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Humidity range/control for acoustic basses

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Posted by Aabra Jaggard on August 07, 2001 at 15:51:09:

I have searched Google and all the wonderful posts on this board for information on humidity ranges and control for upright basses, but haven't had any luck so far. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Answer in this forum or email me at jaggard73[at] (Replace the "[at]" with a "@"-- no spam!)

About two months ago I started renting a Christopher bass (Hong Kong 2000) from a little shop in Decatur, Georgia. I've got it standing up without a case in a MBS Bass Stand in the corner of my loft. I haven't had any problems with it so far, but a development in my building has me worried.

All my books-- and the books of several of my neighbors-- have become infested with book lice. 'You ever seen these creepy little fellows? Yuck! I found out from an exterminator that they only get out of control when the humidity is consistently above 50 to 60 degrees F, and are usually not a problem in air conditioned units.

I've ordered some "dehumidifier domes" online, which are basically foot powder in a jar. I don't really have enough money for a real, plug-in dehumidifier, but if that's what is required to keep my bass safe, I'll save up for one.

Question #1: What is the correct humidity range for a bass? I tried playing one night with the windows open, and I would have had better luck bowing butter, that's how soft my strings were! I haven't bought a gauge yet, but I have a hunch in the evenings the humidity gets into the 70s. Will this damage my bass in the long range?

Question #2: Will the extreme changes in humidity in the South damage my bass? How can I control the humidity? I know with guitars you keep them in their case, but that sounds really inconvenient. Has anyone had luck maintaining humidity without a case, or using a blanket or wrap of some sort?

Question #3: What is the most accurate way to measure the bass's humidity? Will a gauge hanging in the same room be accurate, or do I need something I can actually stick inside an F hole? How do luthiers do it?

Question #4: Can the booklice infest my bass? They're already in all my music-- I've had to start each practice session by taking a hairdryer to my scale books! Normally booklice thrive on mold, but if their numbers get large enough they'll scrape any organic surface looking for molds, including food and wood items, like basses.

Again, thanks for any information. I am totally freaked out about these little bugs, and have started looking for a new apartment!!

As a little thank you I've attached the link to my list of cool sheet music sources. Enjoy!

--Aabra Jaggard

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