Thursday, April 14, 2011

Acoustic Remedy - the Case for Convenient Play & Display


Proper humidity control can be your best friend if you are a collector or player of high-end acoustic instruments.  Failure to keep your instrument properly humidified over the long-term (especially here in Minnesota) can cause serious damage and ruin your investment.  Unfortunately, almost every time you play your guitar it is exposed to less than ideal temperature and humidity conditions (unless you always play in a climate controlled room or happen to live in a moderate zone where the humidity is always between 45% and 55%).  The best thing for a guitar is to keep it in a humidity-controlled case as much of the time as possible, but that is not typically conducive to displaying a prized instrument or convenient for playing it.  Enter Acoustic Remedy Cases.  Their Clima-Stand series of products provide a mix of humidity control, elegant display and convenient access for the player/collector wanting to showoff and use their favorite instrument.  I've had a couple of months to try out the SW model, and I must say that it definitely belongs on the list of products I don't want to send back.


Over-all Build & Aesthetics



There is no mistaking that this case is a piece of furniture, but it's a nice one.  They offer it in a number of different hardwoods, as well as in a cheaper veneer.  The review model actually had pieces of both, and there was no appreciable difference aesthetically.  The construction is rock-solid and the hardware is not cumbersome.  I did wish for a little more clearance for the headstocks on a couple of the guitars I tried in it - but they build to suit, so just take careful measurements of your guitar when ordering.  It comes with a standard hanger and pads behind the guitar to avoid any dings or scratches.  


Humidity Control



There are a lot of systems out there for humidity control, from in-case sponge units of all shapes and sizes to automated, active electronic systems in multi-instrument cabinets.  There is one thing we all hate about all of them: adding water.  It's always a mess (if you're clumsy like me anyway), and it's easy to forget - meaning that your instrument may not be optimally maintained.  Through their partnership with Humidipak, Acoustic Remedy Cases come basically maintenance free.  According to the guys at Acoustic Remedy, the case needs two Planet Waves humidity control packets every four months or so.  That is consistent with my experience - the case maintained humidity around 50% for the four months I got to test it out.  I checked the humidity every day with two separate hygrometers in two different locations in the case.  Once again, I'm in Minnesota, and had the case over the winter.  If it can do it here, it can do it anywhere. The packets actually provide two-way control, reducing the humidity in the case when necessary also.  I was not able to test that here, given that we have 0% humidity half the year, but excess humidity is much less a concern as it affects the structure of an instrument much less. 


Convenience

The real question is: how accessible is my guitar going to be in this thing?  It's just another display case if it doesn't do that well.  The answer?  Much more convenient than a regular case or display unit, but not as convenient as an open-air stand (but we've also established that leaving your guitar out in an uncontrolled environment will eventually destroy it).  All in all I've loved using it. It's handy, the technology is convenient and reliable and it looks great.


Bottom Line

This case is great for the living room or music room if you want to make your prized guitar a centerpiece.  The Humidipak technology is great, though it will cost between $10-$20 per year for humidity control packets (but if you're like me, you spend the same because every summer you lose the humidifier you bought last year).  For perfect, reliable humidity control it's well worth it - especially for high-end instruments (if you spend more than $2,500 on a guitar you shouldn't be pinching pennies when it comes to taking care of it).

The cases run from $750 to $1,600 (or more if you want something crazy), so you won't go buy this for your mom's old Yamaha.  But, it is a good investment for a high-end factory or hand-made instrument.  Acoustic Remedy offers their cases in a variety of different woods to match just about any instrument or room, and the build them to your specifications.  My recommendation for anyone interested in one of these cases is to think about exactly what you want for a few weeks before ordering and ask them for it when you do.