Ukuleles are wonderfully simple instruments – in fact, that’s one reason why they’re more popular than ever. Even though your uke is easy to pick up and play, it does need a little bit of TLC – and keeping the wood properly moisturized is a big part of that.
What is a Ukulele Humidifier?
Ukulele humidifiers are small moisture-filled containers that fit inside your ukulele case or onto your ukulele itself, gradually releasing some of that moisture as needed, but without dripping and damaging your instrument. The best ukulele humidifiers keep your instrument properly moisturized but not too damp. A consistent humidity level between 40 and 50 percent is ideal.
Some ukulele humidifiers protect your instrument from over-humidification too – that’s a win-win, particularly if you live in an area where humidity tends to rise and fall as the weather changes.
Does my Ukulele Need a Humidifier?
Probably. All the best ukuleles are made with wood, which is composed of cells that react to atmospheric changes.
This might not sound like a huge problem but over time, the tiny changes that take place within those cells can cause your ukulele to warp or crack.
It can also cause damage that’s hard to see, but that can manifest as problems such as fret buzz or bad action when before, your uke was a joy to play.
Humidifiers stay in your ukulele case and keep it at a constant level of humidity so those changes – and the damage they can cause – don’t happen.
If you have several instruments, you can achieve a similar effect by keeping them in open cases in a room with a humidifier – just remember to add an individual ukulele humidifier to the case every time you take your ukulele on the road since going from a cool house to a hot car or vice-versa can cause drastic changes in humidity inside the case, causing damage over time.
Your climate can help you decide if you need a ukulele humidifier or not. If you live in a warm, humid environment and you don’t use a ton of air conditioning inside your home, your instrument might be OK.
If you live in a hot, dry region, then you might need to use a ukulele humidifier year-round to keep your instrument from drying out. Consider reaching out to other instrumentalists in your area and find out whether they use humidifiers year-round, part-time, or not at all. Sometimes a little extra guidance goes a long way.
3 Best Ukulele Humidifiers Reviewed
With no further ado, let’s take a peek at the best ukulele humidifiers on the market right now. These are really simple devices, but not all are created equal.
As ukulele humidifiers go, this one from Boveda is easily among of the best. I love it because it’s so easy to use, and it’s got two-way humidity control.
That second factor is crucial in climates where the weather changes and humidity levels rise and fall. I just tuck it in the case with my ukulele and it automatically maintains humidity at the right level. When conditions are dry, it releases a little bit of moisture into the air around my uke. When the humidity spikes, it absorbs excess moisture and prevents the wood from swelling up.
There’s nothing for me to remember, other than to feel the humidity pack from time to time. These packs get hard when it’s time to swap the old one out for a new one. If you want, you can use multiple packs to extend the amount of time between changes.
- Affordable and convenient
- Easy to use
- No leaks
- Two-way humidity control
- Might need frequent replacement in unstable environments
Here’s another outstanding option. The Oasis OH-18 ukulele humidifier protects your instrument from the inside out. I really like the fact that it goes right inside your uke and stays put even when you’re traveling – and if it runs out unexpectedly, you can just fill it up yourself.
Just like other ukulele humidifiers that made their way onto our “best of” list, this one gets an A+ for user friendliness. It starts to look a little crinkled when it’s time to refill and if you shake the humidifier, you might be able to hear the humigel beads rattle inside.
Adding water is easy, just use the syringe that comes with the humidifier. How often you’ll have to refill the humidifier varies depending on conditions but the average is a week to ten days. You can add water before the beads run out, which is probably ideal anyway.
There is one (very minor) drawback and that is that the little beads that hold the water inside the tube can come out if you accidentally overfill it. If this happens too often, you’ll have to replace them. In addition, the humigel beads can stop working over time, so the manufacturer recommends replacing them one a year in average conditions and more often than that in areas with high constant humidity. Oasis refill packs make the process simple, and they’re relatively cheap.
- Keeps your ukulele hydrated from the inside out
- Great for really dry climates
- Need to wait a few minutes for water to be absorbed after refills, otherwise drips could happen
- Doesn’t remove excess moisture when conditions are too humid
Last but not least, the Music Nomad ukulele humidifier uses an anti-drip sponge that holds 10 times its weight in water. This is my least favorite of the three options but it is better than nothing. It works well for anyone who is on a budget and who tends to play often.
If you live in a dry area, you’ll want to check the sponge frequently because it is prone to drying out. This isn’t hard – just flip open the top and add distilled water if you need to.
- Cheap and reusable
- Hydrates from the inside out
- Easy to use
- Needs to be checked frequently – runs out of water in a day or two in some cases
- Has a tendency to run out of moisture quickly in really dry climates
- The sponge can develop mold (but it can be cleaned)
Once you’ve chosen a humidifier for your ukulele, be sure to check it often – particularly in the beginning. Leaving your instrument unopened for a long time can lead to mold growth and running out of moisture in dry weather can destroy your uke.
In addition, you might want to pick up a digital hygrometer, which provides you with a readout of the humidity level inside your ukulele case. This is the best way to be absolutely certain that your instrument stays safely preserved, no guesswork involved, and ensure your peace of mind.
That’s it for now! Aloha, and happy strumming.