At Maton, we build all our guitars in a controlled factory environment of 50% relative humidity. We do this because we have established 50% as the level that will enable our guitars to best survive the humidity extremes found in Australia and around the world. This does not mean that Maton guitars are indestructible! Quality musical instruments are made from quality tone woods carefully dimensioned for optimum tonal performance, but they also reflect changes in humidity levels. Well seasoned timbers have an equilibrium level of moisture of about 8%when relative humidity (RH) is at 50%. If the relative humidity climbs to 80%and stays there for some time the moisture level in the wood will increase. In a guitar, this will result in a swollen ‘belly’ and a high action. Conversely, if the
guitar is subjected to 20% humidity for a long period the result will be a sunken belly, strings rattling on the fingerboard and protruding fret ends. In either case, the remedy is to expose the guitar to correct humidity levels until normality is restored.
Fortunately, relative humidity levels in Australia are generally between 35% and 65% and Maton guitars are well able to handle these levels. If your guitar is exposed to greater extremes than this you should take the following measures to minimize humidity damage by doing the following:
• In areas of high humidity keep your guitar in its case and store silicon gel
packs in your case to help absorb extra moisture. (This will also minimise
string corrosion.) Four grams of silica gel is the correct quantity to protect a
guitar so two packs will suffice. If you are unable to find silica gel you can
use rice in a cloth bag to obtain similar results. You can also purchase the excellent Boveda product from the Maton Webstore.
• In areas of low humidity fit a humidifying device to your guitar and leave it
in your guitar when it is in its case. These humidifiers are available from
Maton and can be ordered through your dealer.
It takes a few hours for moisture levels to rise or fall in the timber cells so don’t be afraid to play your gig, just don’t leave your guitar unnecessarily exposed to excessive humidity levels for long periods.
These are cracks in the soundboard, back and sides associated with prolonged exposure to extremely low humidity levels. Low humidity cracks are not covered by warranty and must be attended to promptly as they may develop into major splits. When properly repaired these cracks are not detrimental to the tone or the structural integrity of the instrument.
Excessively high temperatures will cause timber to dry out, even in high humidity environments, and as such conditions should be avoided. Leaving a guitar in a car boot on a hot day or exposing it to direct sunlight for prolonged periods can very quickly dry out an instrument and even weaken glue joints. These conditions can lead to warping and splitting, some of which can be difficult to repair.
Warranty and Humidity
At Maton, we warranty our guitars against defects in workmanship and materials. Our warranty does not cover humidity damage so it is advisable for guitar owners to familiarize themselves with climatic extremes and to take appropriate measures to prevent damage when faced with extreme conditions. Remember it is easier to take a little care than it is to repair a damaged
Download Humidity Care Guide
Caring for a satin finish
Soak a soft microfibre cloth in warm water and wring out. Wipe guitar using gentle pressure, then wipe dry. Do not allow water to sit on your guitar for any period of time as a ‘milk’ stain may result. Never use silicon or oil-based products (many popular surface polishes/waxes are silicon-based) as silicon inhibits refinishing and some oils (such as lemon oil) may penetrate the finish, again inhibiting refinish, and it may be detrimental to the acoustic properties of the instrument should they soak into the timber. Gloss guitars are finished in hand-rubbed polyurethane. Maton uses the best finish available and each coat is painstakingly rubbed down to ensure maximum shine and durability while maintaining Maton’s ultra thin specifications.The final coat is hand rubbed and buffed to bring out the full beauty of the timber.
Maton’s satin finish is a Mirotone pre-catalysed nitrocellulose lacquer designed for tone, appearance and durability. It was created to have minimum impact on the natural tone of the wood while sealing and protecting it from moisture and wear. Lacquers can be produced with varying degrees of hardness; the harder the finish the greater the surface tension created and the greater the impact on the vibration characteristics of the wood.
Therefore, super hard finishes (such as those used on floor boards) will resist wear but severely dampen the ability of the wood to vibrate. This has been and continues to be an ongoing challenge for all instrument makers. We believe our satin finish provides the optimum balance between tone and toughness. We have been using the same finish since the mid-1990s with great success. It must be noted that the satin finish does develop shiny patches when it comes into repeated contact with other surfaces such as clothing and skin. This is entirely normal and contributes to some of the patina that characterises a well-played instrument. This shiny effect is more noticeable on black satin guitars and dark stained guitars than on lighter, natural finished guitars. The shiny patches can be removed by lightly scuffing the area with very fine abrasives but we do not recommend this as the scuffing action is a form of very fine sanding which will ultimately wear through the finish. The guitar can also be re-coated with a fresh topcoat but the same patches will develop again as they are a function of playing, which is what the guitars are meant for.
For more information on humidity and guitars please call our service department or ask your local Maton dealer.