A critical message for all owners of wooden stringed instruments

This harsh winter has been brutal on acoustic instruments. The problem is that the constant heat in our homes dries the air in the room. If your instruments are on a stand, make sure the instrument is not near a heater vent. If your instrument is hanging on the wall, take it down, put it in the case until the weather changes.

The best thing is to leave your instruments in their cases as much as possible. If you are like us, you like to have a guitar or two out on a stand for easy and constant access. Make sure it is in the right spot.


Get a hygrometer, calibrate it and measure the humidity in the room. Monitor the moisture and make sure to keep the room in a safe range for your instruments. Here is a clue how to tell how dry your guitar is: Run your hand along the side of the fingerboard. If you can feel your fret ends sticking out along the edges (and they were not before) it means your fingerboard has shrunk and the frets will be rough against your hands. All of this is completely fixable, but be aware and careful.

If you have suffered the kind of instrument damage, shrinkage, small cracks in finish or wood, or something more serious because of the effects of low humidity, you are among many others. We haven’t had this many calls to repair low humidity damage in a single winter in over 40 years.

If you have damage, give Marty Lanham a call for expert repair, restoration, or even a new instrument. Oh, and please don’t call to ask how to work the hygrometer — you have to figure that one out on your own! Hope this helps protect the fine instruments played and loved by bluegrass artists.

— Charmaine Lanham