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Name: Nathan
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Question:
I was in a argument with some friends about whether the temperature has a APPRECIABLE effect on wood for example leaving my guitar in the below freezing trunk of our car over night. My understanding is that temperature effects wood minutely and that it has a effect on humidity which in turn has a greater effect but I do not think the temperature has a great effect on dry wood. I hope my question makes sense and would love to here what you think.



Replies:
Having once ruined a guitar by exposing it to varying temperatures, I speak from first hand experience. Interestingly, what failed were the glue joints. I suspect this is not simply from the cold, but rather from the different rates of expansion and contraction of the different woods. even though the movement is likely small, I expect the force to be significant. Perhaps another response can address the actual rates of change for different woods.

Larry Krengel ==================================================================== As you pointed out, humidity has an effect on instruments. The cold or heat can affect the absorbed moisture in ways you might not like. Some parts of instruments are designed to be under stress, some are not. Greatly cooling or heating an instrument would alter these stresses and possibly do damage.

Having said that, I would venture that violins, violas, etc. are in more danger than an acoustic guitar and the acoustic is in more danger than a solid electric.

Best solution? Find a heated garage.

Robert Avakian


Unfortunately, I think you lose. Temperature changes the acoustical properties not only of the wood in an instrument but also the tension on the strings. The effect is particularly large on instruments like the harp. Not only are the strings affected but also the frame itself. Yes humidity plays a part, but temperature can quickly "untune" a perfectly well tuned instrument.

Vince Calder



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