The friend that brings their guitar or ukulele along on a camping trip is always the favorite of the group. You can bond over the campfire, while singing your favorite tunes. Unfortunately, camping and unpredictable weather come hand in hand, which can wreak havoc on your prized instrument.
The ideal climate for a stringed instrument is a constant temperature between 60-70 degrees and a relative humidity of 35-50%. That sounds ideal weather for us too, right? Not always the cause when you’re outdoors.
Wood attracts and absorbs moisture, which causes the fretboard to move and open seams. When the wood dries it shrinks. The most common fatalities from dried wood is cracks and grip loss between the peg and pegboard. Open seams can be fixed, but cracks are a more serious matter. By following these tips, you can ensure your guitar or ukulele will be well taken care of during your outdoor adventure.
Get a Good case
A hard protective case is your first line of defense when safe-keeping your treasured instrument. Look for a case with padding on the inside. That way when it’s jostled around driving on uneven roads, or trekking through the mountains, your instrument will be safe and sound. If there is extra wiggle room inside the case, try putting some old t-shirts or newspaper into the spaces. This will protect from any instrument disasters.
Pack Your Case
Before setting foot on your camping trip, make sure to loosen the strings. If the guitar expands or shrinks it will prevent the fretboard from snapping or bending. Try putting masking tape around the seal of your case, especially on the clasps on the outside of the case. This is incredibly important if you get caught in the rain somewhere and prevents the case from accidentally popping open while you’re in transit.
Plan for the Weather
If you are camping in cold, dry weather bring a case humidifier with you. This can be placed inside your case. Look for humidifiers with hydrogel, which allow vapor to be released slowly, making the environment more stable.
For warm, humid climates you will want to dehumidify your instrument. Silicon packets can go in the body of the case to absorb any moisture in humid climates. This will prevent the wood from getting moldy or damaged from excess water.
If you aren’t sure the level of humidity in the air, invest in an accurate hygrometer. This will take the guesswork out of it and allow you to maintain the appropriate amount of humidity for your instrument.
Protect from the Sunlight
Be careful not to let your instrument be exposed to direct sunlight for a long period of time. Of course, playing a song or two out in the sunshine won’t hurt it, but the heat from the sun can melt the varnish and create bubbles on the surface. This can be very difficult to repair.
Invest in a Travel Guitar
With the unpredictability of weather, and not knowing what the environment will be like where you’re camping can be scary for an expensive guitar or ukulele. Fortunately, many companies produce smaller and cheaper instruments. This is ideal if you can only carry so much weight with you, have limited space in your trunk, or don’t want to ruin your $1,000+ guitar. A travel guitar can be a great alternative.
By following these tips, you can protect your investment in your prized instrument. Your camping trip will now be stress free, at least from the aspect of your guitar or ukulele is concerned. Enjoy the many treasured memories you will have seated around the campfire.
Sources & Further Reading
Guest Post Author- Colleen has a passion for guitars and ukuleles. She enjoys jamming, teaching, and getting others involved in music. Her website, Coustii, focuses specifically on guitars and ukes.