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Will the Cold hurt my baby?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by 2BitBassPlayer, Jan 18, 2002.


  1. Next week after exams my friends and i plan on talking a little road trip up north for a few days to stay at a cottage. We all want to bring our guitars and basses along but will the changes in temperature affect them? When we get there we will have about a kilometer walk through the snow to the cottage, and then the cottage will be heated, will that extream temperature change affect the bass?
     
  2. Brendan

    Brendan

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Yeah, the changes in temp/humidity will make the neck shrink/bow if you go to cold quick...but as long as you let it "thaw" before you start playing it...it might get by on only a few saddle tweaks.

    I'd bring the allen wrenches if I were you, but it shouldn't mess it up so bad you'd need a new bass or anything. Only thing I can think to do is just make sure you let it sit in the cabin for a while before you play. A few hours, maybe more...
     
  3. Yup, thats right. Extreme temperature changes with expand/ contract the wood and the metal. It will not cause any permanent damage, but will most probably require a retune and adjustment.
     
  4. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    Unless, of course, you check the finish...
     
  5. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    True.
     
  6. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Shouldn't be a problem, if it has a thick poly finish. Checking normally only occurs with nitrocellulose, correct?
     
  7. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    I would think that even a poly finish would be affected by temperature extremes. Hmmm, I wonder how we can find out? I know I'm very careful with my stuff here in Chicago because of finish damage concerns.
     
  8. progplayer

    progplayer

    Nov 7, 2001
    Back in winter of 1995 I played a gig that ended at 230am (it was -0 degrees that night). When I got home I just wanted to go to bed so I left my crappy Ibanez SR405 in the car. Later on in the afternoon I brought it inside and opened up the case to clean off all the sweat. When doing so I noticed the action was EXTREAMLY high. I was like, WHAT THE HELL!?!?!?!?? I started to play it and it was out of tune and the action was just terrible. Thus my first trip to the luither.

    I owned a Modulus Quantum 5 and that thing NEVER needed an adjustment. Graphite neck, very good. :p
     
  9. I belive the neck on my American Fender Jazz is Graphite reinforced so does that mean i shouldn't even have to worrie about adjustments?
     
  10. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    Nope. It's still mostly wood.
     
  11. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I don't know. I wouldn't want to find out the hard way

    :)
     
  12. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    My feelings, too. Poly and wood probably have different expansion and contraction rates.
     
  13. 2bit and everyone,
    Here, in general, is how to deal with temp. changes.
    It's served me well for over 25 years.

    When you arrive, leave the case closed for at least an hour. When you judge the case's outside temp to be at about room temp open it. When you open it up, watch for a fog/mist to form on the top. If it does, wipe it off quickly and place it back into the case. This simply means that the warmer inside temp. is forming condensation on the colder bass. Close the lid after fanning the lid open and closed a few times to create an exchange of "inside case" outside air. Having already lifted the bass out once assures that the back also got an air exchange. After letting it sit another 15-20 minutes, fan the lid, lift it out and check for fog on the back. The bass should feel about the same temp. as the room's air temp. To be sure, put it back one more time, fan the lid and leave the lid slightly ajar-sitting on it's upraised latches to slowly let room air in. Once you see no more fog/mist forming PLUS it feels a little warmer, you should be safe from finish checking/cracking. Nitro finishes will crack readily. Poly is much more forgiving/tough but it CAN check.

    Do bring truss rod adjustment wrenches, but you probably won't need to make any adjustments unless the cold air is MUCH drier than back at home. I sometimes loosen my strings before temp/humidity changes and then retune after temp. changes settle in but this is more needed when going from cold to hot environments and even then rarely.

    I wouldn't be too paranoid about your trip. I brought acoustic guitars to sub arctic Alaska for 3 straight years and had no problems after doing the case/warm up thing. Good luck and have fun. Jim T.
     
  14. 2bit and everyone,
    Here, in general, is how to deal with temp. changes.
    It's served me well for over 25 years.

    When you arrive, leave the case closed for at least an hour. When you judge the case's outside temp to be at about room temp open it. When you open it up, watch for a fog/mist to form on the top. If it does, wipe it off quickly and place it back into the case. This simply means that the warmer inside temp. is forming condensation on the colder bass. Close the lid after fanning the lid open and closed a few times to create an exchange of "inside case" outside air. Having already lifted the bass out once assures that the back also got an air exchange. After letting it sit another 15-20 minutes, fan the lid, lift it out and check for fog on the back. The bass should feel about the same temp. as the room's air temp. To be sure, put it back one more time, fan the lid and leave the lid slightly ajar-sitting on it's upraised latches to slowly let room air in. Once you see no more fog/mist forming PLUS it feels a little warmer, you should be safe from finish checking/cracking. Nitro finishes will crack readily. Poly is much more forgiving/tough but it CAN check.

