Our Process

Our Process and Unique Technical Approach

American Music Furniture is your premier provider of solid wood humidity controlled instrument display cases and furniture for your home, music room, or studio. Our mission is to provide the absolute best solutions to preserve, protect, humidify, and display your guitars and other stringed instruments. American Music Furniture helps keep your instruments safe, tuned, and ready to play.

After all, what’s an instrument worth if you can’t enjoy it at its best?

The Technical Challenge

Wood is like a sponge. As it absorbs water it expands. As it loses water, it contracts. Wood expands much more across the grain of the wood than along the length of the grain. That is why guitar tops and braces tear apart. The grain of the top is going the opposite direction from the grain of the braces glued underneath it. A wood board may expand as much as ¼” for every 12″ of width (across the grain).

To avoid damage, the instruments need to be kept at a constant 40 – 60% relative humidity. Depending on the manufacturer, the “ideal” humidity is usually 45 – 50% at 70 degrees ambient temperature. From 40 – 45% and from 50 – 60% your guitar tone may be noticeably different, but generally won’t sustain structural damage.

The Damage

When wooden instruments expand and contract with opposing woodgrains they start to come apart. Wood tops often crack, sides split, and braces come loose. On guitar necks the fret wire will extend beyond the neck as the neck dries and shrinks. Damage is of particularly a problem on vintage and other valuable instruments since even with expert repair the instrument value is reduced.

Read more about the importance of proper instrument storage.

How We Build

We face the same challenge that luthiers do when they build guitars. Luckily, we don’t have to make our cabinets sound good. If you simply get a nice old wooden cabinet and put a humidifier in it, you’ll quickly find that the cabinet expansion and contraction will start tearing the cabinet apart. Doors will expand from the 45% internal humidity level and simultaneously contract from the low ambient humidity in the room will warp at the corners.

We pay close attention to the orientation of our wood grain so the entire cabinet can expand and contract together. We have also developed a patented “Horneff” door design to avoid warping caused by the humidity difference between the inside and outside of the cabinet.

Many of the techniques we use are directly avoided by cabinet makers that don’t have to deal with a humidity difference between the inside and outside of the cabinet.

All the materials in our products have been tested by the C.F. Martin & Company Quality Control Department and determined to be safe for your guitar finish. We are the only company that has been tested and approved.

Handcrafted and American Made

Unlike some of our competitors, we build our cabinets in our shop with a staff of musicians and woodworkers watching every step and inspecting every cabinet before it goes out. All our standard woods are locally sourced. Our humidification comes from U.S. companies.

We’re a small company founded by three musicians that grew tired of fighting the humidity battle each winter. Our employees are all paid a “living wage” and take great pride in their work.

Our Technology

We offer active humidification and dehumidification in all our cabinets. We are proud of our track record of quality and reliability, and carefully test technology before we deploy it. Our humidifiers are evaporative and only require about five minutes of maintenance a year.

Our dehumidifier is an ionic membrane manufactured originally for museum cabinets and security camera housings. We adapted it to our cabinets and integrated it with our controllers so that it is an option for customers that live in high humidity locations in the summer. We have thoroughly tested our cabinets with CO2 evacuation tests to ensure that the humidity control is well suited to the cabinet sizes we offer.