Do you have gear you bring out for harsh conditions?

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by HamOnTheCob, May 7, 2017.

  1. Outdoor gigs are my favorite. I'll take a big stage at a festival over a club or theater gig any day of the week. The atmosphere is energetic, the air is refreshing, and the natural light is so much more comfortable on my eyes than glaring spots or thousand-degree cans.

    But I live in rural Ohio. Farm country. Lake country. River country. It gets humid. It gets rainy. It gets muddy. It gets dusty. What about those outdoor shows where the weather isn't perfect? Maybe a town festival playing on a semi trailer with no overhead shelter. Maybe playing on the deck of a boat. Maybe right out in the street, or on a grass lot in some campground. When you're facing the potential for conditions that could be considered harsh in one way or another, do you have any specific gear you like to use?

    There's a huge annual country music festival about 20 minutes from my house, and I've played all kinds of shows related to the event. I've played on the main stage in front of thousands of people on a beautiful day, I've played a side stage sponsored by a local radio station when it had just rained, I've played on a converted trailer with a makeshift roof into the wee hours of the night with temperatures dropping down into the 50s (in July!), I've played in the hospitality area on the dusty ground under a tent canopy, and I've played in the campgrounds more than once during all-out mud-slinging, rain-pouring scenarios with my speaker cab sitting directly on the grassy soup. I've had mud flung on my amps, my cabs, my basses, etc. And it's a blast every single time.

    If I took super sensitive gear to any of these other than the main stage, I'd have a hard time enjoying myself if I saw a nasty cloud roll in, or started to see my breath. So I take the least expensive gear I have, that I know I can play without crippling anxiety. I usually take a cheap, passive 4-string bass (though I've taken a Warwick Streamer LX and a USA Spector to the campgrounds a couple times... yikes!), no effects, my bulletproof Peavey DeltaBass head, and a couple Genz-Benz cabs I've had since the late 90s (you haven't lived until you've painstakingly cleaned disgusting beer- and liquor-infused mud off a pair of cabs upholstered in rat fur!).

    I'm sure plenty of you will say "I would never consider playing a gig like that!" and I totally get it. It's nuts. But when you're from the country, you tend to make some country bumpkin type decisions from time to time (Like the time my cousin and I assumed we could operate a canoe, not knowing it actually takes a bit of skill to steer one - because of course it does - and got pseudo-stranded in the middle of Tappan Lake going around and around in circles). I digress. The question isn't "Why would you decide to do this type of gig?" The question is more like "Do you keep a little bit of less-than-boutique gear lying around just in case you need to set up in a barn or something?"

    I'm just curious. I can't be the only one who has high end gear for my main musical endeavors and low end gear for "special circumstances". I know the discussion has been had many times about whether it's worth the risk of taking a boutique bass to a bar gig where it could get stolen, and while I suppose in some ways this is a tiny bit related to that, this is more concerning situations where you might worry a touch about gear getting damaged (or about it holding up) under less than perfect conditions.

    If so, what are the scenarios you face that require this type of gear, and what gear do you use? Feel free to mention which pieces you leave at home in these situations as well. I'm curious to know!

    Maureen M and Rattman like this.
  2. About the only thing that will bring out my Peavey Mark 6 instead of my SVT is playing off of a generator or knowing that the club electrics are really bad. For outdoor gigs , I just keep covers and a plastic tarp handy. I played an outdoor gig last year where a really bad thunderstorm came through. Plastic tarp taped down got my gear through it just fine. I got soaked , the gear survived. The stage was a swamp and we couldn't play after the storm. Full pay for 4 songs. Not a bad night after all.
    HamOnTheCob and Lvjoebass like this.
  3. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    I don't play without overhead cover and side covers available. We did once and although it wasn't a disaster, some of our gear got wet. Next time we let them know that we weren't putting any gear on stage if the tarps for side coverage weren't ready to go.

