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The Science Of Not Opening A Shipped Box When It Is Cold

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by SBassman, Jan 9, 2014.

  1. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    Ok, there have been multiple recent threads discussing concerns about a bass being shipped during these cold days. They make references to the wisdom of not immediately opening a box but waiting for it to acclimate. Some claim a 24 hour wait is appropriate.

    Can someone please try to explain the Science of this?
    Once a box comes indoors, what is the difference between it acclimating indoors inside the box or outside? Is the temperature change really going to be that much more gradual sitting in the box - which is sitting in a heated house/apartment?

    Not trying to imply this stuff isn't all true. I'm just trying to understand the Science. Can someone explain well? Thanks.
  2. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    The box and the 'insulation' act as...well... insulation. The part that is important is the "GRADUAL" you mentioned. Yes it is more gradual with several barriers between the outside air temperature. It takes longer for the warm air to get in and increase the temperature through the layers of cardboard, air and foam.

    Gradual is important, since wood and plastic (finishes) expand and contract at different rates and with different temperatures. I said this in the other thread...I shattered the poly finish on an Ibanez Roadstar II by taking it from outdoor temperatures to something in the mid to upper 70's without giving it time to slowly come up to temperature. It also wasn't that pretty weather checking you tend to see on instruments but big obvious instrument long cracks.
  3. P Town

    P Town

    Dec 7, 2011
    And, if the temperature differential, and humidity fall within the range where water condenses on the instrument, steel parts will begin to rust almost immediately.
  4. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I just got my Martin after a week of very cold temperatures the box isn't cold but I'm still waiting twenty four hours before I open it.
  5. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it.

  6. jnuts1


    Nov 13, 2007
    thermal expansion is a #%!$#@!
  7. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    It's more about humidity than temperature.
  8. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    I wouldn't worry about it. I have never heard of anyone having an issue opening an instrument immediately upon receiving it. Do you really think retailers wait 24 hours before opening instruments? Things are shipped by truck all the time from warm to cold climates and cold to warm. How about touring bands? Their instruments are usually in the back of trucks for days in all kinds of temperatures. As I mentioned in a similar thread, if companies waited for perfect weather before shipping anything, nothing would ever get shipped.
  9. ...As someone who's experienced cracking on my poly finished bass from going from 2*C exterior temperatures to 20*C ambient temperatures in the bar & opening my bass immediately...you're out to lunch.

    The amount of time needed is going to vary based on the amount of insulation. For a bass that's just in a hardshell case, 10 minutes is good enough. For a bass that's been through -10*C or lower and is now sitting in your living room in a relatively insulated box...give it some time. You really don't want to run the risk of damaging the wood or finish. That said, 24hr might be a bit much.

    Yes, even most stores will wait a few hours before opening their shipments.
  10. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    No, it really is about temperature. :)

    Humidity does create problems, and in the long run, that's what messes with your bass' neck and such...but we're talking about the fact that wood and finish expand and contract at different rates and sudden changes is temperature can ruin the finish of your brand new bass.

    ^^^see the part above where I DID just this to a bass with a sudden warming from outside temperature to stage temperature. That's just about the same thing as 'back of a truck' temperature to at home temperature.
  11. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I walked home from a gig one night and it must have been at least -20 c outside. I got home, took my poly finished bass out of its case and put it on its stand. The next day I noticed two large cracks in the finish on the backside of the bass. :rollno:
  12. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Are you suggesting the temperature and not the humidity level is what's causing the wood to expand/contract?
  13. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Yes. Things expand and contract due to temperature extremes. Wood expands a bit quicker than plastic, which is what causes finish to 'check' and/or also to shatter.
  14. f64


    Oct 31, 2009
    Over the last two years I've received winter shipments of higher end basses from Tenn., Mich and Long Island. Each of these shipments had a warning sticker on the outside of the box suggesting to not open the box immediately.
  15. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    Most stores don't bust open new arrivals like Christmas morning.
    Newly arrived freight usually gets set in the whse for a bit before someone gets to the task of unpacking it.
    Letting the temperature even out thru the instrument gradually (minimizing expansion differential) rather than letting the outside warm fast , while the inside slowly warms is the safest way to avoid damages.
    BUT- it's your instrument, so do as you choose: good luck.
  16. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
  17. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    It's not the cold temperature-
    It's the 'sudden' change that can cause damage.
    (expansion differential).
  18. Ragoo


    Oct 14, 2011
    Richardson, Texas
    Does one have to worry about things like this in regards to hot weather too? A bass sitting in a hardshell case in the back of a truck in the Texas heat might go through the same difficulties as well, yes?
  19. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    It's drastic, sudden changes in humidity level that you need to worry about more than anything.
  20. kcole4001


    Oct 7, 2009
    Nova Scotia
    Better to err on the side of safety and wait (seemingly/agonizingly) too long rather than have a damaged finish on an instrument FOR EVER, is it not?
    Just think of how long it's been out in the back of a freezing truck and give it some time to get back to a normal playing environment temperature.

    So you wait one extra day, maybe less depending on the outside temps.
    Compared to how long you'll be keeping the instrument it's pretty insignificant and costs you nothing.