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Hello? Is this on….?

October 15, 2015


Tatty BassSo, you’ve taken the plunge and bought yourself a bass and possibly some form of amplification to carry you forwards? Maybe you’re a little further up the road and you’ve got yourself in a band and you’re playing live or even recording? You’ve saved your money and you’ve researched your purchases and you’re a happy bunny. You are a musical craftsman or woman, and your tools are as important to you as they are to a plumber. mechanic or dentist. They need looking after and they need careful handling or they will let you down when you may need them the most.

Imagine the late-night rehearsal or finishing a gig at some ungodly hour, the temptation to throw your bass, leads, strap or tuner into the bag and chuck it all in the car to facilitate a speedy getaway is all too huge. Then you get home and the family are asleep and the last thing they want is for you to be banging and crashing around downstairs putting your gear away so you leave it in the car overnight, it’ll be ok right?


Let’s deal with these things in order….

Your equipment has spent several hours in a premises (gig or rehearsal) which is undoubtably heated, getting pounded by your sweaty fingers, possibly assaulted by very drying air-conditioning and beer sloping punters. Your beloved instrument is dirty, sweaty and sticky and you’re just going to pack it away to dry into a smelly, crusty mess? Your amplifier has been drawing in air to cool itself, air that could be hot and humid. Your leads have been slipping and sliding across the dusty floor all evening, gathering up god-knows-what and you are happy to coil this up and throw it in your bag, certain in the knowledge that it will work perfectly when you need it next time.

You pack your gear into the car which has been sat idle all evening so inside it’s cold and you drive home with heating on full blast. When you get home you decide to leave it in the car overnight so it’s gets cold again, assuming it doesn’t get stolen!

You can see what’s happening right? You have a wooden instrument and sensitive electronic equipment which is experiencing extremes of heat and cold which is causing the wood to expand and contract and introducing condensation into areas where electricity and moisture shouldn’t co-exist. Your leads are covered in slime and you’ve wound them around your arm before tying them in a knot which puts huge strain on the jack plugs and connections inside.

The next time you take your bass out, it doesn’t feel right or it’s buzzing where it wasn’t buzzing before. You turn your amp on and there’s a pop followed by some smoke but no noise or you plug in and there are all kinds of pops and bangs every time you try to move because your lead is failing.

I know this all sounds very extreme but it is a real problem.

Here are my tips for maintaining your gear in perfect working order.

  1. ALWAYS wipe down your instrument after a rehearsal or a gig. Remove any sweat or moisture from the surface and wipe your strings off too. I have a selection of bar towels that I keep in my case for this purpose.
  2. Allow your amp to idle for a while after the gig, it will cool itself down and the components won’t be under any stress.
  3. Coil your leads in a circular fashion the way climbers coil their ropes. Never knot them or wind them around your forearm. Use a towel to wipe off any substances from the lead before you coil them up.
  4. Never leave your gear in the car overnight, even if you have somewhere secure to park. Ignoring the obvious insurance risks, a car parked outside or in a garage can get very cold overnight and equipment which was recently hot will suffer if it’s left to get too cold immediately afterwards. Always take your equipment indoors to enable it to re-acclimatise gently.
  5. If you follow a simple cleaning and inspection routine, your equipment should perform faultlessly for many years. Don’t be that “has anyone got a spare lead?” guy!!!

Here’s a great little video about coiling cables,

See you soon!!

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