As I had predicted earlier, the humidity is possibly at the lowest at which you will see it the whole year through – at least here, in North India.
This is the best time to work with wood and build whatever you’ve been planning, for the weather is very dry and the glue will cure super fast, giving you a super strong bond. Instrument repair is no different.
Also, this is also the time to give a little drink of water to your ‘parched’ instrument. You may not feel the need to hydrate your guitar, but believe me, your guitar is thirsty. The effects of that thirst may be more visible on solid wood instruments and to a lesser extent on laminated ones.
The latter are able to bear the vagaries of Nature due to the layers of different wood used, but the former are given more easily to cracks and splits due to the uniform character of its wood.
The suspect areas to look out for are the top and the back, the fingerboard, the centre seam on the top and the back, the neck-to-heel joint, the heel-to-body joint, and probably any joint put together with any kind of glue.
A drink of water now ensures that your guitar will swell up some, having taken in the moisture provided to it and prevent a crack from appearing. If there is a little crack that has appeared somewhere, you will notice that water will close it within 48 hours.
That said, do remember that this is a natural process of wood taking in moisture and swelling, closing any seam separations that might appear. Feeding moisture to a guitar will certainly not help fill missing pieces of wood.
How do you make your guitar ‘drink water’?
It’s pretty simple, actually. A bowl small enough to fit through the soundhole of your guitar is chosen (A plastic container of some sort serves best). Mark the inside wall in small, equal units with a fine permanent marker. Now fill the bowl three-fourths and keep it inside your guitar (with the instrument lying on its back).
As final steps, cover the sounddhole with a plastic cover and tape it down just enough that the cover does not move from its place. Next, place the guitar – bowl and all – in a place where no one is likely to move it.
Every couple of days, take a look at the level of water in the bowl. If you see it reducing, you know your guitar is drinking the water. Fill it up with more water. Continue the entire process till the time that you see the level of water reducing no more. At this point, you know that your guitar is fully hydrated and you can easily remove the bowl of water.
Experts call this process ‘hydrating’ your guitar, and there are multiple costly implements available in the market that profess to do the same job with chemicals.
What no one is willing to talk about is the damage that they are liable to do if the chemicals leak inside your guitar.
For me, it’s better safe than sorry with my bowl of water!!