    Nothing wrong with being able to roll with the punches either, I'm just tired of being punched. :D
  4. Aberdumbie


    Jan 22, 2016
    South Carolina
    IMG_2199.JPG Being a poor musician in my gigging days I didn't have the luxury of gear to choose from. Just had what I had. We once had a radio station hire us to set up on a barge and float around the lake playing. Rachet straps were the order of the day. And it was a free gig too. So any loss would have been a crisis back then. Anyway, whole point being I remember this as one of the most incredibly fun gigs of my professional music career..... Gear can be replaced. Great memories are fleeting. Most of us play for enjoyment of the music we make. Don't let your apprehension about your gear rob you of that enjoyment.
    Last edited: May 7, 2017
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I love outdoor gigs too. I just take my same gear and keep a tarp handy.
  6. Except for casinos, most of my summer season gigs are outdoors on bigger stages. The ones that you have to watch out for are the ones in small towns or county fairs, where I've seen just about everything. I have a complete hatred for flatbed trailers, and having toured with a country act, I found with most biker or smaller gigs, you could almost be certain you would get stuck on one of those. My absolute favorite is when two are used, they don't even match in height, and still have mud on them from the caterpillar that was on it the day before. Sheesh... That sums up my rodeo experiences in a nutshell.

    Sorry off track.. Regarding equipment, my gear has been toured, so the shiny wore off in the first leg of the tour. A lot of shows I work backline is provided, but for outdoor events I use Ampeg, either svt with an 810 or 410 Hlf. The 410 is in a road case, the 810 is a road case lol. I bring tarps , one of those shiny solar shield blankets, and a big umbrella. The blanket and umbrella are for controlling the sun for the Tolex and svt cl head, during the time after sound check to show, and tarps are for the rain. If there is even the slightest drop of rain, my rig gets shut off and the head quickly put in its road case.

    Most of the gigs these days are covered so I'm lucky in that respect.
    HamOnTheCob and Lvjoebass like this.
  7. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    SW VT
    My electric is cheap and cheerful enough not to sweat it. but what I'm actually playing with people is the upright. Would be lovely but unthinkable $$ to have a carbon-fiber upright so as not to worry about rain, but I'm scheming towards a kinda whacko URB cheap-build that would suit for that case and might also be a bit smaller to carry (while still retaining cubic volume, as my bandmates are amplification-hostile acoustic folks.) Of course, at the rate I go that might be another decade...
    HamOnTheCob likes this.
  8. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown

    Feb 16, 2011
    I carry tarps when playing outdoors. I also use my all weather combat bass. It's a great playing old beater MIM J with hot rodded pickups. No matter what the temp or humidity, set it out for 20~30 minutes where it's gonna be played, tune it up and go.
    HamOnTheCob and Lvjoebass like this.
  9. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    I hate outdoor gigs.
    Bugs, rain, 100 degree heat with no roof.
    No power sources, need a generator with 300 ft power cords.
    Unattentive audience because people are totally distracted outside
    unless they dropped $100 per ticket.
    HamOnTheCob and Billy C. like this.
  10. Wicked G

    Wicked G

    Jan 19, 2017
    Hell Paso Texas
    Outdoor gigs over here are backlined so I'll take my TC Electronic RH750 to use if the weather is nice, and if not then I'll just use the backline which is usually some type of Ampeg, Hartke or Carvin. I did do an outdoor show 2 years ago that had no backline and was in a dusty and very hot area. For that show I took my GK MB500 and NEO 410 cab. I chose that amp because the fan never seems to come on and I took the extra precaution of putting the amp inside of a womens panty hose I bought to try to keep the dust from getting inside of it. Worked like a charm. The amp did not get hot and the dust did not get in. The cab got pretty dusty but that was an easy clean.
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    If it's outdoors and looks like bad weather, my BA112 gets the call.
    HamOnTheCob likes this.
  12. I've played my Squier Skull 'n Bones MB4 at the Ice Castle. Does that count as an outdoor gig? We were inside the castle.
    HamOnTheCob and Hahaha like this.
  13. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    The only bass I'd ever think of pulling out in the rain is one of these:

  14. bassfran


    Mar 1, 2012
    Endorsing artist: Lakland basses
    Been there, done that, got the (wet) t-shirt.

