(Marty Lanham is an instructor at Guitar Craft Academy Nashville.)

As the summer ends and we prepare for cooler weather, it’s important to pay attention to the effect that heat in our homes can have on acoustic instruments, including guitars. Low humidity can cause instrument damage, shrinkage, cracks in the finish or wood, or even more serious problems.

I always advise guitarists to humidify their instrument rooms, if possible. You can measure and monitor the humidity in your room using a hygrometer. Another way to assess your guitar’s dryness is to run your hand along the side of the fingerboard. If your fret ends stick out along the edges (and didn’t before), it’s a sign that your fingerboard has shrunk. Don’t worry — this condition is fixable, but it’s a sign that something needs to be done.

If your instruments are on a stand, I suggest putting them in their cases until the weather changes. An easy way to maintain proper humidity in this closed environment is Planet Waves Humidipaks, which can be placed inside a guitar case and automatically maintain the optimal 45%-50% relative humidity level inside. They last up to six months and can eliminate the guesswork and potential mess of refilling a humidifier.