Temperature and Humidity
Your harp is made mostly from wood, which has characteristics similar to your own skin. The harp will expand and contract with temperature or climate changes. Just as constant exposure to hot and dry climates will cause drying and cracking of skin, woods, lacquers and glues will react similarly. Unfortunately, the finish of harps cannot be returned to their original texture with a simple moisturizing cream like your skin. The same applies to cold and dry or hot and humid climates. The best advice is to treat the harp as you would treat yourself.
Even though it is nice to show off your harp in your picture window, direct sunlight or heat will adversely affect the lifespan of your harp. Do not place the harp over or next to heating vents or in direct sunlight. Placing the harp in direct sunlight not only heats and dries out the wood, but it can also bleach the stain and lacquered finish on the side that is in the sun. You should also not place your harp next to air conditioners or take it outside without a protective cover. Never leave your harp outside in humid or rainy weather or in front of an open window that allows rain to land on your harp. If your harp does get rained on, immediately wipe it dry with a soft cloth.
When transporting your harp in a car or van, always pre-heat your vehicle in cold or damp weather. Likewise, if your home is air-conditioned in the warm and humid months, cool your vehicle before loading the harp. It is always best to give your harp a short adjustment period when moving it from place to place in any climate.
When traveling in cold weather, keep the harp covered with its protective cover. Extra blankets can also be helpful. In hot weather, keep the vehicle well ventilated and keep the harp out of direct air-conditioning and sunlight. If you have a gold gilded harp, seriously consider getting protective covers for the column and base.
Even in the summer the harp can be loosely covered. Reflective solar blankets are available at your local camping goods store and can be used to keep the sun off your harp. If the harp is covered too tightly in hot weather, the lacquer can become soft and your cover will imprint on the surface of your harp.
If you play outside engagements, you should never place your harp on the grass or dirt. Place it on and old carpet square or on a square of plywood. This will give you stability as well as protection from the elements. If the harp has to sit outside for an extended period of time, try to move it into the shade and cover it loosely. Never leave the harp outside in the rain. Never leave the harp in your vehicle overnight in any weather.
The ideal humidity for maintaining your harp should be between 40 and 60%. More or less humidity can damage the harp. If you live in a very dry climate such as New Mexico or Arizona, we recommend that you use a humidifier in the room with your harp, maintaining approximately 50% humidity. A Damp-It humidifier is also useful. If you live in a very humid area, such as Florida or the Chesapeake Bay area, use a de-humidifier in the room with your harp.
Harps enjoy a consistent environment in terms of proper temperature and humidity. Just remember, if you are uncomfortable, your harp will be uncomfortable also.