The unsung hero of orchestra
If you’re in orchestra, you’ve probably heard someone talk about Dampits. But what are they? Take a moment to make sense of them here:
What is it?
A Dampit is a special humidifier specifically designed for wood instruments, primarily strings. It is a sponge that rests inside the instrument and provides an appropriate amount of moisture.
Why is it important?
Dampits are important because they protect your instrument.
Wood expands in humid environments and contracts in dry ones, so a stringed instrument is at a higher risk of damage during these cold Illinois winters. You can’t see it, but you can certainly feel and hear it:
- Pegs on strings will loosen and your string will lose it’s pitch
- Seams open when wood shrinks
- Pitches go sharp because the cold temperatures shrinks the string
Keeping your instrument humidified properly will prevent these issues, and the Dampit provides that humidity.
Who uses them?
Dampit inventor Ralph Hollander first created the tool for his personal instrument: the violin.
Dampits for orchestral strings (viola, cello, and bass) followed soon after. Today, they’re available for guitar, mandolin, harp, clarinet, and plenty more.
If your instrument is wood, there is probably a Dampit for you.
How do you use it?
- Run the Dampit under water (or submerg in water) for about 20 seconds
- Pinch the end of the Dampit to get rid of excess water.
- Gently wipe the outer tube dry.
- Insert the Dampit into your instrument:
- Hold the Dampit by the rounded end and gently push into the instrument through it’s resonating chamber.
- The entire Dampit should easily fit inside the instrument.
- Re-dampen as needed
Many teachers recommend re-dampening every other day.
You can play while your Dampit is in your instrument! The Dampit’s design is sleek and unintrusive, so the integrity of the sound isn’t affected.
If you don’t have a hygrometer, get one. They track the humidity inside your case (or wherever you’re storing your instrument) so you know when the wood is in the dry-air danger zone. You want the humidity to be between 45%-55%.
If you don’t prefer Dampits, try out some different humidifying systems. Every wood instrument needs to be humidified to be protected. There are lots of other options, so don’t risk damaging your instrument!