What precautions do you take when you go to a gig/practice when it's cold outside?
First, my setup; I have a fully carved bass, a fairly thick (defiantly thicker than average) soft case, and a minivan. What I've been doing is warming up my van first (10-15 minutes depending on the outside temp), then bring my bass from inside and directly into the back of my van then turn the rear heat off. I figure I don't want it blowing air directly on my bass the whole ride. Is there anything else I can or should do? I've considered a hard case for peice of mind against bumps if nothing else but I can't afford one right now because I just spent $5.5k on my bass.
Now how cold is cold? Well this year I've been lucky it seems to get up to about 20F each night I'm taking my bass out but tonight I'm looking at about 10, and tomorrow just below 0.
I've never warmed the car up before transporting the bass. No issues. I really wouldn't be concerned about it. Same with bumps. That being said, I did not want to take the bass out when it got down to -14º a few weeks ago. Your bass should be fine on it's back or side in a soft case. Just don't have the neck do any supporting work (even then it will probably be ok).
Large humidity swings can do damage, and I've had a few cracks over the years because of that.
One suggestion I learned from woodwind players is when you're indoors at your destination, leave your instrument in its case for a period of time and allow it to gradually re-acclimate to the new temp/humidity.
I have taken the bass out when it is cold. Best thing is let your instrument slowly warm up when you get to your destination.
Transporting the instrument from the house or venue to the vehicle shouldn't be a problem. The best advice (as others have stated) would be letting the instrument acclimate to the house or venue. Around thiry minutes I believe is enough time for this to happen, so arriving to the gig as early as possible is the best solution.
As much as a hard case might seem like a good idea, unless you plan on flying with your bass or having it under a bus/in a gear trailer regularly, they are a horrible idea. Even the new carbon fibre cases are still heavy and bulky, not to mention extremely expensive. You might not pay what you paid for your bass for one, but last time I looked, you could buy a very nice bow for the amount of cash needed.
Make sure you have a good bag. There are lots of options, (what you have now might be perfectly ok) and as long as you are careful with door frames and crowded stages, you should be ok. Your bass will still occasionally get bumped, but there is not a lot you can do about that. I have yet to meet a bassist (some of which have spent a couple more digits on their instruments) who regularly gigs with a hard case. I'm sure there are a few out there though.
As for your car and temperatures, I have been playing bass in Southern Ontario that gets winters down to -40 (I'm not sure what that is on the other side of the thermometer) and I have yet to have a temperature related problem. Big swings in humidity is your real enemy in the winter time. As for letting your bass acclimatize when you arrive, it likely doesn't hurt, but isn't as necessary as woodwind players. Keep in mind that woodwind players blow hot, wet air into their instruments. If the instrument is cold and dry and you add hot and wet without giving it a chance to get close to normal again, you're going to have a problem. I've actually heard that it's a good idea to take your bass out of the bass bag when it is coming in from the cold, so there isn't a chance of condensation happening inside the bag and damaging the finish. That could also be an old wives tale, but so far it hasn't hurt my bass.
The common piece of advice is don't leave your instrument in a climate where you would not take a nap, leave your kid(s), or leave your pet(s). This is important to remember in the summer too when it gets really hot in vehicles. As long as you don't leave it in a non-climate controlled space for too long, you should be ok.
I try to remember my thermal underwear and keep a bottle of jd in the trunk, and always keep my wife nearby in case I get cold.
Oh, you mean my gear? I remember to tune before playing and use grounded outlets
I had a fairly huge crack in the top develop on Sunday. The bass came from a room that was about 50% humidity, into a warm car, into venue, where it sat the the bag for about 20 minutes. Total outside exposure about three minutes. Opened the zipper a saw cravk along bass bar from the edge to a bit below the bridge. Called the Shanks, and found out that their experience this year has been a high number of serious damage. Their suggestion is to reduce room humidity to 35%, as the average venue humidity is likely to be somwhere around 20%, or 60% less than music room at 50%.
Sorry, DD. Tell us about your bass. Older or newish? The Rubner? How long has it been in your area? Shanks advice seems spot on.
I was very bummed out when I unzipped that bag! Rubner c. 1960's. 5 String 3/4. Bought it from Tom Wolfe (consignment) in VA in November. Nice sound and pretty solid. Anyway, thankfully I have Clarion insurance which will cover this, and the adjuster basically told me exactly what the estimate needs to say for this to be covered, so I am making the trip to Shanks on Saturday. Linda told me that there has been so many incidents related to the cold dry weather that their loaner stock is basically in a revolving door. Kind of hoping one is revolving in at about noon in two days!
Well, if it has lived south for a long time, coming up north to our winters may have something to do with it. Probably needs to be babied.
I have a new (2010) carved bass in Madison WI, and take it out maybe once a week or so. No special precautions in cold weather. I don't think it can dry out that quickly, but of course I could be wrong. My house has a whole-house humidifier, that I keep at 35 percent.
Around 1990, there was a huge cold snap in South Bend where I was living at the time, and an emergency forced me to leave my old Kay in my car for several hours at -20 F. The bass survived mechanically, but the finish really took a beating. Well, it was a beater bass in the first place, and I know Kays have a nontraditional varnish.
Slightly off topic, but a couple dangers to note are:
1. The bass getting wet from picking up snow on or around the case, which then melts in accordance with Murphy's Law.
2. Slipping and falling on ice. Be careful!
I know that glue is more brittle at cold temperatures. I've done heat cycle testing of glue joints for mechanical assemblies, and it's the coldest temperatures where things typically let go.
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