Jan 31

How Winter Affects Your Gear

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As winter slushes on and temperatures hit their lowest, it is important to know how to safely care and transport your gear if you are heading into the studio to record, or simply hauling it to a gig. The common materials

(plastics, wood and electronics) that make up most of our gear react differently to the change in temperatures. Here is a quick overview of what they are:



Gear that contains any plastic material are not as susceptible to moisture as they are temperature. The plastic material becomes hard and brittle. Cables become more stiff and plastic parts are easy to shatter or break. Be sure to avoid shock such as large bumps in the car or bending the material. In warmer temperature, the material can be much more forgiving!



Most wood contains a certain amount of moisture embedded in it, aside from extreme conditions of heat and dryness. The amount of moisture in the wood helps to determine the woods strength and density. A dramatic change in temperature (say transporting drums in a cold car or leaving your guitar in a cold garage) will cause the moisture to freeze and expand the wood. Once exposed to warmer temperatures, the moisture thaws and the wood shrinks. Doing this on occasion will mostly affect tuning and should not cause any permanent damage. Your best bet is to control the moisture levels with a humidity control system. This ensures that your instrument is protected against dramatic changes of humidity brought on by temperature. Instrument cases also help to shield your gear from the immediate cold air, and can insulate it for short transportation trips.



When a guitar amp or pedal (or really anything that contains electronics) is brought into a cold environment, the surface temperature drops. After the surface temperature drops it is susceptible to condensation brought on by exposure to warmer temperatures. So if you plan to bring gear into the warm indoors from from the cold outdoors, be sure to give the gear time to warm up, condensate, and then additional time to allow it to evaporate before turning it on.





B.J. Fine Technical Articles: Wood, Temperature, and Humidity

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