    Some highlights- Mayfly season under the lights watching our female singers spitting bugs between verses.
    Spending a whole day toweling off, draining out, and blow-drying an entire trailer's worth of gear.
    A metal show on a boat in the rain, choppy Lake Michigan, open bar, lurching to and fro, barf-filled bathrooms.
    1000% humidity soup on the banks of the Mississippi fighting tuning the entire show.
    Plywood on the grass for a stage with our amps tripping the breakers at random on a generator that couldn't power a hamster wheel.

    Yeah. Good times.

    These days I play more upright and I bring the lesser one out in hazardous battle conditions. Outdoors? Never leave home without tarps and bungees, sunscreen, bug spray, and plenty of h2o.
    Last edited: May 7, 2017
    HamOnTheCob likes this.
  15. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    Just played a local town "jubilee day" today where it rained off and on. We were tucked under a 15' by 15' canopy with open sides. Had my warick fna jazzman corvette and my markbass combo like i always use. Watched as a town official took my mic off of the stand and walked out into the rain with it. I play this gig every year and many timesvits been sunny and nice. Today was not, comes with the territory. I bought my gear to usebit so that's what i'll do. Thankfully the Warwick has proven to be solid even in different temps and humidity levels and the markbass is small enough to tuck way under the tent!
    HamOnTheCob likes this.
  16. BAG


    May 5, 2014
    New Zealand
    I won't say I hate outdoor gigs as they can be a blast, but it's a very rare outdoor gig that has the right combination of weather to make it truly enjoyable. It's either too hot or too cold and even a small amount of wind plays havoc with sound.

    One we did last August (middle of winter here) up in Thredbo ski resort was great to start with all of us in t-shirts and jeans having a great time in the sun. Halfway through the second set the sun goes behind the mountain and the temp drops 15degC in about 20 minutes and dips into the negatives. Finished that set and put on just about every bit of clothing we brought with us plus fingerless gloves. The final set we could barely feel our fingers and the fire pits they lit had some of the smokiest crappy wood ever used. Lead singer was choking and coughing between verses and we were just happy to finish.

    Once we got home all the instruments and PA gear stank of wood smoke and I was wishing that i'd taken my cheap Jag shortscale and Peavey amp. I spent the next day with a slightly damp cloth wiping over everything to try and get the worst of the smell out of it all.

    Give me a nice comfortable indoor gig anytime.
    HamOnTheCob likes this.
  17. 74hc


    Nov 19, 2015
    Sunny California
    Mine are always indoors at the church, not unlike my youth. So weather plays a small part in it. I bring out my authentic road-worn pbass if it's raining (have to carry the case to/from the parking lot in the rain), and when it's going to be crowded. One more ding will not be noticed as long as it's not on the playing surfaces of the neck.

    We're crammed in a small space, and dinging is hard to avoid sometimes.

    Otherwise, I bring my Music Man which is usually the girls choir practice at the less popular services, and it's not raining since there is few of us playing. Being out here in California, the weather usually cooperates but in the el nino/la nina year cycle. I think that's about a 5 to 7 year cycle.

    Mine would be the worst one to chance exposure to rain due to the particle board. Cost-wise, and preference-wise, it would be the best one.
    Last edited: May 7, 2017
    HamOnTheCob likes this.
  18. Maureen M

    Maureen M Guest

    Nov 5, 2016
    That's a great solution for dust! I bring a tarp to outdoor shows in case of rain, and I don't worry about mud too much. But dust is a concern for me - I always worry it's going to get inside my amp or bass.
    I'll still worry about the bass but at least I can protect my amp now. :)
    HamOnTheCob, Lvjoebass and Wicked G like this.
  19. Wicked G

    Wicked G

    Jan 19, 2017
    Hell Paso Texas
    Yeah, it was a concern for me as well. I just slipped it into the pantyhose and cut 2 slits in the back for the power cable and the Speakon. And since that amps fan never seems to come on, it wasn't pulling any dust either. The bass will get dusty but if you wear an arm band, it will at least not grind the dust or dirt into your bass and scratch it up. But I usually use my one and only used bass for those type of gigs.
    HamOnTheCob likes this.
    HamOnTheCob likes this.