Buzzing Cracks And Humidity
Humidity and your Guitar
If you have a guitar that once played beautifully that is now buzzing, hard to play, sounding poorly, or is cracking, you have sustained damage from dryness. All guitars from all manufacturers must be stored between 50 and 60% humidity. If not the woods will warp causing playability and sound issues and will eventually crack. Damage can happen in a matter of weeks if conditions are severe. New guitars with high quality solid woods and low action are most susceptible. Less expensive guitars with high action will not be affected like a precision made solid wood Martin, Taylor or Zager with low action. This type of damage is not warranted by any guitar manufacturer but it is repairable. (Martin Warranty, Taylor Warranty, Fender Warranty, Gibson Warranty)
Signs that your guitar has sustained damage from dryness
- Buzzing or rattling on one or several strings especially near the sound hole.
- Getting the same note when fretting certain chords
- A leaning saddle (from a bridge tray that dried out and expanded) pic
- A peeling pickguard from the woods condensing loosening the adhesive pic
- Loose wires on electrics from the adhesive drying out that holds the wires down pic
- A cracked bridge or separation of the bridge from the face pic
- Sharpness of frets when sliding your hand down the side of the neck pic
- Bowing of the fretboard down into the soundhole pic
- Flatness or sinking of the face (a guitar’s face should bow outwards) pic
- Flatness or sinking of the back (a guitar’s back should bow outwards) pic
- A crack on the face right next to the fret board. pic
- A crack running from bridge to the bottom of the face. pic
- Cracks around the screws of the electronics on electric models. pic
- A crack on the back, neck or heel. pic
How to repair your guitar
Here’s a secret most guitar shops won’t tell you. 99% of buzzing, playability and sound issues can be solved by simply adding water. When a guitars woods get dry the face lowers. This lowers the strings closer to the fretboard causing buzzing, playability and sound issues. To fix it a shop can install new frets, file the frets, build a new bridge, saddle, nut, even replace the entire neck, and all of this work will get your guitar playing again. Or you can simply add water back into the woods that will raise the face back into its original position and fix the problem entirely. Why don’t shops tell you this? BECAUSE THEY CAN’T CHARGE YOU FOR IT. We’d like to say these practices are rare but being in the guitar business over half a century we’ve seen it’s the norm. By simply hydrating the woods and adjusting the neck using a system luthiers have used for hundreds of years (as shown below) you can bring your guitar back to 100% playability and sound without spending hundreds of dollars and without causing more damage to your guitar as shops often do.
Water can even mend cracks if they’re small or just beginning. By super hydrating your guitar as shown in the video below it causes the woods to swell causing small cracks on the face and back to disappear. If your crack is larger 95% can be repaired by simply running a bead of Elmers glue into the crack as shown here. There are shops who will tell you your guitar needs entire refinishing making the crack cosmetically disappear, but what they DON’T tell you is by applying a new layer of finish it will ruin the sound. There’s a reason artists like Willie Nelson who has cracks all over his guitar doesn’t refinish it. He knows if he did he’d lose the sound quality that’s been gained from many years of aging.
Step by step video to repairing your guitar
Send your guitar to Denny for servicing
Denny still services guitars but charges a lot less than most guitar shops, and since he built your guitar he knows how to get the job done right. If you’d like Denny to service your guitar follow this link to our service page.