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Right up-front, I want to put something out there: I went into this Humitar experiment with a negative bias–I didn’t want to like the Humitar.
In other words, I didn’t even want to test drive this guitar humidifier because of my past experience with sponge-type guitar humidifiers. I’d decided I just don’t like ‘em. Why, you ask?
Because, as much as I love my guitars and want them to last a lifetime, I’m lazy. I admit it.
Over the years, I’ve used several sponge-based guitar humidifiers: Dampits, Kysers, and a few other similar models that all had little porous (cellulose) sponges inside them. In this dry Arizona weather, they were usually bone dry after just 2-3 days. I felt like I was CONSTANTLY having to re-wet them and, since I’m lazy, I would neglect the task for 2-3 weeks–leaving my guitars vulnerable.
The Ideal Humidity Range for Guitars
The ideal humidity range for guitars is between 45% – 55% relative humidity. Acoustic and semi-hollowbody guitars are most affected by humidity extremes outside that range.
Expose your guitar to humidity outside this ideal range for an extended period of time and you can start to have problems–ranging from the mildly annoying, like string buzz or high action, to the catastrophic, like a cracked top or back.
Our Test Subject: My Custom Breedlove Acoustic
I live in the dry Arizona desert, where humidity averages only 12% – 30% most of the year. Worse, we’re running either our air conditioner or heater year-round, which sucks even more moisture out of the air inside the house (which is where my guitars live).
About a year ago, I ordered a Custom Breedlove acoustic guitar that cost me north of $2k.
No way was I taking any risks with this baby, so I knew that I wanted an in-case humidifier for the task. Up until this review, I’d been using an Oasis OH-5 Plus+ Guitar Humidifier for the task. Though it worked well and was NOT sponge-based (used gel crystals inside), it had to be refilled roughly every 4-5 days. UGH! Did I mention how lazy I am?
Regardless, the Oasis is a good humidifier (for people who aren’t lazy) for dry climates, and it’s the one I’ve been recommending for awhile now.
Enter: the Music Nomad Humitar Acoustic Guitar Humidifier
One advantage to having a guitar blog is that companies sometimes send me stuff to try. I don’t get big, expensive items like amps and guitars, but I do occasionally receive accessories. One day, a box arrived from Music Nomad containing, among other things, their sponge-based guitar humidifier: The Humitar.
Hmm. Sponge-based? Remember: me = lazy, so I almost set it aside to search for some other accessory to try out. Then I noticed something: the sponge was… different. Instead of a typical, porous cellulose sponge it looked almost like a smooth yellow bar of soap.
The Humitar instead uses what it calls the “Humid-i-Bar sponge,” a smooth, high-density foam that, according to their website, is anti-drip and “holds 10x its weight in water.” At that point, I was really curious (and skeptical) and decided to put it to the test.
Putting the Humitar to the Test
1. Soak the Humid-i-bar sponge
Loosely following the directions on the package, I first soaked the Humid-i-Bar sponge in warm water for about 3 minutes. I say “loosely” because distilled water is recommended, but I instead used Arrowhead bottled water. I believe that the only difference is that distilled water is less prone to mold growth and other nastiness. So, I’m probably shortening the lifespan of the sponge a bit, and I’m okay with that.
2. Give the sponge a light squeeze
Here’s something interesting I immediately noticed about the Humid-i-bar sponge: no water was escaping after I lifted it out of the water. The only water that came off it was surface water. Here I was, holding a heavy, saturated sponge that felt like a piece of wet tofu, yet no water was coming out. I shook it–still no water came out. Pretty interesting.
However, following the directions, I did give the sponge a gentle squeeze, which forced a little water out. Note here that all you have to do is gently pinch the sponge. You don’t need to mash it to death in your fist like you do with typical, porous cellulose sponges.
3. Pop the sponge inside the holder and close the lid
That’s it really–not much else to say here. Slide the wet sponge into the case and flick the lid closed.
4. Slide the holder between the D and G strings.
This is one place where I noticed a potential issue–but only on guitars that already have some tuning instability. As you can see, the plastic holder spreads the strings apart a good amount. So, if your guitar is already a bit “stability challenged” you may have to retune those strings a bit when you get your guitar out to play it. I didn’t have any problems with my Breedlove. All strings were still in tune each time I pulled it out of the case to play it.
5. Check the Humitar periodically for wetness
Just pop open the top of the holder and poke the Humid-i-bar sponge with your finger. If it’s still wet, it’s fine. It doesn’t need to be re-soaked until the sponge is dry to the touch.
So, How Did it Perform?
In short, the Humitar far exceeded my expectations. For nearly 2 full weeks, it kept the humidity inside my guitar case between 45% – 50% humidity. Nearly TWO FULL WEEKS. Remember what I said about the Oasis OH-5’s I’d been using? I had to refill THOSE about every 4-5 days, and those are fancy gel-crystal based.
