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Thread: Mandolins outside

  1. #1

    Default Mandolins outside

    Spring is slowly arriving in my area. We had a couple nice days, and a lot of terrible ones still, but will get nice eventually. Iíve been thinking about taking my mandolin to play outside. Iím a newbie, so not sure how much my neighbors will like that idea Iím guessing a mandolin would be sensitive to extreme conditions. Iíve heard the 24hr acclimation time on shipped instruments to prevent ďfinish checkingĒ or something, not too sure what that is about. Is there a minimum/maximum temperature and humidity level? I only have 1 mandolin and like it a lot, so donít want to damage it.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Mandolins outside

    The most useful rule is that the instrument will be comfortable anywhere you are comfortable. If it is too hot, cold or wet for you to go out in normal street clothes then it is probably not good for your instrument. The other is do not leave it inside a hot car or a closed car on a hot day.

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  4. #3
    Registered User Randi Gormley's Avatar
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    Jun 2008
    Connecticut, USA

    Default Re: Mandolins outside

    your finish may be sensitive to things like DEET and sun tan lotion, so be careful if you're using those sorts of products. and don't leave your case outside in the sun with the instrument inside it. just a couple things i thought of.
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  6. #4
    Registered User Bunnyf's Avatar
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    Oct 2015

    Default Re: Mandolins outside

    I live in SW Florida, where it’s hot nearly all year and humid most of the year. More often than not, jams are outside so playing in less than ideal conditions is frequently necessary. We are careful about obvious stuff like leaving instruments in hot cars or in cases left out in the hot sun. I have only one mandolin and it’s in the $750-1000 price range. By necessity, it goes with me in most all conditions. If I had a more expensive instrument, I might consider getting a decent but low priced mando to use as a beater for the most extreme weather or generally perilous conditions. I’m tempted myself sometimes to pick up a Rogue and break out Rob’s setup guide and make me a campin’ mando.

    My mandolin seems to be holding up fine under the weather conditions here but strings are an all together different issue. They can get eaten up in one day in hot humid weather or with a salty breeze. While I like T-I strings, I stopped using them on instruments that leave the house regularly, for this very reason. They are just too expensive to blow through. I switched to Elixir and I now also use a string conditioner (like fret magic or string ease) before and after I play.

  7. #5
    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
    Rockville, MD
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    Default Re: Mandolins outside

    In playing orchestral music outdoors in summer the main issue (other than seams opening) was sweat buildup on strings, leaving salt behind. The salt attracts moisture, and dust sticks to the wet strings. Rosin is helpless against slime, so I always cleaned the strings with denatured alcohol, being very careful to let none drip on the varnish. The ebony fingerboard was not damaged by the brief wipe. Safest way to do it was holding my viola with the top facing down. The unvarnished neck got a wipe, also.

    Clean strings worked great.
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  8. #6
    Registered User
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    Sep 2002
    Aberdeen, Scotland

    Default Re: Mandolins outside

    The only nice places to sit out here (northeast Scotland) at the moment are in sheltered areas in direct sunlight.

    I'm not keen on too much direct sunlight on my mandos.

  9. #7

    Default Re: Mandolins outside

    A mandolin will carry a long ways outdoors, indoors as well. It is surprising how far you can hear a mandolin.

  10. #8
    Hack jeff_75's Avatar
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    Oct 2002
    Those Hills of Ol' Virginia

    Default Re: Mandolins outside

    There's a story in one of Bill's biographies somewhere about his mandolin being left in an open case during a rain storm at a festival or show. At showtime, he picked it up out of the case, dumped the water out, and went on to perform. And this is arguably the most valuable mandolin in the world now.

    Your mandolin will be just fine outside in moderate weather for reasonable periods of time. Don't let it overheat in direct sun, in or out of a case. Don't ever leave it in the car long on a warm day. And Bill's rain trick is probably best left to Bill. Otherwise, use common sense like you would with any nice thing and have at it. You should be far more concerned about the conditions in which the mandolin lives when it's not being played.
    "I'm a farmer with a mandolin and a high tenor voice."

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  12. #9
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Apr 2014
    Palmer, Texas

    Default Re: Mandolins outside

    I like being outdoors whenever possible. Like to play music wherever I am. I believe there are centuries of bards of yesteryear, and blues (and other) basking musicians of the past century to give me confidence in my lack of worry in such matters. Just use common sense to protect and not abuse the instruments you love and take them with you and use them until you use them up.
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  14. #10

    Default Re: Mandolins outside

    In addition to the advice against leaving the mando in the car or closed in the case in direct sunlight on a very hot day, for people in colder climates, the same goes for very cold days also.

    The biggest danger is rapid changes in temperature or humidity. For temperature rapid change in either direction can be dangerous (hot to cold or cold to hot). For humidity it's mostly going from very humid to very dry. That's where the advice on acclimation of shipped instruments comes from -- allowing the instrument to stay closed in the case if you're going from one extreme to another (very hot outside into a cool air-conditioned building, or very cold outside into a nicely warm building). Let the instrument cool-down or warm-up slowly over a couple or three hours before opening the case.

  15. #11
    Registered User William Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Mandolins outside

    This reminds me of a story my great Uncle DICK Smith told me, years ago he let Jimmy Gaudrou borrow his mid 50's D-28 probably when they played with either the Country Store or Country Gentlemen and they were at a festival and it was very hot. Uncle Dick asked where his Martin was and Jimmy said in my trunk-well Uncle Dick said it was ruined! Sure enough they went to get it and the top was completely caved in! TRUNKS ARE BRUTAL FOR ANY INSTRUMENT-THAT IS A NO NO!

    Try playing at a fest that's wet or very humid-your prized instrument sounds terrible!

  16. #12

    Default Re: Mandolins outside

    Thanks everyone. Sounds like everything should be ok as long as I stay away from trunks and rain. I just checked our weather for the next week - all cold and rainy. We had one day at 60 degrees and I get all excited. Maybe next month we can go outside.

  17. #13
    Registered User j. condino's Avatar
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    Nov 2005
    Asheville, NC

    Default Re: Mandolins outside

    The only place your mandolin can survive is indoors secured in a glass enclosed climate controlled space......
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  18. #14
    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Nov 2003
    Richmond, Virginia

    Default Re: Mandolins outside

    I play about as loud as a barking dog. The neighbors don't really mind.

    I never think about the local weather, but for rain. I do play outside all the time and have done this for decades. I don't personally like being outside when it's too cold; however.

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