Fat bellies. They happen to all of us, especially as we pile on the years, and there are things that we can do about them. We can workout and cut the carbs, add a mile to a run and cry off the cake. It’s always easier though to prevent a big belly than try to get rid of one — and that’s even truer of instruments than it is of people.
The picture aside shows a guitar with a fat belly. You can see how much the center has bulged, as though the guitar has been secretly helping itself to the cookies while its owner was out listening to gigs. In fact, the guitar has been stored in a place with 80 to 100 percent humidity on most days. Edwin M. Escobar, who posted the picture on Flickr, is a professional guitar player who lives in the Philippines, and you can see the effect of all that Southeast Asian humidity.
The guitar’s wood has become so saturated with moisture that it can no longer lie flat. Like someone who has enjoyed his Christmas lunch a bit too much, the center is now bulging over the belt — in this case, by a good half-centimeter.
Repairing that guitar won’t be easy or cheap, and the guitar will need to be repaired. There’s no question that an instrument with a slightly bigger soundbox is going to sound very different from one with a soundbox that has stayed the way it was built.
But guitars aren’t people. A good holiday meal might be a pleasurable indulgence and worth the extra visits to the gym in the following weeks but a guitar doesn’t complain if you keep it on a permanent diet.
You can make sure that it doesn’t drink in any more moisture than the amount that’s healthy for it.
That usually means keeping it at a humidity level of around 50 percent even in a place where humidity is naturally much higher.
Your Guitar Is Alive — and Wants a Drink
It’s just too easy to forget that a guitar, like a violin, a cello or even a piano, is made of organic material. The wood on which you rest your hand when you’re not plucking the strings was once part of a tree that drew up liquid from the roots and needed water to continue growing.
It suffered when it didn’t receive enough water and it suffered too if the roots became waterlogged and received too much water.
That life continues even when the tree has been cut and the wood has been sawn, treated and shaped into a guitar. It still wants to drink and it will still drink too much given half a chance.
Guitars aren’t people. It can’t fight the fat in the same way that we might by watching our intake and steering clear of the cake stores. Our instruments rely on us to do that for them. If we want to keep our guitars in shape, we need to make sure they’re not indulging when we’re not looking.
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Read our 4 tips and tricks to save you guitar