How hot is too hot?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Ed S, Jun 9, 2021.

  1. Ed S

    Ed S

    Nov 14, 2019
    I play at a weekly farmers' market in the Chicago area. It can get pretty hot in the summer. This weekend is predicted high 80s-low 90s.

    I usually bring my ply, but last winter I bought a nicer 7/8 hybrid. I'd like to bring it at least on occasion, to see how it works in that setting (and to show it off! ;)) But I'm a lot more sensitive to the possibility of damaging my new bass - as opposed to my beater ply.

    So, is there a maximum temperature above which you would hesitate to bring your "nice" bass to an outside gig?

    (Yeah, I'll ask my resident luthier when she gets back, but thought I'd toss it out here.)
    Jefenator, dhm and strigidae like this.
  2. If your bass is hot to the touch, it is too hot for it. I can't tolerate heat so it isn't an issue for me anymore. My trio is doing a gig this evening outdoors without me, expected to be around 94 by the time evening hits and I wouldn't bring an upright to this gig. I'd go eub in the heat/full sun.
    Ric Vice and Michal Herman like this.
  3. Ed S

    Ed S

    Nov 14, 2019
    Thanks. This jam is all acoustic. I try to get there early and grab some shade! ;) But it still gets hot! Fortunately, it is from 8 a.m.-noon, so we wrap up before it REALLY starts to bake.
  4. Keith Rawlings

    Keith Rawlings Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 3, 2019
    I regularly play in high 80 and 90 degree temperatures with my old Kay and the only issue I ever had was playing uncovered outdoors. My bass got so hot that it was uncomfortable to handle; even the strings got very hot to the touch, but this was a gig poolside at a resort on Padre Island years ago. I got one heck of a sunburn as well -- never again!

    If you have some sort of covered stage or even decent shade tree coverage then you should be fine. Hybrids can handle the heat as long as your bass doesn't get hot to the touch (like Carl H said). I also recommend a floor fan aimed up at you to keep you and your bass cool. I bought one similar to the one in the picture attached from Amazon and it's become my best friend in the heat and humidity of South Texas. I love it and wonder why I never bought one of these before. It doesn't interfere with my mic and pickup combination either as it's fairly quiet.
  5. Steve Boisen

    Steve Boisen Your first second choice™ Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    I live in Florida and play outdoor gigs regularly. My "outdoor" bass is a 52 year-old German hybrid that has had no issues so far. One thing I try to avoid is having the bass (and the bassist) in direct sunlight. I don't think the high air temperature or humidity is a big concern. Dry air is more of an issue, and there's not much of that where I live.

    - Steve
    Lee Moses likes this.
  6. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    Humidity flux is not great, along with temp flux. The way summers are in Virginia, it's gonna be the ply every time for an outdoor gig. Just bringing the bass from inside my house to outside can mean an immediate flux of 30+% humidity and 20-30 degrees F. I know some local bassists who have had issues with their basses coming apart the day of a gig and needing some emergency luthier help.
    carl h. likes this.
  7. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Ambient temperature vs actual temperature on the bass is the key. 85 degrees F outside with your bass left inside a black vehicle can exceed 200 degrees F. A dark colored bass in direct sunshine can get hot enough to melt the varnish.

    Hot hide glue can soften as low as 110 degrees F and melts around 145 F; above 165 degrees F is starts to break down and weaken. Remember that it is an organically derived cow hide product; think where cows are most happy....

    No need to turn into a freak show obsessing about it. Your bass is most comfortable at the temps you are. Keep it out of direct sun, try to be nice to it, avoid outside summer gigs in Dubai. Be cautious with humidifiers and dampits and such. Don't super hydrate the bass thinking you are helping it train for excessively hot or dry situations. You may actually do more damage from the shock factor.
    nbsipics, Lee Moses, lrhbass and 8 others like this.
  8. Ed S

    Ed S

    Nov 14, 2019
    Yeah - the boss is a cautious type. I asked her and she said, "Yes. Glue can fail, wood can warp!" Just seems like we bolted right into the middle of summer heat around here! Figure I'll stick w/ the ply until (if?) we get a cooler snap.

