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  1. #1

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    I'm inheriting a very nice custom archtop guitar and want to make sure I treat it right.

    My main concern is that my home isn't well insulated. The local temperature ranges between 30F and 95F, and the humidity between 30% and 65%. Is a good case and a soundhole humidifier enough to keep it in top condition?

    My wife suggested buying or commissioning a display case. I like the idea of being able to display the guitar, but it also makes me concerned about security.

    I don't expect to play it often, both because of its values and because it doesn't match my playing style, but it has a lot of sentimental value and I have no intention of selling it.

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  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt_w View Post
    .....The local temperature ranges between 30F and 95F, and the humidity between 30% and 65%....
    Welcome to the forum! This sounds like a pretty wood-friendly climate to me. I live in the Pacific NW... well... actually it's the Pacific SW as I live in Canada. I do nothing whatever to protect my instruments from climate. They hang naked on the wall with no climate control beyond typical indoor heating. This year humidity in the room got below 30% for a few weeks. I got a bit of string buzz.

    There's generally more danger in low than high humidity. The worst thing is taking very cold air and heating it up. That's how a hair dryer works. Like winter, in say.... Minnesota. It shrinks wood and can cause cracking. But your climate seems more temperate.

    And even with poor insulation, houses help moderate swings in temperature and humidity. Guitar cases help with this as well. If you want to keep an eye on something it would be the actual humidity where the guitar is stored, especially in winter.

  4. #3

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    I live in an old house in Minnesota and have several archtop guitars. I keep them all in cases and use home-made in-case humidifiers during the winter months. I make them from those plastic clamshell soap containers like they sell in camping stores. Drill some holes in it and put in a damp (not dripping wet) sponge. I've never had a cracked guitar. Your temperature range is not a problem, as long as you don't expose it to sudden changes. This can happen if, for instance, you're playing the guitar in a heated room during winter and decide you need some fresh air, so you open a window - crack!

  5. #4

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    Welcome Matt


    First - If you post here that you have an expensive archtop, you MUST show us pics. It is a forum rule.


    Second, while storing in the case provides good options to control humidity like coldfingers sais, it is not the perfect solution for all guitars. Many older guitars are likely at some point to start suffering from deterioration of the plastic parts (bindings, pickguard) . And storing the guitar in its case for prolonged periods will accelerate this process. In that case, a larger cabinet with some control over temperature and humidity would be much better to preserve the guitar. So seriously, we need to know/see what it is, to give the best advice possible
    "Oh, those jazz guys are just making that stuff up!" - Homer

  6. #5

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    Yes we need to know what guitar you have and just keep your guitar in the case whennot using it and it will be fine. The inside of you home is fine assuming it does not get below freezing inside or above 100. I suggest not putting it an glass case play and when not playing it leave it in the case. Not being in the case generally can only be a worse issue. Guitars are hardier than many think with some expections, many have been around 80-110 years and have seen a lot of weather change. Yes they do get older and deteriorate a little each passing of time but will outlive most of us.

    Do not embrace the Antique Road Show mentality that unless they are mint and or extremely fine condition, that there is a problem. That show has done a complete disservice to guitars and collectable guitars as well as collectable things in general. Johnny Smith did not order his D'angelico because he thought it was going to be a collectors item, he ordered it to play, perform, and hear the music it could make.
    specializing in repair and setup, does your guitar play like it should?

  7. #6
    Thank you all for the help. It sounds like things are much simpler than I thought.

    The guitar is a 10-string D'Aquisto (really a 12-string but the B and E strings aren't doubled). I'll post a picture when I'm next at my computer.

    It sounds wonderful but it's more of a folk instrument and I prefer playing jazz/blues.

  8. #7

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    Wow thats a rare one indeed

    athough the top bracing probably will be based on higher string tension and be a bit heavy, could you not try and leave the double strings off and play it like a 6 string ? Would be a shame to let such a guitar go un used

    Anyways, regarding storage, both my Daquistos indeed show early signs of binding cracks, and they are a bit notorious for that to happen. Also one has a replaced pickguard with the old one rotten away (the other has a wooden guard)

    I am convinced that these guitars should not be stored in a case for that reason, better in a cabinet or room where you put a simple hygrometer and then control the humidity and temperature to avoid sudden changes
    "Oh, those jazz guys are just making that stuff up!" - Homer

  9. #8

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    One suggestion... If you are in the US (I am not sure if this works the same way outside the US), get a personal property insurance rider attached to your homeowners’ (or renters’) insurance policy. The cost is negligible and will cover the essentials like theft, loss, and damage above and beyond your regular coverage. But the most valuable aspect is you will get one repair, or replacement if the damage is due to humidity issues. Of course it will depend on the quality of your policy. I have USAA and when I returned from a months long trip out of the country, one of my flat tops blew up (a snafu on that one getting the care it deserved). Anyway... big time damage. USAA made good. But, that guitar, once whole again, is no longer able to be covered for humidity damage. It was a one time hit. But boy, was I happy for the coverage. Again, policies vary...
    Best regards,
    Matt

  10. #9

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    I also have a Valuable Personal Property policy with USAA. It's a few dollars a month, for coverage on guitars, jewelry, etc. I'm happy to say I've never needed to file a claim, so I have no experience with that. USAA has always made good on other claims, though, and I wouldn't consider any other company. But I digress - most insurance companies offer VPP policies of one type or another, and most should be inexpensive.

