Playing outside in sub temperatures - what to expect?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Frohman, Dec 17, 2014.

  1. Frohman

    Frohman Guest

    Nov 24, 2009
    Playing outside on saturday, with forecasts showing 30F*. What am I to expect? I'm playing on a Fender P, only fretted one I got with a reliable neck. It's a 20 minute set. Will the damn thing bend all the way to hell and back, or will it manage? Tuning? Gloves?
  2. Not sure about you, but I have trouble playing below like 55 degrees. My fingers lock up and I just can't move them. My fix for that is playing with a pick (takes one set of fingers out of the equation) and just playing super watered-down parts. If you think you can pull off playing with gloves, by all means try that. But make sure you have a back up plan, because your hands might still be cold after awhile with gloves. Even at 60 degrees I'll make a fist and exhale into it. Anything to warm my hands up.
  3. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Expect to be cold!

    Not all gigs are worth taking, but I doubt there will be any permanent damage to you or your equipment from playing for 20 minutes in the cold.
  4. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Try to get their early and leave the bass in the case so it can acclimatize slowly. You will probably need to keep something like a Snark tuner on the headstock and on at all times to continually tweak the tuning as the strings come and go with the temperature changes.

    More importantly: warming the bass back up slowly after the gig without getting condensation. Bring a cold bass into a warm room: boom. Just like an iced tea glass sweats in the summer. Avoid the condensation.

    Keep your soft cloth handy and wipe the instrument down at the first indication that it might be starting to condense. Give it an extra day if you can before playing it again to make sure it is re-acclimated and dry.

    My Ibby fared well doing this last year for outdoor gigs, both in cold and hot weather. Not to be off subject, but for a hot weather outdoor gig, same in reverse, with one added complication: if possible keep the bass out of direct sunlight to avoid literally baking it, especially if it has a dark finish.
  5. I concur with iiipopes, and suggest a pair of fingerless gloves. You'll still need to use a pick, but at least it gives you a little more control.
  6. 202dy

    202dy Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    Much ado about nothing. Guitars are shipped from the factory to cold climes in January after the NAMM show all the time. As above, be ready to wipe and take a little bit of time with aclimatization.

    The biggest problem is tuning. Between cold temps and warm fingers it can be challenging. Twenty minutes, depending on the number of tunes, isn't a big deal.
  7. Unless you are being paid an obscene amount, I'd pass.
  8. It's not that there's a temp change. It's the rate of change that can sometimes be of concern. I've seen and heard other people's finishes crack upon opening a case. It's very sad to watch as a grown man cries just because he wouldn't listen.

    Careful of a lacquer finish, or any finish really. As others have already said, acclimatize slowly, in the case, when going from warm to cold and cold to warm. The case itself (if kept closed) will slow the rate of change.
    I'll go to an outdoor show with very little, or no heat in the car so the guitar or bass will cool down on the way. If it's a really long drive I'll put the instrument in the trunk so I don't freeze to death on the way. On the way home I'll heat up the car so it'll warm up slowly to room temp. By the time I get to the gig or home she's at the right temp.
    If I'm playing indoor in the winter I warm up my car partially before putting the instrument in the cabin. It's the only time I allow myself to waste that much gas.
    I've never cracked a finish or had tuning issues in the last 45 years. I've transported my Gibson archtops and flat tops (lacquer finish) without issue.
    My precision is never a concern as its finish is fairly hardy.
    All of my instruments get tuned almost immediately upon arrival and stay in tune, other than the minor tweaking inherent at any show or do.

    I too would rather not do any outdoor show, even in the heat of the summer. Beggars can't be choosers though.
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2014