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Leaving amps in the van overnight.

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by jesso, Apr 13, 2009.

  1. jesso


    May 30, 2008
    Hey people,
    Just wondering what pieces of equipment are OK to leave overnight in our band's van?
    We play about 2 or 3 gigs a week, and then rehearse about 2 nights. We have quite a lot of gear, and its heartbreaking having to take it all out of the van to rehearse all the time.... we are working on having a rehearsal set up permanently to minimize the moving about of heavy equipment.

    Obviously, things like drum hardware and mic stands are fine... but what about my Markbass cabs, or our EV Speakers? Even some of the back up guitars? None of the valve amps would be left in the van, but some of the solid state backup amps maybe?
    In the colder weather there can be some condensation buildup... but coming into the warmer weather it should be ok.
    Can the extreem cold damage a speaker cone, fry a solid state amp, or warp a bass neck?
    Does anyone have any experience of this? I live in Ireland by the way.


  2. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    WHen I was gigging regularly the only thing that came in out of the van were the guitars. Let them warm up well before playing to make sure the condensation has evaporated and that the circuit boards aren't going to crack from temperature changes. That's the key (same with guitars)- it's NOT the cold that causes damage. It's sudden changes in temperature that causes damage.

    I live in Central Illinois, USA. In the winter we routinely get to a week or so of -10° F, and in the summer 100° F and above is not uncommon. In 30 years of gigging I've never had any equipment problems related to the temperature they were stored at in the van.

    No, the cold won't hurt the speaker cones, voice coils, amps, etc.

  3. butchblack

    butchblack Life is short. Do good. Find and do what you love.

    Jan 25, 2007
    Waltham Massachusetts
    +1 on letting the amps warm up to room temp before powering up in the cold weather. Do remove guitars, bass as the less temperature swings they go through the better it is for them. Also, make sure that your equipment is fully insured and that it covers being left in the van.
  4. Drunk Heffalump

    Drunk Heffalump Tone that I have. Skill? Oh, that? Well....

    Feb 28, 2009
    Great White North
    Hang on a second while I jot you're address down, when was it you said you just left it there?...LOL. As a word of advice DON"T, as in don't leave anything anywhere you can't guarantee it's survival. You said you're from Ireland. Well faith and begorrah me young son but I'm to thinkin' that you've got a lot 'o' rain about your fine isle, and consistent moisture IS AN ISSUE. Moisture equals condensation which equals water which equals rust in metal and rot in wood. Just something to think about.....
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    "It's not cold that causes damage. It's sudden temp changes..."

    That pretty much covers it. Just let your board and other gear stay in the cases for a bit before taking them out after they have spent a cold night in the van.
  6. 12bass


    Jan 2, 2003
    Victoria, Canada
    In my experience, I wouldn't worry as much about the weather as someone stealing your gear. A few years ago, someone broke my car window and took the Eden cabinet out of the hatch. Insurance wouldn't pay out because it was less than the deductible. So, the result is that I don't leave gear in my car much these days....
  7. in the states i couldn't find any gear insurance companies to cover items inside a van or trailer. So if you do leave your stuff in the van at least park it in a locked garage that no one else has access to. And don't go about publicizing it on internet message boards!
  8. They'll be fine leaving them in the van overnight. Where are you located? I mean, the exact mailing address?

    Seriously, I only leave stuff in my car overnight if its locked in the garage. Way too easy to break a window and clean it out.

  9. doktorfeelgood

    doktorfeelgood layin' it down like pavement Supporting Member

    I live in Rhode Island and this past January I fried my 2 GK 1001 RB's from leaving them out in the cold overnight. The night in question was around 15 degrees then it warmed up to about 45 degrees the next day and then back to about 20 degrees late in the day. Drove to the gig that night, brought the first amp into the joint, made the mistake of not letting it warm up, plugged it in, turned it on....POOF... smoke coming out of the vents and the amp in protect mode. Brought the spare GK 1001 RB in to the club, plugged it in, turned it on and...yup, you guessed it...POOF again. But this time fire along with the smoke.
    The GK repair tech that fixed the amps could only surmise that the the drastic temperature swings created condensatiuon that froze on the power amp board and created a short circcuit. So I'd highly recommend bringing any amplifier in out of the cold if you happen to live in a region that gets very cold. Even if it is a pain in your a** to do it at 3 AM in the morning... You won't have to deal with what I had to due to my stupidity... )-(
  10. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    There are sometimes you just have to trust your stuff in a locked van or trailer. I didn't like doing it when I had to do it, but sometimes you have to. You can't go wheeling an SVT up to your 5th floor hotel room at 2 am ;)
  11. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    I hear you, Jimmy, but I still hate leaving gear in vehicles unless there's no really alternative. When I have to do that, the bass I take to a gig is my £100 el cheapo and the instruments I value stay at home.

    Maybe that's just because I live in an area where folks would actually steal the steam off of your urine if you weren't watching it. :D
  12. thumpbass1


    Jul 4, 2004
    +1. My instruments do go with me to the hotel room, but I only have to worry about two or three at most.
    I prefer not to lug along more than I think I'll need to gig with.
  13. jb63


    Jan 3, 2002
    Cleveland, Ohio
    I live in Ohio where winter temps can get well below freezing. I had a GK 800RB that always left in the van. One day I turned it on and it didn't work. I took it to a tech for repair and when I picked up he had the wildest story. One transistor was burned up; short circuit. He noticed a white powdery substance on the circuit board, he wiped it off with his finger and tasted it, it was salt, an excellent conductor. In northern Ohio the roads are heavily salted in the winter. The van we used had quite a few rust holes. Best I can figure is that after each gig the amp was warm and salt rich condensation collected on the internals. Luckily it only resulted in minor damage, a $50 fix. Pretty crazy huh?
  14. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    Cold won't harm your amps. Temperature changes won't either--it's the condensation from bringing cold amps into a warm and more humid environment that presents the danger.

    One way to handle it is to bring the amps inside, sealed up in their rack cases, and let them come up to near ambient temperature before you open the cases. This may take a long time, though, especially if the amps start out very cold and/or the indoors air is quite humid. (If the amps were outside in the cold of winter and you bring them in to play beside a heated enclosed swimming pool, you might have to wait a day or two. ;))

    You could also bring the amps inside and promptly open the cases and right away get them turned on and warming up quickly. This approach works better on fan cooled amps than on ones that use passive convection. A hair dryer directed at the air inputs will help dry and warm the air going into them.
  15. Jesso-
    I played for 5 years in a band that left it's equip in a van during the week. We're in the Midwest with temps from -10 to 100...I never had a problem and don't recall that anyone else in the band did either. Variety of solid state and tube amps. I used an Ampeg B2, which I'm still using today as my gig amp.
    I always set my amp up first thing and then turned it on. In the winter, any condensation might have been there was probably taken care of by the heat of the amp and the fan.
    Come to think of it, the Ampeg is about 13 years old....still working like a champ!
  16. Fred19137


    Jan 23, 2009
    active musician
    I would say amps are ..ok... for few days. I believe leaving an instrument in the car is a terrible idea. But it depends on how much you care about it, and if you care if it will go badly out of tune because humidty will weaken the wood and the cold will tighten the strings. But it won't ruin the bass. Temperature and humidity changes are mainly only worries of double bass players, were quick humidity changes actually break the bass body. My orchestra let one of the bass players take a bass to his house mid-summer, and going from the warm outside into the airconditioned inside of his house shattered the side of the body, it was very scary, but it has been repaired, so even then things are not too bad.

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