    Do bring truss rod adjustment wrenches, but you probably won't need to make any adjustments unless the cold air is MUCH drier than back at home. I sometimes loosen my strings before temp/humidity changes and then retune after temp. changes settle in but this is more needed when going from cold to hot environments and even then rarely.

    I wouldn't be too paranoid about your trip. I brought acoustic guitars to sub arctic Alaska for 3 straight years in a a row and had no problems after doing the case/warm up thing. Good luck and have fun. Jim T.
     
  15. OOPS! Sorry about the double send there.
    One other tip I forgot to mention though, is that you can choose which part of the room to initially place your axes. Start out in the coldest part of the room. Maybe under a bunk? Whatever's closest to the outside one kilometer hike temp. and then gradually move the cased instrument out towards the open/warmer part.
    Also be cognizant that heat rises, so on the floor is better at first than on the top bunk of a bunkbed etc.
    This really isn't complicated science or anything, just use some common sense and everything should be cool.
    Don't get obsessed. Eat lunch, go out for a hike/ski, whatever before you even open your cases and you will find that the case is at room temp or closer anyway.

    To expand on this subject slightly, if you know that you're traveling somewhere where the air is MUCH drier you can always stick a humidifier device (available at any music store) in your case or carry a small humidity reader/meter (from the hardware store?) and get an idea if cracking a window a hair or reducing heat in the room will get you close enough to what it is back home. Jim T.
     
  16. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    You will may have some problems with action, intonation, etc as the neck freaks out. But if you are going to have it in a fairly warm car, and only walk 1 kilometer (that's barely a half mile, right?) I wouldn't worry about it at all. I imagine there be no noticable effect. 20 minutes in the cold isn't going to let the finish get that cold. By the time you get everything squared away and are ready to play, it'll be fine.

    As for the finish checking, embellisher is right on. I have NEVER seen poly with weather checking. The thing is, it never really completely dies. It remains slightly plastic. You could heat it to 200 degrees in an oven and throw it in ice water and it would not check.

    Ever see a guitar with a decent-sized ding in it but the finish wasn't broken? That's because the finish is elastic enough to stretch to the shape of the dig. For tone, nitro is king, for durability, you can't beat poly.

    Chas
     
  17. Velkov

    Velkov

    Jan 17, 2001
    Lansdowne, Ontario
    Here's my story.

    I got picked up after practice on saturday night by a friend of mine. He drove us to the bar, I left my bass in the car. A couple of hours later we left the bar he gave me a ride home. I took the bass out of my gigbag and it felt so cold it hurt me inside. I felt sooo bad. I started playing it and it was out of tune and the action was too high. Next time I am in a situation like this the bass is coming with me. I don't care if there is no permanent damage, I'm not leaving my bass in -10 Celcius again.
     
  18. gweimer

    gweimer

    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    Jim T. pretty much summed up what you should know. I'm also one of those who doesn't want to find out the hard way about different finishes. My former guitarist will attest to the fact that a guitar case getting flung open fresh out of extended sub-zero weather results in massive checking. Oh, and it sounds like bubble-pak getting stomped on for the curious.
     
  19. Chasarms,
    I agree with you about Poly finishes up (or down) to a certain point, but I have to say that I have seen checked polyurethane finishes over the years that were subjected to SEVERE temp. changes. I'd want to err on the side of caution with my babies. Due to application/drying practices, how well the two part mix was mixed at the factory/luthier's,etc. are all variables that minus zero weather can wreak havoc with. You know it's a Murphy's Law kinda thing. If it's MY bass and I get careless it WILL check!:rolleyes:
     
  20. By the way, the 1/2 mile walk thing IS probably a minimal concern. You might not need that hour. BUT I forgot to mention this.
    When I place my axes in the car, I often forget that I may be heating the body (when it's standing up on the car floor against the seat,etc.) more than the neck, etc.
    It's all such a delicate balance. Don't forget to check for fog/mist on the back of your neck as well as the body.
    Such uneven heating/cooling may summon a neck adjustment more than even heating. While we're on this subject, just in case some newbies don't know, when flying one should loosen the strings on your axe so that the differing cabin pressure/cargo hold pressure doesn't warp your neck.

    OK, enuff axe neurosis for me for one day!;)