Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Bass Travel and Storage Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Mike Carr, Feb 23, 2006.


  1. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    I'm flying back to China this Friday to do some more gigs. I'm taking my Czech-Ease, terrific for it's purposes, and flys for free. I will be missing my Shen Willow a lot while I'm gone. My questions: is there anything to be gained by lowering the pitch of my strings a little bit for the flight? As to the Willow, it's going to be sitting home unused in it's flight case for several months. In Southern California we don't have too many weather and humidity issuses, but should I drop the tension a bit on it's strings as well, or will it stay good with it's strings at regular pitch while it just sits there?
     
  2. Hi Mike,

    For us Jazz-starved music lovers living in China, where and when are your gigs?

    I'll leave answering your question to others, as I have no experience flying with basses. Hope you have a good flight!

    Markus (Uncle Lee)
     
  3. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    I'll be in Hangzhou starting next week for two months steady at one club, then back in Shanghai after that. If anyone's interested PM me for the details. So what about the string lowering thing, anything to it?
    I'm thinking about just leaving the Shen at pitch. Bringing the Gage CE Bass down, just a half or whole step, not so much to where the post might drop in transit. Any reason not to do this while flying?
     
  4. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    Is this too dumb a question? Years ago, many years ago people used to tell me "loosen your strings before you fly", this was when I toured playing Fenders. With no sound-post to worry about, I figured, why not, couldn't hurt. But as this practice relates to double basses, the only advice I've ever sought out before was from a former teacher. He thought it best to lower the pitch about a half a step or so, just to be safe. Just wondering what you cats that repair basses might advise, or should I be content to simply worry about the baggage handlers "Alley-Ooping" my bass into the cargo hold, losing the bass or driving a fork-lift through it?
     
  5. Perhaps we need to up the ante somewhat... what about throwing in some bad advice and seeing how people react?

    So here it is: tune the strings up one and a half octaves before the flight. After the change in temperature and humidity during the flight, the bass will arrive in tune.

    Seriously, I don't think it's a stupid question. I just flew with an acoustic guitar that actually arrived in tune, but would also like to know how this transfers to double basses. Good luck in China Mike!
     
  6. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    Thanks! I just dropped it just a little, maybe down a whole step at the most, should be fine. The last time I flew anywhere with it, the bass had came thru baggage real cold with lots of condensation. Pretty wet, to tell you the truth. Didn't seem to do it any harm though, I just wiped it down real good as opened it up at the airport. A good reason why it makes sense to fly with plywood bass.
     
  7. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    I'm personally at a loss to give advice on this topic. I understand that airlines will generally no longer put basses in their heated baggage areas (which have largely been eliminated to allow the carrying of paid cargo). So your instrument may be subjected to temperatures of -40 degrees (F) and near-vacuum conditions. These conditions can probably cause glue joint failure and cracking. So I don't honestly know what is the best thing to do. Someone needs to market a pressurized, heated bass case for air travellers! Meanwhile, NEVER fly without adequate insurance...
     
  8. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    Sorry, I know it's been a while since I posted. Been busy bringing jazz to the folks here in Hangzhou, China. Part of a piano trio playing lots of Oscar Peterson style arrangments of standards and even some classics too. Swan Lake and Chopin done jazz style, with a Romanian piano player that would make Oscar proud. This music is not often played in this part of the world, people here are enjoying us very much, it's still new to many of them.
    My bass made it here just fine, and is holding up in the cold and very dry weather. It had been close to and even sometimes freezing here the last couple weeks, but spring looks to be finally coming soon. about the only issue bass-wise is that I've had to play around with my bridge- height adjusters a bit, no big deal. Very glad to have a plywood bass in these conditions, I would have worried a lot about using a carved bass here.
     
  9. Good to hear your bass made it to China! I probably won't have time in the next few months because of work/study commitments, but just in case I get a chance to go to Hangzhou ... how long will you play there for?
     
  10. mje

    mje

    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    This didn't seem to jibe with my memory, so I did a little research. According to the web site of a cargo shipper I checked, unheated cargo areas range from 30 to 70F. It seems there's a lot of thermal mass and insulation in all that luggage and cargo, so on shorter flights the cargo hold doesn't cool much at all.

    The cargo area on airliners, whether heated or not, is still part of the same pressure vessel as the cabin, for structural reasons. You can't make a light, efficient pressure vessel with flat sides. If you don't pressurize the hold, the floor or ceiling adjacent will buckle. A number of DC-10s were lost because of a design flaw that allowed the rear cargo door to open at altitude. This resulted in depressurization of the cargo hold, which caused the floor to buckle and damage flight controls
     
  11. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    Glad to hear there is pressure in that part of the plane. As far as the temperature, I've had clients tell me their basses were so cold after an asian flight that they were weeping condensation when the case was opened. Another client flew from NY to Shanghai and his bass was taken off the plane and then set in the sun on the tarmac (during the summer, no less!). Somehow the only thing that happened to the bass was that the cover melted into the finish. A lot of other instruments from the orchestra were severely damaged, however.
     
  12. Mike Carr

    Mike Carr

    Feb 5, 2002
    Hong Kong
    A.S.

    I too have experianced the weeping condensation phenomenom after an Asian flight. Once my bass came down the over-sized belt I opened it to find a lot of water on it, could have used a mop if I had one handy! I had a towel in the case, when finished drying the bass it was wringing wet.
    I think plywood is a smart choice for anyone that flies a lot.
    Uncle Lee, I hope to stay working here in Hangzhou thru the summer, come see me if you can.
     
  13. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    I've flown to Asian (without a bass) and I don't recall having my clothes in the suitcases being wet. Is there something about a bass that promotes this condensation? Is it the air cavity?

    Anyway, what about putting those silicone packets in the case with the bass? You know, those packets that you find in packing with electronics and things (only bigger).

    Just thinking out loud.
     
  14. mje

    mje

    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    I'm trying to figure out where all that moisture came from! My best guess is that moist air from the cabin was sucked into the bass case as the plane descended, and pressure increased. Since the bass was colder than the heated cabin, the moisture condensed out of the air.

    A truely air-tight case would prevent this. That would be hard to do, though. Most air transport cases are designed to vent.
     
  15. The idea about silica gel is a good one; that stuff is quite effective. You can find big, reusable packets of it from auto restoration places, as a lot of guys use it to keep trunks, carpeting, and the like dry and fresh, particularly in older cars that might leak a bit. Once it gets wet, you just put it in the oven and "recharge" it. I'll see if I can go find a couple links...
     
  16. Here's a 500g one that absorbs its own weight in moisture and is disposable, while
    these guys have a number of different types, including some for bigger applications like trucks and cargo holds.