Humidification for concert halls
and musical instruments

Pianos and many stringed, plucked and wind instruments are made of precious woods. These are made of “tonewoods” — woods which grow slowly and straight and have particularly good sound properties. Tonewoods are air-dried and stored for many years until all tension in the wood has been released as far as possible. Many different wood types are used, depending on the intended use.

A property that they all share is that they are hygroscopic. They contract when they dry out. When they absorb water, they expand. Therefore, high-value instruments are produced in a climate with monitored air humidity and temperature (depending on the manufacturer, generally at 20–22 degrees Celsius and approx. 40–55% relative air humidity).

The air humidity to which such an instrument is later exposed and how much time it has to adjust has a major influence on its longevity, playability, sound and, last but not least, its appearance. Musical instruments suffer greatly in excessively dry air. Even if a warm instrument comes in contact with cold air, its surface dries out, because it heats the very air which is absorbing its humidity.

How much air humidity does the body of
a musical instrument need?

Indigenous instruments are often made of the bodies of woody fruits — for instance, a pumpkin. European classical orchestral instruments are often made of very thin woods. Whether it be a violin, guitar or a double bass the finely processed surface of such instruments is often less than 3 mm thick and has a very large surface area.

In some cases, different woods are stuck together, sometimes they are fitted with inlays. The different wood types which are incorporated experience varying degrees of contraction. In specialist jargon, the term “shrinkage” is used.

Beech has a high degree of shrinkage, while that of mahogany is small. The thinner the woods, the more significant their reactions to a change in the climatic ratios. This applies all the more, the higher the value of the instrument. Then it is made of even thinner woods and coated with finer varnishes.

Why concert halls should provide a comfortable room humidity for the visitors

Those who attend performances in operas, theaters and concert halls, or even in churches as a venue for organ or choir concerts, expect to be able to enjoy art with as little disturbance as possible. This includes, among other things, a well-tolerated humidity level that is pleasant for your own physical well-being. A balanced air humidity of between 40 and 60 percent provides optimal conditions for this.

What is important: Especially where many people gather in a small space, insufficient humidity reduces the self-cleaning mechanism of the respiratory tract and weakens the resistance of the immune system against viruses. Here, optimum air humidity provides effective protection for your own health!

Condair quality

Because professional planning is the basis for functional quality and energy efficiency, we are happy to assist you with your project right from the planning phase.

Reference project
Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg

Optimum humidity for the
main concert hall of the Elbphilharmonie