Well, here we are. It’s already late-November and the temperature in the UK has taken a sudden, if expected, dive. Nothing unusual about that I guess but for us bass players, or any musician, the drop in temperature is something we need to be aware of and take action against.
The majority of us musos spend our lives cosseted in the warm and dry, be it at home, in the car or in a venue, studio or schoolroom. Most of these locations are dry, cosy and can be adjusted to a temperature best suited to the activities taking place. This does, however, mean that the range of temperatures that our bodies and our equipment are subjected to vary much greater than any other time of the year.
In my October post “Hello.. Is This On?”, I dealt with the issue of leaving your equipment in the car overnight. To summarise, not only is this a security risk but the huge swing in temperature and humidity between a heated venue and the night-time cold, dry air can cause damage to any wooden or electrical devices or instruments. The same can be said of any outbuildings such as garages or sheds where inside temperatures can vary widely from day to night.
The rule is simple, ALWAYS store your instruments indoors where the conditions are stable.
The often overlooked victim of the cold snap is YOU. Ok, so we all complain about the cold and we can wrap ourselves in many layers to keep our core temperature comfortable but the part of you that is actually going to do the work at that day’s rehearsal or gig is often left out. Your hands and fingers are suddenly going to be required to explode into action come gig time and if they have been exposed to the cold during load-in or maybe just hanging out with the band in the car park during the speeches, they are not going to take too kindly to being called upon to perform in the manner that you are accustomed to.
At this time of year, I always take some warm gloves with me and try to leave them on until the last minute to ensure my muscles have been kept as warm as possible. I can often be seen just before gig time, frantically waving my hands in front of me to get the blood flowing all the way to the tips of my fingers. This may look a little odd but believe me, it can prevent serious, long-term muscle damage in the hands.
For obvious reasons, I don’t get asked to perform many outdoor gigs in the winter but they DO come up from time to time and these warming techniques have been vital to my performance as a working musician and also to my future health and fitness.
Look after your equipment and your body during the winter chill or you may find the consequences lasting long after the sunshine has returned.
So to finish, here’s a clip of the amazing bassist Zander Zon playing THAT song….. It really is beautiful