Tips for dealing with humidity in summer outdoor shows.
Summer is here and the touring season is well upon us. I'm a guy that loves the sun and warm weather, but am not the biggest fan of humidity. I've lived my whole life in Tennessee, so you might think I've grown accustomed to it by now. Sadly, I have to report... no.
For the next couple of months, almost all of our shows will be in amphitheaters with a few festivals thrown in, and anything outdoors can put a twist or two in your daily routine. I'm not even talking about rain—we don't like to mention the "R" word when playing outside, although we see plenty of it every year. I'm referring to everyday preparation for a gig where you're losing 5 pounds just through sweating!
I'm a self proclaimed Gear Nazi, and the well-being of my equipment is of highest priority. My distaste for humidity runs pretty deep, so I'm here to share a few tricks I use to help you deal with it while gigging in the summer months.
The first thing I guard against humidity is tube amps. All of the heat produced when powered on for hours at a time greatly increases an amp's tendency to sweat inside the case if the amp doesn't have a chance to cool down before getting closed up. Bands and crews case hot amps every night, usually without a single problem the following day, but I don't like the thought of the foam lining inside the case holding that moisture against my amps while they ride in a truck overnight. Over the years I've seen some parts, like corners and screws, rusting-—even a faceplate on one particular amp. Unfortunately there's only about 20 to 30 minutes for me and the other backline guys to wipe the stage of all band gear and have it loaded and strapped on the truck, so as I'm packing I try to leave the amps as the last pieces to get lids and maximize the amount of cool down time.
I keep a couple of small fans with me on the road to help keep all of my amps comfortable. I aim them directly at the back of the amps to keep air moving around the tubes. Just enough to keep air circulating around the power tubes works wonderfully and is honestly not a bad thing to do on any given night anyway. When the thermometer starts getting close to triple digits, it can be a necessity. The fans will help keep them cooler, which means less heat inside the case after it's closed up...which means less chance for condensation...which means less worries about amps at night.
When it comes to guitars, I'm very careful about letting instruments acclimate to the climate I'm in. I won't immediately open any guitar case that's been in air conditioning overnight. That's not to say you won't still have to do a neck tweak after the guitars settles in with the temperature and humidity, but this can at least minimize it. Baby powder is another good thing to have on hand when playing in high heat. I use a little on the back of the guitar neck, and will usually coat my hands with it a couple of times during a show as well. The last thing anyone wants is a sweated up guitar handed to them before they get a chance to do it themselves!
Brad throws tons of guitars picks during our shows. Instead of using pick clips, I put them on long strips of tape, allowing me to reload a mic stand quickly. Unfortunately, cloth gaffe tape can have a tendency to absorb so much humidity it will literally fall off the stand. Thankfully, I found that 3M makes a vinyl duct tape with roughly the same adhesiveness of masking tape. It holds a row of picks perfectly, and I don't have to worry about the whole strip coming off by merely pulling a single pick. And as crazy as it sounds, I'll still have to wipe the mic stand down with rubbing alcohol first. After they're outside all day in 90% humidity not too many things will stick to their surface, so if you've been to one of our shows and it looks like a guy is cleaning mic stands--that's why.
Other than that, I hope you are able to find some shade--or preferably an air conditioner! Be safe and see ya out there!
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
LegendaryTones, LLC today announced production availability of its new Mr. Scary Mod, a 100% pure tube module designed to instantly and easily expand the capabilities of many classic amplifiers with additional gain and tone shaping. Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
Originally released as the Lynch Mod in February 2021, the updated Mr. Scary Mod features the same core circuit as the Lynch Mod but is now equipped with a revised tube mix combo per George’s preference as well as a facelift in a newly redesigned electro-galvanized steel enclosure. As with the Lynch Mod, each run will be limited and the first run in Pumpkin Orange with Black hardware is limited to just 150 pieces worldwide.
The Mr. Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage on top of the cathode follower position, keeping note definition and articulation while further increasing sustain. Each Mr. Scary mod is meticulously built by hand in the USA, one at a time, and tuned using high-grade components. Equipped with a single ECC81 (12AT7) in the first position and ECC83 (12AX7) in the second, the Mr. Scary Mod can clean up beautifully when rolling down your guitar’s volume, and still adds scorching gain when you roll it back up. This is a gain stage that’s been tuned and approved by the ears of the maestro George Lynch himself.
“The Mr. Scary Mod excels with dynamics and is incredibly touch-responsive, allowing me to shift from playing clear, lightly compressed cleans to full-out aggressive sustain and distortion –and control it all simply by varying my guitar’s volume control and picking,” said GeorgeLynch. “In many ways, it’s an old-school approach, but it’s also so much more natural and expressive in addition to being musically fulfilling when you can play both the guitar and amp dynamically together this way.”
The Mr. Scary Mod installs in minutes, is safe and effective to use, and requires no special tools or re-biasing of the amplifier. Simply insert the module into the cathode follower preamp position of compatible amplifiers (includes Marshall 2203/2204/1959/1987 circuits) and
immediately get the benefit of enjoying a hot-rodded amp that delivers all the pure harmonic character that comes with an added pure tube gain stage. The handmade in the USA Mr. Scary Mod is now available to order for $319.
For more information, please visit legendarytones.com.
October Audio has miniaturized their NVMBR Gain pedal to create two mini versions of this beautifully organic-sounding circuit – including an always-on gain device.
The NVMBR Gain is a nonlinear amp that transitions gracefully from clean boost to overdriven tones. Volume increases from just over unity to about 10db before soft-clipping drive appears for another 5db of boost. Its extraordinary ease of use is matched by outstanding versatility: you can use it as a clean boost, push a stubborn amp into overdrive or create a just-breaking-up sound at any amp volume.
October Audio’s new family of mini NVMBR Gain pedals includes a switchable version that allows you to bypass the effect: one option features brand logo pedal graphics, while the other sports a fun “Witch Finger” graphic with a Davies knob as the“fingernail”.
The second version in the new lineup is an always-on device featuring the Witch Finger graphic and Davies knob, with the same NVMBR Gain circuit that lies at the core of the switchable version.
- Knob controls gain and clipping simultaneously
- Stunning silver hammertone finish
- Switchable versions are true-bypass, available with classic or witch finger graphics
- Authentic Davies knobs, including the “fingernail”
- 9V center negative power supply required
- Dimensions: 3.63 x 1.50 x 1.88 in
Witch Finger (always on NVMBR Gain) demo
All October Audio pedals are assembled in Richmond, VA, and available for purchase directly through the online shop. Street price is $109 for NVMBR Gain footswitch versions and $89 for the always-on device.
For more information, please visit octoberaudio.com.