Dryness can lead to mandolin damage. Your mandolin needs moisture. If you live Nevada, you expect dry climate. But heating your home in winter can make it just as dry. When relative humidity is below 30%, humidifying a mandolin is critical to the mandolin’s health. As a result of dry air, wood shrinks. Hence, wood and finish can crack. Furthermore, you can see symptoms like frets coming loose. Also, sharp fret ends can extend beyond the fingerboard edge. Seams can separate. Similarly, neck joints can becomes loose. Tops can sink, resulting in low action and fret buzzing. Tuning machine screws can come loose. Humidifying a mandolin can prevents these issues.
How do you humidify a mandolin? Place a mandolin humidifier in the case. The Mando Shop recommends the Oasis Mandolin Humidifier. To visit the manufacturer website click here. It is sized for a mandolin case. Fill it with distilled water and it dispenses water vapor. Do you keep your mandolin out of the case? You may need a room humidifier.
Over humidification is also a problem. Wood swells when the air is humid. A swelling top can result in high action. This can make the mandolin difficult to play. A fingerboard can swell wider than the neck. This leaves an uneven edge between the fingerboard and neck. Very high humidity, 80 to 90 percent, can cause glue joints to fail. Finishes can lift. Cosmetic finish distortions may not go away even after the wood has dried.
A Digital Hygrometer
Monitor the humidity level with a hygrometer. Hence, you can easily determine the humidity level. A false reading can be disastrous for your mandolin. I recommend a digital hygrometer. The analog hygrometers often are not as accurate. You can find a digital hygrometer on Amazon. The optimal humidity for a mandolin is 45 to 55 percent.