I’m about ready to pull the trigger on a custom but I worry about keeping it out and playing it where I live – Florida. It’s so humid here. On my other guitars the tops swell up sometimes, especially in the summer. Then my action gets affected and it becomes very hard to play. I was thinking of getting my custom braced heavier but I don’t want to take away from the sound. Any pointers?
Todd Ferguson in Palm Beach
I hear you! The Martin factory is in eastern Pennsylvania which gets very humid in the summer. I’ve experienced the exact same problems you’re talking about with my guitars. It’s sort of nature of the beast but it’s part of the reason our guitars sound so fantastic. It moves and breathes and we don’t over-brace to compensate for anything.
Before you pull the trigger on your custom consider this – A VTS top. Not only do they sound full and played in but they’re also significantly less affected by climate changes. The cells of the wood do not pick up moisture like a brand new spruce top. VTS tops are way less susceptible to the swelling that can occur in the summer or in an overly humid environment. With that said, they’re also less susceptible to hollowing that can be typical during a Pennsylvania winter with little moisture. The process to make a VTS top is really fascinating. Hear more about it from Fred and Jeff here, they actually brought the VTS tops to fruition at Martin.
As for the guitars you have at home, monitor the tops and de-humidfy or humidify depending on what Florida’s giving you at the time. I do have a winter saddle and summer saddle I use. They are slightly different heights so I can swap them out if need be.
Go see your local Martin dealer and order that custom! Let’s do it!
Emily has worked at Martin Guitar for 10 years. She has been cross-trained in every aspect of guitar building and currently serves as the Martin Guitar Custom Shop Administrator. Dear Emily is an advice column that will appear bi-monthly on the Martin Guitar Blog.