. I purchased the 25’s and now, no matter the weather, I have obtained a yearly average, for the entire apartment, of 70 degrees F, 50% RH, and my instruments have never been happier.
I’m even using my Venta’s as evidence in a dispute with Martin guitars. I purchased a $5,000.00 Martin OM-18 1933 Authentic, and when I received it, it was uncomfortable to play, and when I sent it back, they casually told me the fingerboard was warped! And, to add insult to injury, they blamed me for the problem. So, I am using my temp and humidity information from the Ventas to press my case.” -Fred Lichtenberg
Venta is incredibly thankful for the testimonials and hands-on experience these amazing musicians and musical experts have given us. We are committed to producing the highest quality machines that operate to improve your quality of life and so you can enjoy the things you find important. Do you use the Venta Airwasher to maintain your musical instrument? Send us an email and a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org!