When a thirty year old dampit breaks off inside a violin, Jake Jacobs of Troubadour Music is your man. Using a band repairman’s tool with a hook on the end, Jacobs carefully pried the bit of dampit, which had been rolling around inside the violin, through the F hole.
“You don’t want the dampit to inadvertently knock the sound post,” he said.
A dampit is a long piece of sponge encased in perforated rubber. They are made for a range of instruments including violins, cellos, guitars, as well as clarinets and harps. According to dampits.com, the dampit was invented by the composer and violinist Ralph Hollander in 1966 and works as a humidifier inside an instrument.
When using a dampit, “Distilled water works best,” Jacobs said. “Minerals can leave residue.”
Jacobs also recommends that an instrument should be allowed to adjust to room temperature, that it shouldn’t be played right away.
The dampit operates by being immersed in water, the outer tube is dried, and then placed inside the instrument. With instruments such as cellos, violins, and violas, the dampit is inserted through the F hole. The dampit can remain inside the instrument while it is played without any tonal loss.