Owner's Manual: The Proper Care of your Voyage-Air
Guitars and Humidity
Guitars and Heat
Instructions for Unpacking
Opening & Folding Your Guitar
Cleaning your Guitar
Guitars and Temperature Extremes
Truss Rod Adjustment
Using the Barrel Wrench
Voyage-Air Guitar and Humidity
Keep the guitar in an environment with normal humidity. In the winter, with a furnace or radiators running much of the season, humidity is literally cooked out of the air.
Nature loves a balance. In an overly-dry environment, what happens is the woods of your guitar surrender their natural moisture content in a futile effort to humidify your room. And this is Really Bad for the guitar.
The guitar case offers a closed environment where you can easily control the humidity. You can also put a guitar humidifier inside the case. There are many humidifiers available, and any of them will do the trick. It is typically a sponge-type material encased in something like a plastic holder. You keep the sponge part moist and stored in the case along with your guitar.
Cold Weather and Humidity
In the winter there’s usually record-breaking cold weather in much of the USA and around the globe. As a result, many of us are building fires in the wood stove, fireplace, or running the furnace much of the time to keep our homes warm.
While this is great for our comfort, realize that all of these heat sources remove the normal humidity from the air in our homes. They make the air very dry. And for the woods of a guitar, sometimes, the humidity level can sink down to dangerously low levels.
As the air in your home becomes dry (less humid), this tends to dry out the natural moisture content in the woods of the guitar. In the worst case, this can cause fret buzzing, frets protruding from the sides of the neck (as the neck woods shrink), or even cracking of the carefully engineered woods of your Voyage-Air guitar.
To prevent this: try to store your guitar at room temperature as much as you can, and keep it away from heat sources. The Relative Humidity of your environment should be about 45-55% (normal). In fact, the Voyage-Air Shipping and QC Facility maintains 50-55% Relative Humidity at all times, to ensure the moisture stability and quality of all guitars that we ship.
There are a variety of inexpensive gauges (Hydrometers) that will show the actual Relative Humidity (i.e. RH value reading) for your home. All well-stocked hardware stores and electronics outlets have digital gauges like that, and will show you the current RH level of your home.
Here’s what you can do to protect your Voyage-Air guitar in a dry environment:
As much as possible, keep your guitar zipped-up and stored in the backpack case. This helps isolate the guitar when it must be stored in a dry environment.
There are ‘guitar humidifier’ products that you can get at your local Voyage-Air Dealer, or local music store. There are a variety of designs, and all are inexpensive. Put a humidifier in the case before you zip it up, and the natural moisture balance of the woods will be maintained. Check your guitar at least once a week. Never let water contact the woods of your guitar!
Guitars and Heat
Heat is the Enemy of your guitar. In general, your guitar is safe and comfortable at the same temperatures that you are safe and comfortable. A guitar can withstand heat up to about 110-degrees (F).
Above that temperature, the glue that holds the instrument together begins to soften. In fact, luthiers who repair guitars use "heat guns" to heat glue joints and remove wooden parts for repair. Few realize the pressure that the strings exert on a guitar. If your Voyage-Air guitar is folded open to the playing position, the strings will exert a combined pull of more than 100 pounds on the bridge of the guitar - exactly the same as hanging a 100-pound weight from the bridge!
Now, imagine that 100-pound weight pulling on the bridge as its glue gets hot and begins to soften. The bridge can easily lift, or even pull from the top of the guitar. This is really bad. Heat is the enemy. Protect your guitar from heat.
Wood shrinks. When subjected to heat, the wood of your guitar suffers. The natural moisture-content is baked out of the wood, and the wood begins to shrink. Usually, the first sign that a guitar has been subjected to heat is the ends of the frets begin to protrude from the fretboard. Other signs are bulges and warps in the top of the guitar, or binding that has become loose or actually popped away from the edges of the tops and sides.
If your guitar must travel with you where it's warm (or downright hot), keep the guitar in its Voyage-Air carry case. All Voyage-Air cases have padded insulation that helps protect the instrument from heat.
Never keep your guitar locked in your car on a hot day. The interior of a closed car can easily reach 170-degrees! On a hot day, never leave your guitar in the direct sun -even in its case.
Unpacking & Assembling Your Voyage-Air
|Thank you for choosing a Voyage-Air guitar. We know that the ability to travel with your guitar will inspire you to practice, play and share your music with others for many years to come. Now, get ready to enjoy the “Future of Guitar Travel!”
