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Learn More About Humidity Control for Your Instruments with Boveda

We discussed caring for your wooden instruments with Boveda's humidity packs

 

Without proper humidity control, wood instruments will not perform at their maximum ability and in worst cases, be damaged. Boveda makes humidity packs for this exact purpose.

To be stored in your instrument case, the packets achieve and maintain a constant relative humidity (RH) range between 40% and 60%, the industry standard for wooden instruments. They are made out of food-grade salt, purified water, and a food-grade thickening agent sealed inside a leakproof membrane.

Additionally, thanks to Connolly and Boveda, The Violin Channel is this week giving away 10 Boveda humidity control starter kits and refills for either violin, viola, cello, double-bass, guitar, clarinet, flute, and other small wooden instruments.

We caught up with Guy Balbaert, a representative of Boveda, to learn more.

 

Tell us about the Boveda humidity control packets. How did you come up with this technology? 

It started with cigars. Before, cigar connoisseurs were relegated to humidifiers that would only add moisture, whether or not the cigars needed moisture. Other options included distilled water or sponges or other various foam and chemical solutions that were messy, labor intensive, and beyond frustrating. One determined humidor maker sought out a better way for humidifying his personal premium cigar collection and approached Dr. Al Saari, a retired General Mills chemist, who then recruited his trusted colleague and General Mills packaging expert Robert Esse. Together, they took Saari’s formulated salt solution and, with Esse’s help, they found a suitable permeable film that would hold liquid while allowing water vapor to pass through and developed the prototype for an unprecedented product that would change humidity control forever. It all started there and then in 1997.

Today, Boveda has become the category leader for 2-way humidity control for the cigar industry. Of course, multiple markets could benefit from this new approach and since then, Boveda has been the dominant player in the cannabis and wooden instrument markets as well. Both for different reasons of course.

For instruments, the driving force was the luthiers who built their instruments in controlled humidity to ensure a consistent and stable end product. Wood is a living material that reacts to its environment and that’s where a ‘controlled stable humidity level’ for consumers comes into play for these builders. What happens when their instruments leave the workshop? Do they end in a wet or dry environment? What happens to the ‘perfect’ setting of an instrument when the instrument is used for the first time in a different humidity zone? All they could experience was instruments coming back with humidity-related ‘issues’ throughout the year and, in the worst case, cracks. All of these questions resulted in a want for a solution and they found it in Boveda. Multiple A-brands are now shipping their instruments worldwide with Boveda.

 

For what instruments is it available?

The short answer is...for all wooden instruments that travel in a case or bag. The amount of Boveda used changes according to the size of the instrument.

Of course, musicians who have invested in a good/great instrument, an instrument they cherish, are the first to adopt our solution. To make it easy, we’ve created a small and large starter kit. The instruments for each kit are defined. Buying these is the easiest path to start ‘caring’ for your instrument and keeping it in top shape. The same goes for reeds and bows.

 

How does one use the packets?

Open the pack to activate. Insert it in the fabric pouch, place it in your case/bag, or mount it on your displayed instrument. Done!

 

How often do you need to change the refills?

We don’t always know where our customers are, but as a rule, we advise changing Boveda every three months. We know you’re always safe within that time frame, regardless of where you are. If you are in an extremely wet climate we also have High Absorption Boveda (HA).

 

What benefit does it give to the instruments?

Without proper humidity control, wood instruments will not perform at their maximum ability and even worse can be damaged. To maintain their shape, wooden instruments need to be stored at a stable 40–60% RH (relative humidity). Wide fluctuations in humidity will cause the wood to expand or shrink, which puts stress on the instrument and degrades its performance abilities.

Only Boveda’s patented 2-way humidity control adds or removes moisture as conditions require to maintain the ideal humidity level in your instrument case. Boveda helps prevent warping or cracking and eliminates downtime for service. Because Boveda requires zero maintenance, your instrument will always be protected. That’s the pitch really ;)

 

 

 

What problems do humidifiers help musicians avoid?

The aim is the assurance that the instrument comes out of the case in the best shape possible. No frets have moved, no higher string position, no neck issues, and no cracks or damage caused by wood having absorbed too much humidity or being bone-dry.

 

Does it make a difference in tuning? 

We know from music teachers and music store owners that they have to tune their instruments less with Boveda inside.

 

What would you wish instrumentalists knew about humidity?

Be very aware that your instrument is built with a lot of care by luthiers in a controlled environment to create the best instrument, and ultimately, the best experience possible for the player. And instruments are made with a living material that reacts to its environment: wood.

I’m repeating myself, but instrument builders are our loudest voices. Boveda solves a real-world problem for musicians and it’s effortless to use. A simple act of care goes a very long way.

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