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Thread: Best bet on a road trip

  1. #1
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    Default Best bet on a road trip

    Looking for a little advice. I have 3 mandolins. A Michael Kelly A solid that is all solid, has a decent tone but is lacquered to death, as seems to be the case with a lot of cheap imports. A 1940 strad o lin that has a wonderful warm deep tone with a solid top and I think laminate back and sides. It has a couple cracks on the top. My third is a Nashville built Flatiron performer A, also with a couple small cracks but they are professionally repaired. I will be taking a month long road trip to the Rocky Mountains and will be bringing one but which will best survive. I have pretty much ruled out the Flatiron so it's between the lacquer-full all solid Michael Kelly and the partially solid Strad. Truth be told, while it isn't the best sounding of the bunch I like playing the Michael Kelly most of the three. Just feels right so I don't want to ruin it. If it's something that would just require a new setup it would be no problem but I think the heat of the car for days at a time could spell the end. Suggestions? A carbon fiber would be ideal but isn't in the cards. I did get a mostly plastic uke to mess around on that will also come.

  2. #2
    Every day is a gift. Sheila Lagrand's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best bet on a road trip

    Take the Michael Kelly. Buy one of these: https://smile.amazon.com/CS-3-Ukulel...4157705&sr=8-1 for 40 dollars, or one of these: https://smile.amazon.com/Deluxe-Thic...4157836&sr=8-5 for 26 dollars, and then you wont need to leave your favorite mandolin in the car while you're off exploring. While driving, you can keep it in the shady part of the car, yes? And use A/C?
    Now, what was I after when I wandered in here?

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    Registered User Pappyrich's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best bet on a road trip

    I once was advised to wrap instruments that would be left in a car in a "space blanket" with the silverside out. This helps reflect the heat.
    Richard

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    Default Re: Best bet on a road trip

    Not saying you need to spend $$ but aren't you going past Bernunzio's, Chicago music exchange and the Folk school, Elderly (bit of detour), Dave's in Lacrosse, Denver Folklore and others?

    But it should be ok in a car for short periods if you open sunroof and crack windows and cover with e.g. white styrofoam but the big new thing out here is stealing catalyitic converters so don't leave it long.
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  7. #5
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    Default Re: Best bet on a road trip

    The temperature inside a parked car in the summer can exceed 130 degrees F., even with the windows cracked. That's enough loosen glue joints, warp wood, and melt finish in a matter of only a few minutes. It can completely ruin an instrument, or at the very least cause many hundreds of dollars worth of damage.

    It is a more common cause of major instrument damage than drunken debauchery, dis-gruntled lovers [sorry about that, Bill], curious toddlers, or just plain oops, I sat on it.

    The old saw is to never leave your instrument in the car longer than you would leave your child.

    I opt for the $40 - $100 semi-disposable bottom of the line instrument. If it survives the trip, you can give it a child interested in music.

    In the old days, I had an Applause guitar with a plastic back, composite neck, and die cast aluminum fingerboard that could take more abuse than just about anything else. They don't appear to make mandolins, but you could get one of their guitars and hone your guitar skills or, if you don't know them, learn your basic chords.

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    Default Re: Best bet on a road trip

    It seems to me that you probably have the Michael Kelly for exactly this kind of journey, and it doesn't sound like you want to take the other two.

    Take it and look after it as best as you can. There is a risk in taking anything anywhere but I think you would regret it if you didn't have something. Travelling is often a good opportunity to have a jam with other fellow travellers you might meet on the way.

    I suppose you could use the time to learn the harmonica or something.
    David A. Gordon

  9. #7

    Default Re: Best bet on a road trip

    Hey guys!

    I think this is my first post on here, but just thought Iíd share. I have a Kentucky 150 that I left in my car in the summer in LA for maybe a day or two. The glue holding the two pieces of the neck weakened and the sting tension just bent the neck right along the seam. Iíve been meaning to reglue it but that experience definitely makes me think twice about ever leaving anything in my car.

  10. #8
    Front Porch & Sweet Tea NursingDaBlues's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best bet on a road trip

    Guy I know drives from Colorado across Utah and Nevada to Tahoe for an annual vacation. He bought a used Yeti cooler to hold two of his fiddles. It’s pretty large. Before he starts, he puts the Yeti in the room where he keeps his fiddles and leaves it open for a couple of days to get the interior acclimated to room temperature. Then he secures the fiddles, case and all, drops in a humidifier, seals it up and off he goes. Says that he tried it out first with only a thermometer inside to see what impact a closed-up car and then in direct sunlight would do. He said that three hours in both conditions only budged the thermometer a couple of degrees. Sounded pretty good – if you really need that kind of thermal protection. That said, I think I would do my own personal test with a thermometer – especially with a used Yeti or Yeti-style cooler – if I was going that route. Not sure but I think that some camping/RV businesses may rent Yeti coolers.

