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Author: Subject: Weather Durable Oud
Oud Lover

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[*] posted on 4-28-2018 at 07:23 AM
Weather Durable Oud

Hello Everyone,

I have a difficult question. We live in Tokyo which presents issues for our ethnic instruments. Summers are very hot and humid, winter is very dry and can be quite cold. The problem comes in due to how apartments and homes here are built and how climate control works.

Most places, including our's, has very little insulation so whatever it is out side, it is inside. Central air is nearly unheard of in domestic homes. So we tend to heat/cool the rooms we are in and rarely leave anything working during the day and overnight to keep costs down.

I have found that some ethnic instruments can endure the changes. My Rubab, Tanbours, Saz from Istanbul are fine. But we have had Uyghur and other instruments suffer problems. The two Ouds we had in the past (1. beginner Oud from Egypt and 2. A high end Barbat from Iran ) both suffered issues from summer weather.

I am wondering if anyone else out there has experience dealing with similar conditions? And if you have a recommendation for a maker, or instructions for a maker, who could build an Arabic oud that would be less likely to suffer with these changes.

We have a Godin which does fine here, but would like to have a proper acoustic Oud as well.

Thanks in advance for your help.
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Jody Stecher
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[*] posted on 4-28-2018 at 11:21 AM

An oud built from wood that has been seasoned in a climate similar to that of Tokyo and built in such a climate is likely to do well in Tokyo.

An oud made in a year-round humid climate from wood that has been seasoned in a humid climate ought to do alright in the Tokyo summer. In the winter they are likely to crack, but this can be prevented by storing them in a case with a humidifier. My favorite humidifier is a slice of potato.

An oud made in year-round dry climate might well come unglued during a Tokyo summer. I don't know a remedy for that.
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Oud Junkie

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[*] posted on 4-29-2018 at 03:24 PM

To add to Jody's comments.

It sounds like the climate in Tokyo may be similar to the climate here in Ontario, Canada. I live in an older house without climate control so experience extreme conditions in the living quarters ranging from a Relative Humidity (RH) in the 20% range in a wood stove heated environment when it is minus 30C outside in winter and RH 80% during the stifling heat and humidity of summer.

When I moved from the damp climate of Northern Britain to Canada one of my lutes (that was constructed in my woodworking shop in Britain - not climate controlled) ended up with a split sound board during the dry Canadian winter climate - as did a piece of furniture I had built. I made and fitted a new sound board for the lute during a Canadian winter and have not had any problem since. I now make my instruments mainly during winter time when relative humidity is low. I keep my instruments in a separate closed room year round so they are less affected by high RH ambient conditions in summer although I refrain from playing my lutes when humidity is very high especially if I detect the smell of hide glue but have never had a joint failure due to glue softening. The instruments do not sound well when it is humid anyway. I believe that the low/high humidity cycling over time helps to relieve any internal stresses of an instrument to improve its acoustic performance - but only if hide glue is used in the construction.

Wood is hygroscopic so continues to absorb/expel moisture even when fully seasoned and stable (air dried over decades and then conditioned further to around 8% moisture content) so shrinks in dry conditions and swells in humid conditions. An instrument assembled in humid conditions may well suffer splitting due to wood shrinkage when subject to dry conditions (the most adverse effect) but an instrument assembled in dry conditions may not suffer permanent damage when the wood swells in humid conditions. Instruments made from wood that has not been properly seasoned may be more subject to splitting and warping - a problem found perhaps in cheaper instruments.

Of course there is no way that a buyer can be certain of the humidity conditions when an instrument was assembled by a maker or even if properly seasoned wood was used. To minimise risk of damage, storing instruments in a closed space at a relative humidity of around 55% would be the way to go.

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Oud Addict

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[*] posted on 4-30-2018 at 08:30 AM

I wonder if anyone's tried making a carbon fiber oud?
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Oud Maniac

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[*] posted on 5-4-2018 at 06:06 AM

Quote: Originally posted by tkmasuda  
I wonder if anyone's tried making a carbon fiber oud?

I know that Philip Shaheen makes Carbon Fiber ouds.

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