    Condino - you crack me up! :D
    Seanto likes this.
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Duly noted. Thanks! :D
    Ric Vice likes this.
  10. Ed S

    Ed S

    Nov 14, 2019
    But it's a DRY heat! :D
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  11. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Laugh all you want....

    I played a few gigs in Riyadh back in the day. We'll politely say I was there on "official business" for the unofficial team. I remember wearing a full uniform, flak vest, and full chemical warfare gear, looking over at the thermometer and it was reading just under 130 degrees the shade.

    Two years later I was busking at Everest basecamp in December with the same guitar that seemed to get along a lot better than me with those temps. When you are young and vibrant and curious and fearless...I did some crazy $#[email protected]!
    nbsipics, strigidae, Wasnex and 5 others like this.
  12. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    @Ed S, can you or anyone in your jam group bring an EZ-Up or two? With the sides up on the sunny side, they can make a very pleasant jam shelter. Shade is the key to being cool!

    Instrument color makes a difference too... Going on 25 years ago now, I played with a jam group for a summer city "parade" that ended up on an open stage in a playing field. Our lead guitarist had a fancy custom black-finished Martin dreadnought guitar that got so hot that the center seam began to let loose. He loosened the strings, got it inside a building in an air-conditioned room and pressed it back together as it cooled and somehow was able to save this guitar. It still sounds great, but that center seam scar still shows today.

    As the old preacher used to say, it's all going to burn in the end, but there's no need to rush things unnecessarily.
    Keith Rawlings likes this.
  13. This is good advice. Also, A hybrid, especially a new Upton hybrid should be pretty durable. I use my Chadwick hybrid for outdoor gigs with no issues.
    james condino likes this.
  14. I prefer "you don't burn down a cathedral to fry an egg".
  15. Sid Fang

    Sid Fang Reformed Fusion Player Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2008
    No limit. I gig a graphite bass. There have been gigs in full summer sunlight where the guitars were constantly drifting out of tune, but the space-age technology delivered. And even better than a Fender in a bar fight.
    nbsipics likes this.
  16. Ed S

    Ed S

    Nov 14, 2019
    We've got a collapsible canopy we put up on days the sun is expected to be is intense. I've been playing this jam for 7-ish years. In our usual space, we know just how the sun/shade move. This year, they have us in a different spot but - again - you can figure where the shade will be. I'm the kinda guy who gets there early and stays to the end! :D Sometimes the circle can spread out as the hours pass. My closest couple of buddies and I always grab spots right near each other in the shade.

    Then, no matter how big the circle gets, and how bad the "Doppler effect" gets, the 3-4 of us can just focus on being tight w/ each other and having a great time. It is funny, as you see folk who come later but are "in the know" jostle to get a spot near our core group! ;) If the other folk don't care to listen to the bass ... ;)
  17. Dr. Love

    Dr. Love

    Nov 5, 2008
    Lubbock, TX
    I did a 4th of July gig a few years back and it was about 105, no shade. My rosin melted on the bow hair and I got blisters because the strings were so hot. Thankfully there were no long term effects to the bass or me, but I would say that was past the reasonable temp limit.
  18. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I expect cover as a bare minimum. I'd bring my electric if it was going to get really hot. Aside from potential damage to the bass, it's just a matter of being realistic about comfort and playability with sweaty hands.
  19. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I've played in the high 80's. Never had any problem with my old (60's) P-bass or the Gretsch hollowbody I've used on other hot outside gigs. I was only dumb enough to stand around in the sun playing once. After that I make sure there's a pop-up canopy, even if I have to bring one.

    Heat in this part of the US doesn't necessarily come with humidity, and even if the humidity is also high, the instrument is only in it for a few hours. That's not enough to cause problems for a well-made instrument.

    Electric guitars and basses aren't made of glass or flash paper. They can stand some adverse weather for a few hours.
  20. Eli Brockway

    Eli Brockway Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2019
    I would've suffered a critical existence failure so quickly. I start sweating buckets once the temperature gets up over 80...
    james condino likes this.
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