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Care & Feeding

Introduction

Loucin guitars are finely crafted acoustic instruments. We use only premium solid tone woods, carefully and patiently seasoned. We then build and finish our guitars to exacting tolerances. The result of this fine craftsmanship is a tone, a look and a feel that is rich, warm and beautiful. Our guitars are also hand crafted to be played, and with a small amount of care and periodic maintenance, they’ll deliver a lifetime of playing. Understanding what affects your guitar’s well-being, both positively and negatively, will help you enjoy your guitar for decades.

Humidity & Temperature

Fine guitars are made of thin pieces of solid wood that are glued together. These are directly affected by humidity and temperature. Humidity is the amount of moisture in the air. Temperature affects the amount of moisture that air can hold. Both of these factors affect wood because it is naturally “hygroscopic”. This means that it takes on and gives off water. A guitar that absorbs too much moisture expands and swells. This distorts the shape of the guitar, its tone and playability. High temperature and humidity together can weaken glue joints and even cause them to fail. With prolonged exposure, the glue under the bridge will weaken, allowing the bridge to pull off. 

Wet Guitar:

  • High action
  • Swollen top
  • Fret buzzing in the high registers
  • Distorted back and sides
  • Low volume
  • Finish cracks
  • Bindings separated
 

Overly dry conditions and lack of humidity can be detrimental to your guitar, causing the wood to shrink and crack. It can also cause poor tone and improper intonation. In dry regions or northern climates, where heated air is common in winter, simple guitar humidifiers may not be sufficient. Household humidifiers may be necessary to maintain a proper environment. 

Dry Guitar:

  • Lowered action
  • Frets buzzing and lifting
  • Fret ends sticking out from the fingerboard
  • Dips in the top or back
  • Finish and/or wood cracks
 

Gradual changes in humidity and temperature will generally not harm a well-made guitar. At Loucin, we build and acclimate our guitars in an environment of 44% relative humidity and a temperature of 72 degrees. So if you keep guitar pretty close to these ranges, you should have no problems. The biggest danger caused by humidity and temperature is rapid or extreme changes. That’s because different parts of the guitar shrink and expand at different rates. Extreme temperatures can wreak havoc, too. Heat weakens glue. Cold “chills” lacquer causing finishes to crack. While you can’t control the weather, you can control your guitar’s environment. Here are some tips.

  • Keep your guitar in its case when you’re not playing it, as it’s a lot easier to control humidity in a smaller volume of air.
  • Purchase a home hygrometer/thermometer to keep tabs on the relative humidity and temperature. Adjust your home environment as necessary. Plants and humidifiers add moisture in dry winter months. Air conditioning controls humidity in the hot, humid summer months.
  • Avoid storing your guitar near sources of hot, dry air, or cold, damp areas.
  • Never transport your guitar in the trunk of your car. Temperatures inside car trunks are extreme in any kind of weather and it’s the quickest way to destroy a guitar. Even in the passenger compartment your guitar can be subjected to extreme temperatures.
  • Guitar humidifiers that fit inside the sound hole can be very effective but must be used with great care to avoid water damage. We recommend the Oasis OH-1
 

Finish Care

Loucin guitars are finished with multiple coats of high-grade lacquer, hand-sanded between applications to bring out a rich shine. The result is thin, durable and acoustically compatible finish. The best way to preserve this finish is to keep it clean – wiping off perspiration and fingerprints with a soft, damp cloth. If you must use commercial products, avoid those with solvents, silicones or abrasives. Remember: polishing is not cleaning. Polishes remove finish along with dirt. Fingerboards can occasionally dry out, but require only a very small amount of oil to restore. Less is always best, the idea is to treat your fretboard…not marinate it. We would like to advise our players that many types of instrument stands and straps that employ petroleum-based foam, rubber or vinyl can cause damage over time when in contact with nitrocellulose lacquer finishes. The safest way to avoid finish damage when using a stand is to cover the foam/rubber parts with a soft cotton cloth. The safest long term storage for your instrument is always in its case and we recommend always removing your strap after each use, no part of your strap should be in contact with your instrument when stored in your case.

Action & Playability

Our guitars are adjusted at our shop with a light/medium string height. Measuring at the 12th fret we set the low “E” at .080″ and the high “e” at .070″. This height can be raised or lowered to suit individual playing preferences by sanding the bottom of the saddle or installing a new taller saddle. Guitar tops rise and fall with age and exposure to humidity. You might even notice a “bellying” or bulging of the top near the bridge when this occurs. This is perfectly normal; in fact, we build a certain amount of flex into the top just for this reason. Our necks are also adjustable, we use FlexStrong dual action truss rods. This however is an extremely sensitive operation and should be undertaken with a great deal of caution. A little adjustment can go a long way. A qualified repairman can adjust your guitar to return it to a comfortable action. This neck adjustment affects the amount of relief in the neck, we prefer .009″. The other aspects are nut and saddle heights. All three must be taken into consideration when dealing with action. All Loucin guitars come with free lifetime set ups from Garren’s Guitar Rehab.