I relocated to Melbourne in 2000 after living in Japan for a year. One of the first things I did was buy a Maton acoustic. It was a beautiful EM225c and looked something like this:
This guitar has been around the world. I took it to play music for a season in the ski fields of Andorra in 2002. I bought it back to Melbourne for a couple of years, before taking it to England for a few more years and then hand carrying it back to Sydney in 2011. The move to Beijing in 2013 caused a few problems as the extremely low humidity causes the neck to bend which needed some professional attention, but otherwise all has been well. If anything the guitar has aged well and the sound now seems warmer and fuller than when I first bought it.
So now I’m in Hong Kong. I love the climate here but it’s a humid place and wooden instruments really struggle here. I just wasn’t aware how much they struggle until a few days back, when I saw this:
The bridge of the guitar has lifted off the body. Not good. Not good at all. I immediately called the guitar tech at Tom Lee expecting him to be able to glue it back in place without too many problems, but no. Apparently this happens often to guitars in Hong Kong, and it’s a long and difficult process to repair this particular problem.
First, it takes 2-3 months. Yes, months. They need to get the guitar into a special low humidity room for 1-2 months to get the moisture out of the wood. Then they go about repairing or possibly replacing the bridge but only after the guitar is back to optimal dryness. The cost? $2,000 HKD – or about a full third of the money I paid back in 2000. Hmmm.
So yesterday I went and bought food grade silica gel so at least it won’t get worse while I decide what to do.
I’m thinking that there might be other options to repair the guitar, perhaps even with Maton in Australia- I mean I can fly to Sydney return for a little more than the price Tom Lee quoted!
In the meantime it’s back in its case, protected from the hostile Hong Kong air:
I also put my Gretsch electric in its case with silica gel this morning, as a precaution. I need to buy some moisture measuring hygrometers for these two cases and aim to keep the levels around 40%.
Moral of the story? If you have an instrument that you love and don’t want to be systematically destroyed by the Hong Kong environment, store it in a case when you are not using it. If you live elsewhere check the humidity regularly, if it deviates far from 40-50% consider urgent measures!