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Playin' outdoor gig in the cold

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by ricktunesmith, Oct 18, 2002.

  1. I have a gig tomorrow morning at an outdoor festival at 8:30am. The weather forecast says that it expects it to be 38 degrees. Any tips for keeping the fingers up to snuff?

    These 42 year old arthritic hands live on Advil for late night gigs. I'm afraid of the morning coold.


  2. PolkaHero


    Jan 5, 2002
    Been there, done that! Try playing on a homecoming float in November in a steady downpour!

    Whenever this happens to me, I've broken out my old marching band gloves from high school with the fingers cut out. I use two gloves on each hand. Try finding an old pair or two of gloves and cutting out the fingertips. It'll help somewhat!
  3. PollyBass

    PollyBass ******

    Jun 25, 2001
    Shreveport, LA
    I used to wear a hoody, one with the pocket thing on the front, and in between, shove them in their, once i even had a hot pack in there.
  4. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    Bring a wood neck and not a graphite!!!
  5. Maybe you could try some of that athlete tape on your fingertips. I've never played in the cold, or outside for that matter, but I'd worry about my equipment. Keep some warm potatoes nearby to warm your hands.
  6. I disagree, best move I ever made was using my Zon on a very cold outdoor gig. Never even budged from the initial tuning.

    I know I shouldn't have a clue, living in Flaw-i-duh and all, but I've had a couple pretty nasty run-ins with outdoor gigs in cold weather. New Year's Eve 2000-2001 it was 28F onstage with a brisk wind from behind; the following year on the same stage it was in the mid-30's and a stiff breeze from stage left.

    I recommend layered clothing, somewhere to put your hands to keep them warm between tunes, a good chromatic tuner nearby (your strings will not like the temperature differences from when you are playing and then take your hands off), no alcohol (actually makes matters worse!), and a positive attitude (mind over matter may not be everything, but every little bit helps!).

    Good luck, Rick!
  7. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    Gard- You actually are correct in that point, but I meant about his hands freezing to the Graphite!! I know it wont happen, just the whole wood is so much more warmer rumor.
  8. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    Or you could just use gloves. One time I had to play an outdoor gig on a mountain top (literally). Borrowed mittens from a guy in audience and played like that. Strangely enough, it worked, and I got a 'wonderful' dub sound too :D
  9. Tsal


    Jan 28, 2000
    Finland, EU
    I don't know if this kinda stuff is available there but you could some of those small chemical heat bags you use once and then throw away. Or, any method of keeping you warm helps. Plus, you could wear some sort of tipless (fleece)mittens, I know they are available for something like $5/pair.
  10. Thanks for the tips. I'm going to deffinately layer and wear the "hoodie" with front pockets. That was a good idea. If I get a chance, I'll see if I can find one of those foil heat packets to put in my pocket. I'm also bringing a couple of pairs of light gloves and see what works.

    I haven't played in cold weather in years. If I remember correctly, the weather isn't the problem. You kind of warm up when you play. But, the cold neck of the bass chills the fingers and they cramp up.

    Well, it's about 6:15am, time to start packing the car... brrr

    Thanks again,

  11. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    The problem that I always have is the strings are so darned cold. My fingers wind up frozen to the bone, and my fingertips are so numb that I can't feel the strings. Last time I played below 40 degrees, I wound up with bloody fingers.

    Never tried plaing with gloves on.
  12. Good luck Rick, hope it goes better than my most memorable outdoor show...
    It was a party at some guy's farmhouse in Canada, about this time of year. Not only was it hovering somewhere around freezing the whole time, but we also had to spend a lot more time outside that we otherwise would have due to numerous setup problems like not enough extention cords, blowing a bunch of fuses, and our PA sporadically malfunctioning. The worst part was seeing our friends huddled comfortably around the campfire while we dealt with all this crap! :( My hoodie's pockets helped somewhat, but I couldn't play nearly as fast as normal... can't remember if I used a pick or just played fewer notes.

    The marching band gloves and hotpack are both great ideas, I'll have to remember those.
  13. Ouch. I'm a non-arthritic youngun, and my hands used to feel stiff and slow when I played in my parents' basement at night, and that was probably around 55 F. I'd recommend rubbing your hands together a lot, stretching beforehand, and keeping a small crowd of cute girls huddled around you at all times.
    Let us now how it goes- I'd think the tuning would be slightly off going from cold air to warm hands to cold air, but at least you're not playing a brass instrument- ever see "A Christmas Story" where one kid is dared to lick a metal lamp post in the dead of winter? :)
  14. Stephen (guitarist) and I have started to use my garage for jamming, and hell it's been cold!

    My advice: Get your hands warm, and then get your strings/neck warmed up, and then inbetween squeeze that hotpack ;)
  15. Yesterdays gig went fine. The stage was in the sun so I ditched the sweatshirt. It got clostrophobic. I was still layered pretty well. Moving around (and a considerable amount of coffee) kept the rest of me somewhat warm.

    The fingers weren't that bad. I had to play conservative. I found out that those fills and noodling that usually comes naturally in the bars wasn't happening. I was missing notes. The whole gig was like the first couple of songs in a first set. I really had to concentrate on keeping the groove.

    I kept my hands in my jeans pockets in between songs. The fingers didn't hurt as much as I expected. I use a P-Bass with Flatwounds. I think the flats helped. (I used to use a fretless with roundwounds. That's what I remember hurting) I kept gloves on my amp and put them on during any breaks. I also wore them while setting up. I tried to not let my hands get cold before we started to play.

    What really threw me off was that the guitar player was having a harder time than I was. I play in an oldies band that primarily plays surfing instrumentals and rockabilly. I didn't realize how much I depend on musical cues. When those are missed, it gets pretty difficult.

    We started at 8:30 am. By 9:00, the audience loosened up and started dancing. It was mostly families. So when everyone else is having fun, it's easy to forget about the details and just join in and have fun too.

    Thanks for the advice.
  16. Rick -

    Glad to see it went well!

    I forgot to mention one little detail: I play fretless almost exclusively, so dealing with the tuning changing as you play was actually fairly easy, just kept sliding towards the headstock as things went sharp.

    Unfortunately the poor guitarist didn't have that same luxury!

    :eek: ;)

    The first real cold gig, I did have a fretted onstage, and did try to use it for one tune, but gave up almost immedately, damn thing wouldn't stay anywhere close to in tune, so I just dropped it and grabbed the baldie...


    Oh yeah, and the K.I.S.S.* philosophy is right on, busy playing needs to disappear in those situations.

    *(Keep It Simple, Stupid)
  17. learn to play with a pick.
  18. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    Speaking of good ole Florida, I'm dying for a nice cool day to go outside and play, but its too darn hot to play anywhere thats not air conditioned!

    I wish I had your problem!

    Miami stinks!

  19. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I just played a weekend Oktoberfest thing, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. It was outside, on a flatbed trailer (nice stage... or not) the first day we finished at 9pm and it was about 40 degrees. My fingers were not very happenin' by that time.

    My best advice when playing outdoors is to move around as much as possible to try and keep the blood flowin'. Pockets are great for between-tune breaks.
  20. jvtwin

    jvtwin What it needs is a little more cowbell

    Jan 26, 2001
    LA Calif.
    I always liked the cut-off wool mitts/gloves and a tall coffee with a double shot of JD! :D

    (your hands still get cold, but ya don't notice it much!)

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