Several of us are away at the Somerset Folk Harp Festival, and we may not be able to respond to emails and phone calls as quickly as usual. Thank you for your patience!
When you're going through a dry winter and can't get the humidity up to a safe level in your instrument room, but you don't want the hassle of putting the instrument away in its case all the time, what can you do?
Dulcimer player Charles Brown sent us this photo of his creative setup this past winter. He keeps his D670 in a heated office in Chicago, and even with a room humidifier running full-blast, he couldn't get the humidity up above 33%, which he knew was a dangerously low level. The problem was that the volume of air in the room was simply too much for the humidifier to have any effect. He could have put the dulcimer in its case when he wasn't playing, and a few case humidifiers probably would have worked to keep the air inside the case at a safe humidity level, but he was practicing many times a day, and that would have been a major inconvenience.
His solution was to make a humidity tent by draping a clear plastic painter's tarp over his dulcimer and the humidifier, effectively creating a smaller volume of air for the humidifier to work on. He then kept an eye on his hygrometer (also placed inside the tent), and when the humidity got to be too high (it reached 85% at one point!) he was able to make modifications to bring it down again. He chose to move the humidifier farther away from the dulcimer, but the same result could probably be achieved by turning the humidifier down, if it has multiple settings, or experimenting with poking some holes in the tarp to allow excess humidity to escape slowly. Notice that he also put a towel in between the tarp and the wood of his instrument. This way if any condensation formed on the plastic, it wouldn't get the instrument wet.
Many thanks to Charles for encouraging us to share this solution with others! We know he's not the only one to have faced this challenging situation. Let us know if you have any other creative ideas to share!
If all this humidity and dryness stuff is new to you, check out our previous blog post on humidity for some background info and other tips on keeping your instrument safe from cracking.