An overly dry environment or sudden changes in humidity can cause damage to your violin, resulting in reduced sound quality. This damage is often irreversible and easily prevented.
Luckily, violin case humidifiers are inexpensive and effective. In this article we look at how important violin case humidifiers are, three different types and the best possible options for protecting your violin.
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Why are Violin Case Humidifiers So Important?
Since wood expands and shrinks with the changes in relative humidity, you can expect to see distortion in the violin’s resonance and speed when the water content in the case is off balance.
Ideally, you want to keep your violin at a humidity range of around 40-60%.
When you carry your instrument around, you’re constantly subjecting it to changing levels of moisture content in the air.
For instance, the humidity in air-conditioned rooms tends to hover under 50%. However, even if you keep the case indoors when you’re not using it, you won’t be able to control the conditions when you transport the case back and forth.
A violin case, even if it’s well built, won’t protect against these fluctuations, and that’s usually where problems start.
If the humidity level drops, the wood will shrink slightly. It’s not a noticeable change to the naked eye but can impact sound quality.
If you leave the violin in extremely dry air for longer periods, you might start noticing visible dryness and even cracking along the grain.
What Should You Look For In a Violin Case Humidifier?
A violin case humidifier is an inexpensive investment but can make a significant impact to the health of your instrument.
Before choosing the perfect humidifier to go in your fiddle case, you need to consider a few factors, from the principle to the ease of maintenance.
Let’s take a closer look:
- Get Familiar With the Three Different Types
Typical water humidifiers are made of a sponge that you wet, wipe clean, and put in the case to release moisture into the air. Every 10 days or so, you need to re-wet the sponge with distilled water.
They’re not super accurate, but they’re affordable and come in a wide array of shapes and sizes to fit different instrument cases.
Other water humidifiers are bottle-shaped and filled with hydrogels, but they work in more or less the same way as the sponge models.
Leakage is less common, so you get to protect the case lining and the wood varnish. Also, these products tend to last 2 – 3 months at a time so require less maintenance.
Meanwhile, humidifier packets look a lot like the silica bags you see with new shoes and clothes. Some of them release moisture only, while others work both ways to maintain a specific range of humidity.
Humidifier packets are relatively hassle free as they are disposable. You just replace the old one when it dries out.
- Consider the Mounting Options
It’s best to avoid humidifiers that require complex installment processes.
Not only is it exhausting, but you don’t want to drill holes into your case and be stuck with the same type. Plus, they don’t work for non-wood violin cases.
Instead, the perfect option to go for should be small, portable, and easy to replace. Thankfully, most brands cater to exactly these requirements.
Some even come with separate pouches or clips to store neatly inside your case. Those are your best bet when you’re choosing a violin case humidifier.
- Pick the Right Output
A common misconception with violin case humidifiers is that people tend to believe that more is better. That’s not always true, especially since high humidity can be just as bad for your instrument as dry air.
For this, you’ll need to get a hygrometer and check the regular humidity level in your case on a typical day. Repeat this measurement over a couple of days, just to be sure.
Then compare these results to the optimum value for your violin. Usually, the manufacturer has this info, but 40% is a good place to start.
If you’re so far off from the desired level, go for the humidifiers that carry more water. You might even need to pair two for best results. If you only need minor tweaks, you can pick a smaller one.
Alternatively, you can look for humidifiers that work on a set range of relative humidity. Outside this range, the gadget won’t release any extra output. This way, you don’t have to worry about over-humidification at all.
Top 3 Violin Case Humidifiers
Now that you have a better idea about what humidifier works best for you, let’s take a look at the top options out there based on each category:
- Best Sponge Humidifier
The D’Addario is a cellulose sponge water humidifier with an outer shell to reduce leakage. This is good for protecting the wood varnish.
The main appeal here is that it’s small and sleek, making it suitable for most violin cases.
It might be a good fit for you if you’re dealing with relative humidity under 20%.
- Best Water Humidifier
The hydrogel in the Arion humidifier should last you anywhere between 1-3 months, depending on how dry the air is.
While it’s originally made for woodwind instruments, it also works well for violin cases.
Its shape makes it easy to throw in the case and forget about it. You just have to make sure not to fill above the line to avoid leakage.
- Best Humidifier Packets
If you’re looking for something to cut the hassle, humidity control packets might be the way to go here. You don’t have them to refill with water or worry about leakage inside the case at all. You’ll know when it’s time to change it when the packet turns solid.
The packets are also set at 49% relative humidity, so you don’t have to bother double-checking with a hygrometer. This low-maintenance approach is what attracts many violinists to the Boveda packets.
Aside from keeping the wood looking good, a case humidifier can help you preserve the sound quality of your violin.
While there’s no outright best violin case humidifier, you can try and balance the required maintenance with the output.