Storing on the wall
Doug Rierdan — Jan 28, 2015 07:58PM HST
I live in San Diego, where it is warm and not overly humid
I love having my ukuleles displayed on my wall. Is this bad for them? I worry about exposure to light, dust, and dry air.
8 Community Answers
Ned - Feb 01, 2015 at 11:38AM HST
Dry air is the greatest danger. Wooden instruments are very susceptible to humidity in their environment. I live in Southern California too, where the relative humidity can change quickly when the Santa Ana's blow. The quick rate of change, particularly drying, can be very hard on wooden instruments like ukuleles and guitars which are constructed using thin materials. The stress of drying can easily lead to splits and cracks and it can happen over the course of as little as a few hours time. (it actually to take longer to properly humidify an instrument than it does to dry it out.)
Plywood construction bodies hold up better than solid wood under these circumstance and it's generally safe to display plywood instruments as you suggest with less concern, though no guarantees.
You could hang your ukuleles and monitor the RH, moving them to cases if you know it's going to dry out but that doesn't cover the quick drop in RH we can get in So.Cal. (BTW, I would STRONGLY recommend that you keep humidifiers in the case for any solid wood instruments when you store them there.)
Another option is to build, or have built, a display case that is humidified. These can actually look very nice.
Of course, you can always just keep them hanging and cross your fingers. AS a disclaimer of sorts, I must admit that I have an old Harmony soprano made of solid mahogany hanging on the wall that has never had an issue with changes in humidity. I've also had a solid mahogany guitar body go "ping" as it split when the RH dropped quickly. The catch is that you never know.
My best recommendation is that if you treasure your ukulele's, keep them in cases with humidifiers and buy some "junkers" do hang on the wall.
Dawn C - Feb 01, 2015 at 11:38AM HST
I've had mine on the wall for years. I also live in San Diego, and have never had a problem. I make sure they stay clean and out of the direct son and windows.
Clifford Ayers - Feb 01, 2015 at 11:38AM HST
If you do not know how much humidity is in your room, I would suggest getting a Hygrometer. This will allow you to measure the room temperature and most importantly the humidity. You need to make sure the humidity is not below 40%, with an optimal range being between 45-55%. Low humidity causes wood to dry out and crack. Also, if the uke's get direct sunlight it can cause problems. I had my instruments hanging/displayed for a little while too, but opted for the humidifier and hygrometer pairing inside a hard case. This provides the most stable humidity for the wood and protection from physical damage by people grabbing instruments off the hangers to play with them when visiting, to slipping out of the wall mount. Dust was a problem, and had to constantly keep at polishing and moisturizing the wood/fretboard, etc. with oils since they are exposed 24/7. The Herco humidifiers sold here are what I have placed in several types of instrument cases, and I don't have to worry about problems due to air conditioners/heaters/fireplace drying out the wood and ruining them. Hope this helps, best of luck!
Cynthia Morrill - Feb 01, 2015 at 11:38AM HST
I understand entirely why you would want to display your ukuleles. Still, I would hesitate doing so unless the uke is more for decoration than anything else. Dust can blow inside the instrument (I know this from personal experience). There is a reason why museums and art galleries are so concerned about light, direct light can fade finishes. My biggest concern, as a fellow Californian, is the fluctuations we experience when it comes to humidity and temperature. I have a gauge that not only measures the current moment, but also tracks the high/low for the past 24 hours. Let's just say it's sobering. Think of it this way, a great looking case only adds to the drama when you take your ukes out for show and tell. To keep my ukes in good shape, I keep them in cases and I use Oasis humidifiers that I tend to weekly.
Gabriele Amodeo - Feb 01, 2015 at 11:38AM HST
I also keep my ukes hung on the wall. Although it is likely better for them to be in a case with a case humidifier, I try to minimize potential damage by keeping humidifiers going during the winter. My advice is to get a small hygrometer and monitor your humidity - it should be no lower than 40%.
I see it this way: I can either 1) keep my ukes in pristine condition in a case, but know that I'll play them far less often, or 2) keep them on the wall where it takes some extra effort to keep them in good condition, but I'll actually pick up and play them more frequently because they're in sight and within easy reach. I choose option 2. If I'm not playing my ukes, what's the point of having them?
Melissa Scott - Feb 01, 2015 at 11:38AM HST
I prefer to display mine on the wall as well. I'm in humid TN and use a room humidifier in the winter (due to dry heat), but I would like to know if long-term display on a string swing might cause the neck to warp or other problems I should be aware of. Thx!
Russ T - Feb 01, 2015 at 11:38AM HST
I love having my ukes and guitars out where I can get them on a whim. I feel I play more and they are the art on my walls. I purchased a room humidifier that easily keeps the entire space moist and the wood happy. They do get a little bit dusty, but that just gives me an excuse to give them a little love. The only time my instruments go into their cases is for transport and I've never had any issues.
Rick Beauregard - Feb 01, 2015 at 11:38AM HST
I store my ukes and guitars on the wall in Socal too. I've owned my classical guitars over 30 years and have seen no ill effects. And with them out I play more. They look pretty nice too.
I wish I could attach a picture. I have a 1920 National Triolian, and an inexpensive Kalia, a Jose Ramirez and a Dauphin classical guitar, Taylor steel string, and Fender 1062 P-Bass.
I'd love another nice baritone uke to put up there!