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Does the heat affect your tuning?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by catcauphonic, Jul 6, 2012.

  1. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    Here in Seattle we don't get a lot of hot (or even warm) weather. There's not much humidity year round & it's often damp with overcast skies. Normally, I love the feel & tone of my bass, but I noticed on days when the temp hits the high 70s or beyond, I'm having to tighten my strings much more to get a correct reading from my Korg e-tuner. I play a few year old Yamaha/N89 with a rosewood FB on maple neck. I keep it out on a stand in the corner of the room for constant access, but away from any sunlight. I'm wondering if this is a common problem with basses?
  2. schmig


    Nov 30, 2008
    Bigtime, any time I play under heavy lights or outdoors (cold and damp here in Ireland), the tuning is constantly out of whack.
  3. woodsideh


    Feb 19, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Common with all stringed instruments.
  4. dustinfennessey


    Sep 29, 2011
    One of the many reasons I play Modulus...graphite necks make my life a ton easier up here in the northland
  5. schmig


    Nov 30, 2008
    Played under hot lights with a trumpet player last week, she was telling me to my great surprise that it also goes out of tune if left unplayed for a while during the set...which is why you'll see players picking them up and blowing soundlessly through them in an attempt to warm the thing up. Never realised..
  6. It's all about physics. Heat makes metal expand, cold makes it contract. Hotter days your strings will expand, making them go flat, cold days your strings will go sharp.
    I played an outdoor gig last Friday night ( it's the middle of winter here in Australia ), and my tuner was letting me know it was getting colder as the night progressed.
  7. BioDriver

    BioDriver A Cinderella story

    Aug 29, 2008
    Austin, TX
    One of the worst gigs I played was an outdoor wedding gig in Austin at the end if July. So yes, heat, humidity, and all the other natural factors can mess with your bass, or any instrument for that matter.
  8. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    Yep. And horn players go flat when cold (tube diameters get bigger in the cold)
  9. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Yep. We played an outdoor gig a few weeks back. It was roughly 100° and we were in the direct sunlight for 3 hours. My bass needed to be tuned after almost every song.
  10. ffutterman

    ffutterman Talentless Bass Enthusiast

    May 7, 2010
    Yep, that's pretty much how it goes. My basses fluctuate the most during the Fall and Spring, when I've got the windows open. In Winter and Summer, I've got the heat or AC going so the temperature stays pretty steady. I hate those stretches in Philly's late Spring where you bounce back and forth from 60 degrees to 90 degrees.
  11. number11


    Jun 17, 2010
    WOOD stringed instruments.

    My Steinberger does not react to temperature, tuningise.
  12. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    My modulus changes pitch with temp, but not nearly as much as my wood instruments.

    All material changes size with temp.

    Even water shrinks as it gets cold--- until it hits freezing--
    then it expands.

    Leave a can of Bud in the freezer overnight to prove.
  13. number11


    Jun 17, 2010
    Well, I;ve never put it in a freezer and then in the fire.

    But in the temp ranges the OP mentions, I don't have to adjust it as he does his.

    In fact, rarely at all.
  14. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    Just in case the strings are a factor as much as the wood, it's also worth mention that I recently switched from nickel to cobalt, & maybe it's because they're barely 2 weeks old, but it's even more noticable with the new ones.

    So graphite or some kind of non-wood would make the best neck to alleviate this issue? Are certain strings more affected as well??
  15. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    I learned after a bunch of years to play my Modulus' when there is any kind of weather involved. My specific Mod that I play is a neck through. I never have any issues with tuning, staying in tune or anything like that. Also, when I used to play my Fender or other basses outdoors, the neck would tend to get sticky. I am in the Upper Midwest now, but this also happened when I played through Florida and Georgia as well. My Modulus handles everything like that without a problem at all.
  16. CrashClint

    CrashClint I Play Bass therefore I Am

    Nov 15, 2005
    Wake Forest, NC
    DR Strings Dealer (local only)
    Here in NC, we have some tough humidity and heat. My Roscoe basses have graphite rods in the neck plus a Purpleheart stringer in the neck which makes for a very stable neck so I get very little movement. I have found it best to leave the bass in it's case and let it acclimate to the outside temp, once I have done that and tuned it, it stays pretty locked in. I will check in between sets and tweak if needed.
  17. WoodyG3


    May 6, 2003
    Colorado, USA
    This is basic Physics 101. When things are cold, they contract, when things are hot, they expand. This is true of any string regardless of what type of neck your bass might have. Wood expands with moisture, and shrinks when dry. This explains the changes in a neck with changes in humidity.
  18. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
    I think it's the wood and the metal, open grain wood is a humidity thing for certain...
    The strings will change diameter and length when the temperature changes... Physics baby, If the modulus' and steinbergers don't get affected noticeably... AWSOME!!!

    They have a few disadvantages (limited models, price etc), but the stability is a huge boon in certain circumstances. I haven't played one... yet. :bassist:
  19. number11


    Jun 17, 2010
    One of the reasons graphite instruments were so popular with Jamaican reggae guys.

    Graphite does not react the same rate as wood. I had a Stingray which on a tour of Canada drove me to utter despair. It would be unplayable at the start of the night, I'd have to adjust the truss rod and by the end of the night it would be unplayabel the other way.

    In conditions like you speak of, a Steinberger all-graphite model would be a major improvement
  20. Lakland55


    Dec 13, 2007
    Tucson, AZ
    My sediments exactly...here in Arizona, if I keep my basses on stands its likely that I do a lot of neck adjustments during the humid monsoon season; whereas when temps are moderate and dry I'm not adjusting nearly as much.

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