Follow these simple steps to make your Voyage-Air guitar ready for play:
click here for a printable pdf
IMPORTANT! Please read these step-by-step instructions carefully before you attempt to assemble and start playing your new Voyage-Air guitar! Personal injury and damage to your guitar can result if it is not handled properly.
This video gives an overview for unpacking and folding open a Voyage-Air guitar. It concludes with the steps for folding and packing your Voyage-Air Guitar.
The Voyage-Air Acoustics
The Voyage-Air Electrics
Making the TransAxe DuraTrans Case into a Backpack
Cleaning your Guitar
Wash your hands. Surprisingly, the number one tip for keeping your guitar clean is to wash your hands before you play the instrument. Not only does this remove any dirt and grime on your hands, it will also reduce the natural skin oils before you play. All of this helps keep the guitar clean.
Wipe down the guitar. Each time, after you play your guitar, you should wipe it down with a soft cloth. Dedicate this cloth to wiping down your guitar, and don't use it for anything else. Pay particular attention to the strings: you will find that the strings last much longer if you wipe them down at the end of each playing session. There are special 'guitar wipe down' cloth products that are specially treated to make this an easy task.
Get a paint brush for dust. Take a trip to your local hardware store, and purchase a soft-bristle paint brush. One that's about 2-inches wide is ideal. With this brush, you can whisk away dust that accumulates under the strings at the headstock, as well as under the strings near the bridge. Please, use a new paint brush for this task; don't try one that's been used for touching-up the baseboards around the house!
Guitar Polish. If your guitar already has smudges and grime from some period of practice and play, use any quality brand of Guitar Polish, such as the products from Martin, GHS, and Planet Waves. Dedicated guitar-polish products are specially formulated to clean and preserve the finish of your instrument, the can restore the "like new" sparkle of your guitar. Do not use any products that contain silicone (such as Armor-All).
Car wax and furniture polish. Simply stated: don't use this stuff on your guitar. These types of products can cause a wax buildup that is difficult to remove, and may cause long-term damage to the finish of your instrument.
Guitars and Temperature Extremes
Temperature change should be gradual. Optimally, you want to keep your guitar with you, and free from the hazards inherent in any temperature extremes. Of course, this isn't always possible, but temperature extremes are more likely when you're traveling with a Voyage-Air guitar!
In regards to temperature extremes, realize that a fine guitar is a collection of different kinds of wood - all glued together to produce the complete instrument. When heated, all woods expand slightly. This is normal, and taken into account when the instrument is designed.
The important point is that different woods absorb heat and expand at different rates. If a guitar is subjected to a sudden temperature change, some of the woods will expand or contract much more quickly than others. At best, this results in unnecessary stress to the instrument. At worst, things begin to fly apart.
The very worst case scenario is where a guitar is stored for some period in the ice-cold trunk of a car, and then immediately brought to play in a warm room. Well, even worse would be to immediately play it while sitting near a wood stove or a fireplace. The thin wood top of a quality guitar can actually crack from such stress.
If your guitar is ice-cold to the touch, give it some time to warm up to the room. Open the case an inch, and allow about 15-30 minutes for the instrument to gradually come to room temperature.
In general, a guitar may be safely frozen and thawed without damage. However, over time, continuous freezing-and-thawing cycles may result in "spider web" cracks in the finish of the guitar.
Guitar stands are not for storing your guitar. When you own a beautiful instrument, it's a natural desire to want to display your prize and keep it within easy reach for play. This isn't the best idea, for a number of reasons.
Storing your guitar on a stand makes it susceptible to... everything. The guitar can be knocked over. Things can fall on your guitar. Your cat might mistake your pride-and-joy for a scratching post.
A guitar on a stand is also not protected from temperature and humidity extremes. For utmost protection, you should keep the guitar in its case at any time you are not actually playing the guitar.
If you use a guitar stand to keep your guitar handy, consider it as a place to hold the instrument while you take a break.
Avoid stands with rubber pads. Over time, the chemistry of the guitar's finish interacts with the rubber pads. This usually results in an unsightly band or stripe at the contact point. At worst, the rubber can actually eat into the finish of the guitar. Very recent guitar stands have improved synthetic pads that are supposedly safe for the guitar's finish. If you want to use a stand like this, please double-check with its manufacturer to make sure that the stand won't harm the finish of your Voyage-Air guitar.
If you choose to keep your guitar on a stand for some period of time, make sure that the guitar is not exposed to direct sunlight. Sunlight can cause uneven heating of the instrument. Long term, it can also prematurely age or damage the finish of the guitar.