  11. #10
    Caring for expensive archtop-guitar-jpg

    Here's a picture of the guitar.

    msr13 and sgosnell, I completely agree and we recently had it reappraised. I don't live in America, but I have until December (when I'll pick it up) to get everything sorted.

    I'll give it a try as a six-string.

    If we go with a cabinet, what should I look for? I assume well sealed and insulated, and UV protected glass. Anything else?

    fws6 - Can you explain why storing in the case accelerates the accelerates the deterioration of plastic? Fortunately the appraiser didn't mention any issues with the bindings or pickguard.
    Last edited by matt_w; 07-19-2019 at 03:22 AM. Reason: Fixed typo in username

  12. #11

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    Beautiful


    The pickguard (on your fantastic guitar !) is wood so youre safe there


    the bindings that Daquisto used were made out off nitrocellulose. This material decomposes with age. The degradation product from this decomposition is nitric acid, which in gas form will unfortunately accelerate the decomposition again. That is called an autocatalytic process. Kind of like a vicious circle, where the degradation process itself keeps the degradation ongoing.


    I cannot see if your guitar has little cracks and spider web figuring in the binding. If it doesnt thats great. But if it does, dont lock it inside the case or inside a tightly sealed cabinet either. Keep it well ventilated and just make sure that there arent drastic changes in the room temerature and humidity with an AC/humidifier. If the nitric acid can freely get out (it wont hurt you) then decomposition wont be stopped but will be extremely slow


    Id love to hear it as well
    "Oh, those jazz guys are just making that stuff up!" - Homer

  13. #12

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    A couple thoughts:

    1) Buy a high quality room hydrometer (they’re not cheap)
    2) Buy a high-capacity room humidifier (mine is 5-1/2 gallons & lasts a week even during winter)
    3) Try to maintain a 40%-60% RH storage environment
    4) I like to keep mine on a finish safe rack (guitars that are seen, get played)
    5) Try to avoid exterior walls and direct sunlight
    6) Have your guitar evaluated by an expert archtop luthier (consider doing this every few years)
    7) Insure your instrument (I use Heritage insurance)
    8) Clean your guitar after playing it with a lint free cloth
    9) When changing strings, take the time to give it a more thorough wipe down
    10) Play your guitar!
    Last edited by iim7V7IM7; 07-20-2019 at 01:25 PM.
    __________________________________________________ ____________________________________
    Bob


  14. #13
    fws6 - thanks for the detailed explanation. I'll check around if I have a recording.


    iim7V7IM7 - I'd rather not have the guitar out on the ground, between an active dog and my own clumsiness. Any recommendations on how to tell a good room hydrometer from a bad one? I currently have an Acurite monitor that claims to have a tolerance of 3% (Humidity Gauge with Temperature Sensor | AcuRite)

  15. #14

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    I keep two in my music room:

    This one is digital:
    Digital Traceable Humidity/Temp. Meter

    I also keep a large anolog hygrometer on the other end of the room:
    TEMP/ HUMIDITY INDICATOR at Abbeon.com

    I keep two to watch for disagreement or gradients across the room as the distance increases from my humidifier. They typically are +/- 5% from each other. The analog gauge is not as accurate and requires some procedures from time to time (twice a year), but it is large and easy to read at a glance and looks good on the wall.

    Honestly, I target about 45% RH knowing that in reality it will be anywhere between 35% to 55% RH. Guitars typically sound a bit better acoustically towards the dryer side of the 40-60% RH range. Where I live (Northeast USA), I need to run my humidifier between late October through April typically. Between May and September, ambient conditions of air conditioning keep my room within range.

    Hope that helps...


    Quote Originally Posted by matt_w View Post
    fws6 - thanks for the detailed explanation. I'll check around if I have a recording.


    iim7V7IM7 - I'd rather not have the guitar out on the ground, between an active dog and my own clumsiness. Any recommendations on how to tell a good room hydrometer from a bad one? I currently have an Acurite monitor that claims to have a tolerance of 3% (Humidity Gauge with Temperature Sensor | AcuRite)
    __________________________________________________ ____________________________________
    Bob