Cold weather on solid state amps

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by zaviere, Dec 5, 2020.

  1. zaviere


    Apr 20, 2012
    So I’ve searched a little bit and the general consensus is that cold weather (37~ degrees) should not have any effect on solid state amps. Last year around February I played a gig with a gk mb500 fusion amp. And about two songs in, the volume dropped drastically. Barely audible. Luckily I had a backup, my tc electronic bh500, plugged it in and no problem.

    Then yesterday I played a gig with the tc electronic bh500 and in the first song, same thing! Volume dropped. This time no backup. I turned up the master volume to compensate which did ok but I could feel like it was feeling a bit weird.

    The only “constant” is the bass manufacturer. That and the cold weather. First gig I played with an xotic xjpro vintage in blue with maple neck. But the gig yesterday was with my second xotic. Same make and model but different color. Fresh set of batteries (literally second gig with these batteries). No pedals, straight into amp, both gigs.

    What do you guys think? Now I’m wondering if I need to get a new amp. I can’t have my amp bugging out on me beginning of the gig!
  2. msb


    Jul 3, 2002
    Halifax,N,S. Canada
    Despite living in the Great White North I've never had an issue . I generally try to give things time to warm up before turning things on or tuning .
    jnewmark, petergales and eriky4003 like this.
  3. Cold parts are prone to have condensation develop on them. This could be related to the problems.
  4. SJan3

    SJan3 Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2010
    Happened with 2 different amps? I blame the bass. The batteries, although fairly new, may not be able to handle temps in the 30°s
  5. zaviere


    Apr 20, 2012
    See and I thought same thing. But if it IS the bass and the batteries, wouldn’t I have had the same issue on the first gig. Cause my gk amp did it, and right away mid song I swapped out to my tc electronic and no issues for the remainder of the gig.
  6. SJan3

    SJan3 Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2010
    Yea, strange. I wish I had the answer for you.
  7. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa Boogie, Development Engineer-Genzler (pedals), Product Support-Genz Benz
    Cold weather isn’t an issue with solid state, otherwise all the electronics in cars would be a challenge in winter, especially in some parts of the country.

    It’s possible that condensation could be an issue IF the amp was stored in the cold and brought into a warm, moist (high humidity) environment, but unlikely with both amps.

    Are you using any pedals?
    -Asdfgh- likes this.
  8. zaviere


    Apr 20, 2012
    No no pedals. Straight in. In this case I went from the car(warm) out into the outdoor stage. But it was out there for about 30 min before I switched it on. Maybe it’s the preamp in the bass?
  9. gebass6

    gebass6 We're not all trying to play the same music. Supporting Member

    Are you playing outside at 10 below?
    Are you not inside a building?
    Erik Asma likes this.
  10. TheReceder


    Jul 12, 2010
    I can't see 30 degree whether being an issue, but could (extremely) bad solder joints be effected by more severe cold due to contraction?

    For the record... where I'm from, 37 degrees might be considered T-shirt weather to some in the winter.
    Jackcrow, DTRN and LP Custom like this.
  11. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    Did the GK or other head ever return to normal operation/work properly again after that either on its own or after a tech checked it out? When I hear temperature in that range I start thinking about battery performance. While it may seem counterintuitive that the battery worked at first and then dropped below the needed output, that's what can happen as temperature drops and you place a load on the battery.

    The battery would have been warm when the bass came out of the case/gig bag and then got colder as you were performing in the low temp environment. Perhaps the back-up head could deal with the lower output better??

    All of this is obviously a guess and the status of the amps after the gig could quickly rule the batteries in or out of consideration. If the amps never worked again I'm still not sure I would attribute that failure to the temperature you were operating at. There are no components I can think of in those SS heads or the bass preamp that should mind temperatures in that range. If you were outside, were you on generator power?
  12. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa Boogie, Development Engineer-Genzler (pedals), Product Support-Genz Benz
    That’s not going to be the problem then.
    TheReceder likes this.
  13. Gsnorgathon


    Jan 15, 2020
    Sea Addle
    How long had the amp been turned on before you started playing? I'm wondering if keeping the amp warm(ish) would help.
  14. zaviere


    Apr 20, 2012
    Actually yes they do work normal once it’s the next day and I plug them in at home. And I can’t really say about the batteries cause I did not check them when I took the bass out of the case. I’m guessing maybe it is a battery issue but then how do you combat that?
  15. Living and playing in Michigan for 56 years, mostly with solid state amps has taught me one thing. Load your stuff and go to the gig, set it up and play it, take it home and put it back inside when you get there. Cool places are OK for storage, Cold places are not. Don't store it in the garage, band vehicle or trailer, or any other completely unheated area in the winter. Do not pre-load it the day before the gig. If it gets a deep seated cold like that, it must warm up slowly or it will sweat condensation, inside and out which may make tiny short circuits that can cause any number of problems. Out in the cold for a few hours for transport? No problem. I pre-loaded my amp the night before the gig one time in 20 degree weather and when I set it up the next night, it sounded like a bowl of Rice Krispies going "snap, krackle, pop". After a while of heating itself up, it stopped and ran fine but it scared me as I didn't have a spare with me at the time.
    2 lessons learned. Don't let your amp get a deep seated cold, and don't leave home without a spare (you don't get to pick the time when it breaks down).
    fauxtoe, WestyBassBob, Ggaa and 2 others like this.
  16. zaviere


    Apr 20, 2012
    I’d have to say I flipped it on once I setup and tuned really quick. It prolly sat there turned off for about at least 30 minutes when the drummer finally showed up . Didn’t have time for a soundcheck so basically flipped it on, set my volume, noodled for about 5 min before the first song started. Volume was up, loud, what I’m used to. Then all of a sudden about 20 seconds in, it went out. I almost thought my amp just crapped out completely but then I could hear that it was still there just barely. I checked to see if I tripped something (don’t know what there is to possibly trip) checked if the amp was running hot or something. I couldn’t find or think of anything. I just turned the input gain a tiny bit more and turned up the master to at least get something for monitoring.
  17. zaviere


    Apr 20, 2012
    Absolutely. Totally agree with the spare amp thing. I normally do, but I since had to sell my smaller gk mb500 and was left with my huge heavy gk rb700. Being lazy

    I NEVER leave any gear out in the car, or the garage for that matter. But I dont normally do the deep seated cold thing. I took my amp from my house, into the car(heated), drove 41 minutes, and went straight to loading in.
  18. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin Estimator Extraordinaire

    May 13, 2015
    Greenville, NC
    Lithium batteries. With wireless weather stations that must work even when temps drop below zero, lithium is the go-to battery. Rebates can help bring the price down but then, what price do you put on dependability?


    Attached Files:

    Ggaa likes this.
  19. Jim C

    Jim C I believe in the trilogy; Fender, Stingray, + G&L Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    Wouldn't it be good judgement not to expose any electronic equipment to sudden temperature changes unless they were designed for this (like automobiles)?
    Always been a fan of gradual warm up and cool down and have had really good luck with reliability with both tube and SS gear. (And I know I'm rolling the dice by typing this...)
    Jefenator and Erik Asma like this.
  20. SJan3

    SJan3 Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2010
    Move to FLA? Just kidding.
    Dominic DeCosa likes this.