In most cases, the string tension is NOT released before loosening the strap button bolt and folding a Voyage-Air guitar. To ensure your safety, pay careful attention to the correct procedure for unfolding and folding your Voyage-Air guitar. We strongly recommend that you watch the demonstration on our HOW IT WORKS page (also included on DVD with every guitar). Also, please read the instructions provided with the instrument before you unfold and fold the guitar for the first time. There is a tendency for the guitar neck to spring outwards after the bolt is loosened, and this is perfectly normal. Be aware, and be prepared for this spring effect: it's the key to safe and proper folding/unfolding and storage of your guitar.
Related to String Tension is the relief (bow) or reverse curve (back-bow) of the guitar fingerboard. Every Voyage-Air guitar is equipped with an adjustable truss rod, installed within the neck. This truss rod can be adjusted from the peghead, using the wrench provided with each guitar.
For optimum playing performance we suggest that you let the guitar acclimate to the environment (temperature and humidity) in which it will be played. Then adjust the truss rod to set the action to the preferred height above the 12th fret. (NOTE, all Voyage-Air instruments are set-up and played prior to shipping. However, different climates and environmental conditions may affect the guitars playability. A second look, and personal adjustment in your specific environment, will insure the best performance from the instrument.)
After you're completely satisfied with the playability of your Voyage-Air guitar, we recommend that you leave it unfolded, with the guitar neck locked in the playing position. This allows your instrument to 'settle in.' While in the playing the position, the string tension on the neck will create the necessary relief (bow). When the neck is folded, the string tension will be released.
All Voyage-Air guitars are designed to be folded and unfolded as many times as your traveling needs require. There is no danger in folding and unfolding it constantly. However, removing tension from the neck may require some time for the neck relief to come back into the neck once in the playing position.
All Voyage-Air Guitars are equipped with adjustable truss rods. The purpose of a truss rod is to adjust the neck to counteract string tension. The reasons for truss rod adjustments vary and this both strengthens the neck and allows for adjustments of bowed or warped necks. Common reasons for this effect are climatic changes and changing the string gauge or tuning pitch. String tension changes can affect string height, also known as the action.
To adjust the truss rod, remove truss rod cover located on the headstock.
Sight DOWN the neck from the headstock in order to properly gauge the bow (pictured left above) or hump (pictured right above) the neck has taken.
Insert supplied Allen wrench (size: 5/32nds). If bowed, begin tightening (clockwise) or, if the neck has a hump, begin loosening (counterclockwise) the rod. Turn very gently at small increments and continue to check the neck as you proceed with each fraction of a turn.
Truss rod tension can also be measured by installing a capo on the first fret and holding the string at the fret where the neck joins the body. Insert a thickness gauge between the string and fret at the 8th fret. There should be about .010 clearance (app .254mm). This clearance is called “neck relief”. If there is too little neck relief, there will be fret buzzing, and too much relief can cause poor intonation and a high action. If buzzing continues after the neck is straightened, additional fret lowering or filing may be required.
Printable pdf version click here.
How To: Use Barrel Wrench to Tighten Thumbscrew Grommet
Sometimes, due to movement from travel, the grommet inside the thumbscrew assembly can change position causing the thumbscrew not function properly. This may be expressed as a small ‘gap’ on the heel of a guitar, and the thumbscrew not being able to be completely screwed in. This is correctly easily with the supplied barrel wrench included with every Voyage-Air Guitar.
First, here is an explanation of the parts of the thumbscrew (the male half) that are inside of the neck heel.
• Thumbscrew Retainer Grommet (This is what you adjust with the barrel wrench, pictured top-left)
• Sleeve (pictured top-right)
• Thumbscrew (pictured bottom)
Now, here is an example of a thumbscrew grommet that is has been shifted or shimmied into an incorrect position.
INCORRECT: Thumbscrew is all the way in and grommet is visible
To correct this issue, take out the supplied Barrel Wrench which is included with your Voyage-Air Guitar.
Place the guitar on a solid, non-scratch surface. Make sure that the Voyage-Air is in the folded position and the thumbscrew grommet is visible and accessible.
Connect the end of the barrel wrench to the grommet protruding from the thumbscrew.
[Connect Barrel Wrench to Grommet]
Rotate the thumbscrew clockwise until the grommet is no longer visible.
CORRECT: Thumbscrew is all the way down and the grommet is NOT visible