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Cold and Damp

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by TSP, Dec 26, 2006.

  1. I'm currently looking for my first bass, mostly to play folk music. I often play guitar at festivals and camping events - in a tent somewhere in the middle of a field - and I'd like to be able to play bass in this environment too. Should this affect my choice of bass? Would a laminate be happier with the cold and damp than a fully-carved bass or hybrid?

    I'll always be able to keep the bass out of the rain and put it in my car when it's not being played, but I don't want to ruin my bass with a couple of hours of playing in the cold, and staying in tune as the temperature drops would be a benefit too.

    Thanks for any help you can give!
  2. My opinion is that if a bass can't handle conditions like that, there's something wrong with the instrument. Obviously a somewhat older instrument that's settled in a bit is probably going to be more stable than a brand new one, and a very old bass will have old repairs and issues that might flair up, but I don't think there's any need to comprimise the quality of your instrument.
  3. You are in England so my experience in the American Blue Ridge might not be the best comparison. That said, my experience is that my carved bass has defied the conventional wisdom and been just fine in the cold and damp campgrounds in the Blue Ridge and Smokies. The rainfall up there qualifies the area as a rain forest, just not a tropical one. I have one of Bob Gollihur's Bulgarian beasties and it did just fine up there in a highly varible (temp and humidity) 4 day festival. Of course it didn't freeze, nor did it get boiling during the day, but the fluctuations were wide.

    Contrast that with a hybrid Chrisopher I had out on approval that started delaminating on the ribs when the temp took a dive after a 95 degree (F) day with about 70% humidity. It seems like plywood would do better. But think about it: you have a hardwood veneer of maple that is varnished laminated over some kind of softer filler wood that is open to the elements on the inside. The expansion coefficients are not going to match. True, it probably will not crack or split because the grains of the laminates are crossed, but delamination is certainly a possibility. I don't think the plywoods are any better with variable weather really. I do think an older instrument either ply or carved might be less susceptible to damage from extremes. The real big problem is sudden change, and it probably applies to both of the them.
  4. Well, I drag my Prescottish out every year to at least three or four week-long festivals (Galax, Mt Airy, Clifftop etc)that always include at least a few heavy late-afternoon downpours if not day long squalls. I don't think it is the smartest thing in the world but it is doable. I have not suffered any damages but I have had to take extra care and deal with the inherent anxieties of such a decision. This is an area I know well and my advice is to get a great plywood and don't worry about a carved bass for your particular musical inclinations and experience. Today I played a fabulous plywood bass (New Standard Cleveland) that was louder than my enormous Prescott and built tough as a house. A bass like that would be a wonderful instrument for what you need it for...

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