It's been a cold winter here in my hometown of Tupelo, MS with consecutive days in the teens. So the heat's been on pretty steady in the house, and that's a great way to wreck a guitar. Especially an older acoustic.
My '98 Strat usually handles it pretty fine, but I have to keep a close eye on my '69 Gibson J-45. If you're not worried about keeping your guitars in the right level of humidity you could be doing some serious long-term damage to your instrument.
So, here are some simple ways to protect your guitar in the winter:
- Always keep your guitars in a case. Unless you're really vigilant about the humidity of the room, they're much safer in the case.
- Bring your guitar into the bathroom when you shower. When you're traveling or if you don't have a humidifier handy, bring your guitar into the bathroom with you each day when you shower. It's ok if the guitar gets a little moisture on it. When you're done showering take it right to the case. Don't let it sit out and dry.
- Use a simple guitar humidifier. There's no need to buy a fancy humidifier for the room. You can get a cheap guitar humidifier. If you really care about your instrument this is essential. These days I use a Planet Waves Humdipack. It's really great because it uses a chemical system to maintain an ideal 45% humidity inside your case. You just put one pouch in the sound hole and one under the headstock. There's no dripping or anything to clean up. It adds moisture or absorbs it to keep the case at a constant 45% humidity level. In the past I've also used a Dampit. It's super simple; you just add water when it dries out and it slides into the body of the guitar.
- Play it regularly! Guitars want to be played. The best way to keep 'em sounding good is to do with it what God intended. Play it.
If anything, just be more aware of your guitar's environment during winter. If you live in Florida, you might not have to worry, but if you're like me and get dry skin every time the heat comes on, just be aware that your guitar is probably dried out too. Wood breathes and expands with the weather. If you have a nice guitar, this is the single most important thing you can do to protect it.
My J-45 hangs in the bathroom while I shower. It's an easy way to keep it healthy when you're on the go.