But don’t just take my word for it. Check out the data.
Every evening for 2 full weeks, I recorded the relative humidity reading on the digital hygrometer inside my guitar case. I also checked the dampness of the Humid-i-bar sponge each time. Here’s how it all panned out:
Day 0: starting room humidity (before installing Humitar) was 30%…
|Day #||Humidity Reading||Sponge Feels…|
|1||48%||Dry ____________|_ Wet|
|2||48%||Dry ___________|__ Wet|
|3||47%||Dry __________|___ Wet|
|4||50%||Dry _________|____ Wet|
|5||49%||Dry ________|_____ Wet|
|6||49%||Dry _______|______ Wet|
|7||49%||Dry ______|_______ Wet|
|8||49%||Dry _____|________ Wet|
|9||49%||Dry ____|_________ Wet|
|10||49%||Dry ___|__________ Wet|
|11||47%||Dry ___|__________ Wet|
|12||45%||Dry __|___________ Wet|
|13||43% (Too low. Time to re-soak)||Dry _|____________ Wet|
At day 13 I ended the test, because 43% humidity is below the ideal range. Time to re-soak the Humitar. But wow, if I only have to re-soak this thing every 13 days then I’m a happy camper. Even MY lazy ass can cope with that level of commitment.
Ease of Use
I honestly almost gave this 4 stars. Who knows–after I sleep on it I might bump the rating up. The only reason this gets 3.5 stars is because of the fact that you’re supposed to use distilled water–which I never have handy. I also gave it 3.5 stars because, well, like all similar sponge-based humidifiers, there’s still some work involved in soaking the sponge and all. God, why am I so lazy?
At $13.99, it’s hard to argue with the value considering how long this thing lasts before it has to be re-soaked. The price is cheaper or on-par with other sponge-based humidifiers, yet none of the others offer the super-dense kind of sponge that the Humitar does. Honestly, I’m surprised it isn’t more expensive (I hope Music Nomad isn’t reading this).
Also, I was highly impressed with the performance. As you saw above, it kept the humidity inside my case near an ideal 50% for 12 full days.
Only 4 stars here because of, again, my laziness. If you follow the directions and heat up the water first (which you don’t actually have to do), you’re looking at about 20 seconds of heating the water in the microwave, then 1-2 minutes of soaking. Not bad at all, really. Put it in to soak and go take care of a couple chores while it’s soaking.
The only reason I deducted half a star here is because ANY in-case humidifier containing water or other liquid carries a risk of leakage. So, this isn’t a ding against the Humitar, it’s really a ding against all in-case guitar humidifiers. Until an in-case guitar humidifier is invented that that can GUARANTEE no leakage, I will never give an in-case humidifier 5 stars.
That said, I did not have any leaks or drips, and was very confident about placing the Humitar into my guitar. After soaking the sponge, I did some informal tests… including shaking and gently squeezing the sponge, and I was impressed with how well it retained water. It did not drip unless squeezed.
In fact, after this first 14-day test concluded and I refilled the sponge, I did not wring out the excess water. Nope. I put it into my guitar fully saturated. That’s how confident I was. So, I actually expect it to last longer this time around–I might get more than 2 weeks out of it before it has to be refilled. We shall see.
Videos From the Manufacturer
For good measure and to further round-out this review, here are a couple manufacturer’s videos for the Humitar.
Humitar vs. the Competition:
Recap: What I Liked
- The Humid-i-bar sponge does indeed seem to hold more water than the typical, porous cellulose sponges used in other sponge-type humidifiers. Once soaked, the sponge feels quite heavy–much like a warm, wet piece of tofu.
- Sponge lasted almost 2 weeks before having to be re-soaked.
- Even when fully saturated (and not wrung out) the sponge didn’t leak or drip.
- Checking the dampness of the sponge was quick and easy. Just flip open the top and check it with your finger. I don’t bother–I just look at the humidity reading on my digital hygrometer to know when it needs to be re-soaked.
Recap: What I Didn’t Like
- The holder spreads the D and G strings a bit. This wasn’t a problem for me, but on guitars that already have some tuning instability, you might have to do a little tune-up each time you get your guitar out to play.
- You’re technically supposed to use distilled water to soak the sponge, and distilled water just isn’t something I keep around the house (nor am I buying any).
I think the best way to sum up my impression of the Music Nomad Humitar is by telling you what I’m planning to do next: I’m discontinuing my use of my old guitar humidifier and buying another Humitar, so that I have one for both of my acoustic guitars.
I was really impressed by the Humitar. It excelled in both performance and convenience–which are the two most important things for me when it comes to in-case guitar humidifiers.
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