You may have heard of humidifying an acoustic guitar, but is the same true of your electric guitar? Do electric guitars need humidifiers as well? While the process is somewhat complicated, we can provide an easy answer first and then move into some of the details for those wanting a more thorough explanation.
Do electric guitars need humidifiers? The Simple Answer
In most cases, no. Electric guitars usually do not need humidifiers.
This is because - unlike acoustic guitars - most electric guitars have what's called a solid body, meaning it's a solid chunk of wood that's too thick to be susceptible to the same problems we run into with acoustic guitars.
In other words, the shape of an electric guitar's body is pretty much set in stone, and won't be impacted by humidity levels.
The Problem with Acoustic Guitars
Acoustic guitars have a hollow body, making them more susceptible to warping, with either a sinking or swollen body radius.
- Sinking body radius (acoustic guitars)
- Swollen body radius (acoustic guitars)
As the air gets dry, the body of an acoustic guitar will sink.
At the same time, if the air is too damp, the body of the acoustic guitar will swell and expand.
Electric Guitar Body Design
As I mentioned, most electric guitars are designed as a solid piece of wood, which means there's not going to be any sinking or swelling of the body radius.
For this reason, electric guitars do not need any kind of humidification system.
However, humidity levels - either too dry or too damp - can still effect tone and/or tuning stability. It's just usually not to a degree that's significant enough to warrant a humidifier.
What about semi-hollow body electric guitars?
Even with semi-hollow or chambered electric guitars, I still wouldn't necessarily recommend a humidifier.
It's usually just portions of the guitar that are hollowed out, which isn't enough to cause any significant warping or change in the shape of the body. As long as you store it in a dry space that's not too cold or too hot, you should be fine, even with the semi-hollow body design.
Too much humidity
If anything, when it comes to electric guitars, I'd be more worried about having too much humidity.
This can potentially cause metal and electrical parts to rust or to not work as well and can be more of a problem when it comes to clarity of the pickup magnets and the guitar's tone.
Of the two problems, I'd rather be dealing with dryer air when it comes to electric guitars, and more humid air for acoustic guitars.
The Hardshell Case Issue
It's also true that humidifying an electric guitar would require a hardshell case, which often doesn't leave much room for a humidifier. There's also the problem that many electric guitar players simply have a gig bag, which isn't ideal for humidifying.
While a hardshell case is a nice luxury, it's not necessary in regards to humidifying, so don't feel like you need to rush out and buy a hardshell case.
I'd recommend saving the money on the case and the humidification system.
You don't really need either one.
In summary, electric guitars do not need to be humidified. If anything, it's advisable to keep them in a more dry climate to preserve the electrical components and the pickups.
But if you have additional questions, or stories of your own to share, feel free to reach out via the comments section below and I'll help out as best I can.
See you there.
David Iverson says
SMH, have you never heard of fret sprout? This article is horrible advice for any guitar owner.
Bobby Kittleberger says
How common of a problem is that, though? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. Certainly not common enough to go through the pain of fooling with a humidifier all the time.
I have to agree with the poster above. And add that fret sprout is an extremely common problem and that on any fretted instrument. Keeping humidity at the right level is really important (especially if you’re in a place that has cold and dry winters).
And humidity shifts effect solidbody bodies (not just the necks) on multipiece bodies (basically 95% of Fender guitars) where if you go from very humid to very dry or vice versa, the body pieces can start to separate. Same goes for the headstock wings on gibsons (which they all have).
Also your finish on the guitar will also define how good your guitar will react to humidity swings, lacquered vs oiled, or non filled finishes (like the gibson faded series)
Bobby Kittleberger says
Valid points. Thanks for sharing.