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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Guitars and Singapore's Climate

Most Singaporeans will describe Singapore's climate as hot, wet and humid. However, not a lot was known about the figures that are relevant to the well being of our guitars. A quick check at the National Environment Agency’s (NEA) website (, anyone can trawl a slew of weather statistics of Singapore. Surprisingly the lowest temperature recorded for the past 75 years was at 19.4°C.

Both temperature and relative humidity (RH) are closely related to guitars. Since there is abundance in temperature and RH data, some filtering is required. In this article, I will focus the mean RH. It should help to guitarists to be aware of the levels of humidity their guitars are exposed to. After filtering the unwanted data, the table displayed the average values of temperature, RH and EMC.

What is the point of getting temperature and RH data? Guitarists who are concerned with effects of RH on their guitars will be interested to know the level of WMC within their guitars. Obviously they will not favor the intrusive methods required by wood moisture meters, using temperature and RH to predict the level WMC within woods seem like a good alternative. It is definitely possible to do that.

Without going into the mathematics of it, WMC can be calculated with respective temperatures and RHs. You can try it out heres: Using the monthly average temperatures and RHs of past 75 years, the WMC or EMC within woods in Singapore was established. While the calculated WMC or EMC didn’t specifically point at guitars, it would be reasonable to use the figures to predict WMC within guitars that are made of wood.

At this point, if you’re not sure about WMC and EMC, you can read in greater detail at my website; there is a page dedicated to guitar care. Here is the link: Dehumidifying Part 1

The table below displayed monthly temperature and RH data of 75 years of accumulation. E.g. the temperature data of Jan means over 75 years of records, this is the mean of the 24hr mean, i.e. 25.9°C. The corresponding RH was also captured in NEA’s website. With the pair of matching data, it was possible to work out the mean EMC for each month.

Take note of 17.34% at the bottom right of the table. What does it mean to our guitars? To put it simply, most guitars in Singapore are carrying elevated moisture content within them. Unless you have possessed a containment that is fully climate controlled to 40 to 50% RH and 25 to 28°C, your guitars need dehumidification.

Except for limited individuals who could afford a purposefully built facility to house guitars, most guitar enthusiasts are left to the mercy of the climate. There is no hiding from humidity. Chances are the moment when guitars left their factories and fly to Singapore, they are unlikely to experience an EMC of 8.5% anymore. Changes in WMC within fiber saturation point accounts for any physical or dimensional changes in woods. Invariably, most acoustic guitars in Singapore suffer from swelling top plates.

In conclusion, there is no hiding from the effects of high humidity. If you can afford a 24/7 climate controlled facility, your guitars will stay in pristine conditions for extensive duration. It was also possible to calculate WMC within woods from temperature and RH values. It allowed prediction of WMC within woods without the need to measure it by means of a wood moisture meter. The intrusive measuring methods of such meter will not find favor among guitar enthusiasts. Last but not least, weather data from NEA has suggested an average 17.34% of WMC within woods in Singapore. This number to guitar enthusiasts in Singapore should provide a good indication of the environmental conditions surrounding their guitars. Hopefully it will motivate them to take actions in maintaining their guitars’ well being.

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