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Cold Weather. How cold is too cold?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by jdepriest, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. jdepriest


    Sep 20, 2005
    Waynesburg, Pa
    How cold does it have to get for you to NOT take your “good” bass to a gig? When possible I go directly to the gig and get there as early as possible so the bass can acclimate before I have to play but sometimes that’s just not possible. Or I have to make a stop on the way home afterwards.

    So, how cold is too cold to leave your upright in the car? Most of my gigs I double on electric and I do own a good EUB. Should I leave the upright at home till spring?
  2. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    My policy. No cold is too cold. It is a good idea to let it acclimate for a minute when you get to a gig but it's your bass. You have to play it.

    That said your bass should NEVER be left in your car.
  3. moles


    Jan 24, 2007
    Winnipeg, MB
    I've never let cold weather stop me from taking a bass to a gig. I'm not sure how cold it gets in PA, but let me tell you it gets cold here :)
    My ply does get most of the work, but I did have to take my hybrid Eastman on a trip up north once, in the middle of January. It's a smaller 3/4 and the 4/4 ply wouldn't fit in the van.

    It was only a 4 day trip, but it was cold (even for Manitoba), and I know with the amount of gear packed in that van, none of the heat was circulating back there. The douchebag singer also ran off with the van (and all the gear, including my bass) to go drinking one night, and let the van sit at the side of the road until 5 or 6 a.m....A little stressful for the bass's first real road trip, but the point is it was fine at the end of it all. It's got a somewhat robust top anyway, so that I'm sure was a factor.

    Any other circumstances - it's probably highly recommended to take the regular precautions, which I do. Warm the car up before bringing the bass out. Don't leave the bass in the car for hours after the gig. If you have to park blocks away from the venue then try to do a drop off at the door first.

    Little things like transporting it a few blocks by foot in the freezing cold are what I worry about, simply because the temp. change is so drastic as opposed to a slow drop if it's left in the vehicle.
  4. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    I think a major consideration is if your bass is acclimated to your environment, and has gone through the seasons a few times. If you get a new bass from overseas, or an old bass from a less harsh climate than yours, you should be careful the first couple of years in terms of drastic changes. I think humid to dry can be a bigger problem than warm to cold. I've never had a problem due to cold temp, just low humidity in the winter.
  5. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    My CCB arrived last year on the coldest day of the year to that point, and I had to leave my hatch open with its large shipping box to get it home. After letting it get used to the house for a full day, I finally opened it, and it was alright. I didn't have any summer gigs to speak of that weren't air conditioned, so except for what it may have endured on the ride over, which a hot warehouse or shipping container is not out of the question, it hasn't seen anything else. It has also seen the humidity extremes from loading/unloading in the rain to as dry as it gets.

    Now, the bigger question is the player: I don't play well in the cold, so I take EB and/or tuba with a Kelly 18 Lexan mouthpiece instead. If it is a ply bass, it's going to be alright. I wouldn't take a carved bass into temperature extremes for all the reasons talked about above -- cracks will happen.

    In my opinion, the bass should be treated like the player: if it's comfortable for the player, with some acclimation, it's probably alright for the bass. If it's not comfortable for the player, it may not be comfortable for the bass.
  6. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    iiipopes... where do you live?

    Everything that Eric says is right on.

    Unfortunately we have just have such temp extremes here that it's practically impossible to have any kind of controlled environment. In the winter the bass might go from the roughly 68 degree 40% humidity practice room to the 20 degree car with the heat blasting and gradually getting to 70ish degrees and very low humidity to the schlep through the winter wonderland to the gig to whatever madness we find at the gig and then repeat on the way home. I used to fret about it, now I just try my best to let the bass warm up a bit before I take it out of the case and keep my office/practice room fairly controlled. Outside of that there's not much else you can do.

    There is so many other hazards to, from, and during a gig that a temp dip is the least of my worries.
  7. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Long ago, while living in South Bend, I was forced to leave my Kay in my car at -10 F for a period of time, and I think it accelerated the checking of the varnish. But AFAIK the Kay used some non-Stradivarius-approved varnish, so this may not be applicable to normal basses.
  8. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    It's the old rule that if you're uncomfortable, then so is your bass. I agree with fingers. No cold is too cold if it goes quickly into/out of the car and you turn on the heat. Yes, it's good to let it acclimate. Leave it in the car? Never.
  9. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Southwest Missouri. Now, most of the time weather is moderate, but we can see way below zero farenheit and way above the century mark as the seasons progress, with everything from 10% to 100% humidity. My son has camped with his Scout Troop with documented -15 and +110. In decades past, I have literally frozen and burned my lips on my tuba/sousaphone mouthpieces on outdoor gigs before the Kelly Lexan became commercially available.

    Yeah, with some acclimation, the bass can probably take it, being ply, but I do mainly jazz/dance band gigs, with the occasional country/"classic" rock/rockabilly gig, so why take it into extremes when I don't have to so I can keep my gloves on and spank a slab instead if it's too cold at the gig?

    If it is really, really hot or cold, I'll start the car a few minutes before loading to get the heater or AC going, as a gig bag does have enough insulation properties to get the bass in and out, and I don't worry about transport, and the venues are pretty well moderated for temperature.

    What concerns me in the cold, which goes for amplifiers as well as instruments, is the condensation that can occur on the instrument or amplifier if it's left to get too cold before bringing it back into a warm environment, especially now that a lot of folks, me included due to sinuses being prone to going haywire from a broken nose some decades ago, have a humidifier to keep the relative humidity up where it needs to be otherwise.

    Oh, yeah: I forgot to mention -- I have a genetic circulation/spontaneous clotting condition. I'm pretty much done with gigs in temperature extremes.

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