Will a new bass crack as easily as an old bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Michael Case, Jun 7, 2002.

  1. Hello all,
    This is my first post on the site, I have been playing DB for 2 years now. I own a Strunal with a carved top and plywood sides and back. I would say it's about a year and a half old now and is holding up well.
    Anyway, I have been reading alot about the effects of weather on the bass and I'm starting to get a little nervous. Last summer my bass survived with no noticeable damage. Is this because it's new? Or is it the 17 coats of varnish they put on the bass? I live in NYC and the humidity gets a little nutty, I am using a dehumidifier to keep the level at 50-55%. When I go out I use a dampit.
    Thank you for your time and answers. :D
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I'm in Brooklyn and have the same weather as you.

    With hot water heat, as opposed to forced air like we have back home, I haven't been using any humidity aids at all in the winter as it stays in the 60-65% range in my apartment. I don't think too much humidity is as much a problem as too little. Dry wood likes to crack. If you moved to Brasil or somewhere like that, you'd probably want to pop the top to allow for expansion, but I don't think that you'll have a problem here. When I got my bass (new Italian from Naples), Shank popped the top to allow for the lack of humidity that we have in the NE USA compared to Mediteranian Italy. Sudden hanges in humidity and temperature can cause problems, so don't let it get too hot, and if you get it really hot or cold, let it sit for a while until it's not too far from room temperature before opening the bag.

    One of our resident luthiers might want to pipe in here, but I think I'm pretty close.
  3. Thanks for your reply. My next question is, what do you mean when you say "pop the top?"
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Mike took off the top and let it sit for a day or two and then put it back on so as to relieve stress after changing continents/climate/alititude. He also put it on with a pretty light layer of glue so that seams would pop instead of cracks forming, and I haven't had a loose seam (knock on wood, lightly) yet.

    The situation that you're fighting is that the body of the bass is made out of different kinds of woods, with grain heading in all directions, so when basses expand and contract with temp and humidity, they aren't going to change size uniformly, which then puts stress on things.

    To finish answering your first question, new basses are a lot less prone to cracking than old basses, unless it's a bass with design problems or something. I have a friend here (Jim Camack) that has an old Tyrolean from 1701 and he just about has a heart attack if someone closes the door to hard, so fragile is the bass. My bass is very young and built heavy, so I worry more about scratches than cracks at this point.
  5. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Jim is a MONSTER player and his bass sounds like a dream! He's played the Jazz Capital of Southern Maine several times as a duo with Chris Neville.
  6. Once again, thanks for your answers! My bass seems to be pretty tough, there aren't many flaws (according to the guys at David Gage) and it has withstood one change of seasons, so I guess I'll see what else happens.
    I love this site!
    Ray, when/where will you be gigging next I would like to hear and meet you. I grew up in NYC, but I really don't know too many bassists.
  7. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    You can check out my calendar at my web site www.BassMuse.com, and I also run a spam list which you can join there. It'd be great to see you out.
  8. I'm out in LIC, close to Woodside. Welcome to Queens! I'm at 43rd and Broadway.
  9. Ed, you play with John Raneyif I'm not mistaken. I am on his mailing list. I wanted to see you guys at Coby's (I think that's the spelling) but couldn't make it. I plan to be at your next gig. see you then.
  10. I know Jon from the class he taught at the 92nd street Y.
  11. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    Just for info, Mediterranean climate is actually DRYER than what you've got in NE USA. But you can still pop the top, if you want to.
  12. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    The problem in much of the eastern US is not humidity nor dryness, but the extremes. It can go from 70-80% in Summer to 15-20% in Winter. It's important to humidify in winter, and I recommend de-humidifying in Summer. Of course this year we've had 70% days followed by 20% days--just about impossible to compensate for. IMHO most older basses are LESS prone to cracks--the wood has pretty much done its moving around. However, almost any flatback exposed to extreme dryness and heat will bow inward, very often causing the ribs to split in the lower bout. If a bass has been properly built, with little internal stress, "popping the top" will do nothing but disrupt the evenness of the overhangs, and prevent the bass from settling into its own equilibrium. If I ever hear of anyone doing this to one of my new basses, I'll pop his top!
  13. I have a dehumidifier in my place, but it makes the room hot. Isn't the heat bad as well, or am I being to paranoid?
  14. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    There's the problem--dehumidifiers do heat up the area. A small room air conditioner might be a better solution--it will use about the same amount of electricity, but cool things off as well. Are you being too paranoid? Maybe just a little. A bass will adjust to most climatic conditions--it's rapid extremes that wreak the most havoc.
  15. Thanks for all of the help! Now I just need to convince my girl friend that an air conditioner is the way to go (she hates air conditioners).
  16. Executor666


    Jul 3, 2002
    Depends on the bass, but if everything is identical besides age, a new bass will not crack as easily.:D