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    Registered User Denis Kearns's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best bet on a road trip

    Having just got back from a visit to New Mexico where the zero humidity made me worry about the guitar and mandolin I brought, I wondered if it would be better, next time, to bring my resonator mandolin and resonator guitar? Both have metal bodies. The mandolin’s a 1937ish national and the guitar is an inexpensive Johnson with a cone upgrade. Was wondering about how they would do in a car as well. Where I live is dry, but sheesh, nothing like New Mexico at 7,000 feet! I had case humidifiers, but they didn’t do enough to combat the low humidity..

    The only time I leave my instruments in the vehicle is when I’m going inside the gas station to take a leak…. I do like the Yeti cooler idea, but thefts are an issue (and I did have to replace my catalytic converter a few years back).

  12. #10
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best bet on a road trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Denis Kearns View Post
    ...I wondered if it would be better, next time, to bring my resonator mandolin and resonator guitar? Both have metal bodies. The mandolinís a 1937ish national and the guitar is an inexpensive Johnson with a cone upgrade...
    The metal bodies of your instruments won't be much affected by low humidity, but you could lose moisture from the necks and have the fret ends protrude from the side. I remember a really nice Mossman guitar displayed in a sunny shop window for some months; you could see the fret ends sticking out, looking from outside the window. Old Nationals are well-known for not having well-seasoned necks (my '36 Style 0 guitar had to have the fingerboard planed after its neck warped), so I'd be cautious.

    Never hurts to use case humidification when you're taking instruments into desert country. If you check 'em every day, and perhaps double up on the humidifiers, you can keep the instruments within acceptable parameters. Another expedient is to ask your local instrument dealer to save one of the plastic bags that comes around instrument cases when they're shipped, and put it around the instrument with its humidifier inside the case. I used to do this in my old apartment which got pretty arid with winter central heating.
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    Default Re: Best bet on a road trip

    Thanks for all the advice. Still not sure which route to go. A cooler big enough to store a mandolin in its case would take up too much real estate in my car. There will be a few days at a time where the mando is locked in a car so it is what it is. Maybe I'll try and find a real cheap-o for the trip. The Michael Kelly sort of is that but I do like that instrument so would hate to kill it.

  14. #12
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    Default Re: Best bet on a road trip

    Would take the tension off the strings while it is left in the car help at all? Seems like if there is nothing pulling if the glue heats up there is less chance for damage. This is mainly a fishing trip so leaving the car without being able to take the mandolin for periods of a day or two is unavoidable.

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    Default Re: Best bet on a road trip

    Also, what about those ovation/applause mandos? Would that do any better?

  16. #14
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best bet on a road trip

    If you really do get stuck, and youíre out in the woods, leaving the car for a couple of days then you could always wrap the case in polystyrene and a bin bag and then bury it! Always carry a shovel because you want it to be deep.
    The mando will be cooler than you but there may be other issues. Spray the ground with bear repellent ?

    Check for signs of bears, Park Rangers and other savage beasts first.

    -you could maybe bury the catalytic converter at the same time.

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    Default Re: Best bet on a road trip

    Feels a little too pirate-ish for me

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    Default Re: Best bet on a road trip

    Carbon fiber ..(I like my Mix A5)
    writing about music
    is like dancing,
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    Default Re: Best bet on a road trip

    Which ever one you take if your road leads to the airport keep the wisdom of James McMurtry in mind.


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    Default Re: Best bet on a road trip

    Tuning the outdoorukulele GDAE was discussed not long ago.

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...-tuned-to-GDAE

  22. #19
    Registered User mbruno's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best bet on a road trip

    I'm really confused but maybe I missed this. It sounds like you're just driving through and not planning to leave the instrument in the car (at least I didn't see any mention of that in the post).

    If you're just driving through, there's no real issue - bring whatever you want. I highly doubt your car will get hot enough while your driving to cause issues - if it does, I suspect that the mandolin glue is the least of the worries haha. I just drove from San Diego to New York with a stopover in Denver with my Newson mandolin. No issues whatsoever while driving (including getting gas etc) - though I did make sure to cover it up to avoid tempting a thief. When I stopped for longer, I brought it in where I was staying. If I was camping, I was playing it outside anyway - but I'd bring it in my tent overnight. Potential issues could be the changes in the humidity from one place to the next. You can mitigate that with a humidifier somewhat - but generally, if you tune the instrument when possible, I don't think this is a huge issue (unless you're going to a really humid place like Costa Rica or something). I don't think you'll have any issues from CT to CO honestly - I've never had an issue at least.

    As a rule, I would never leave an instrument in a car for any long period of time unless I was in eye sight of my car and it wasn't crazy hot. Aside from the temp issues, it's just begging to be stolen. I've seen so many posts of "I just left it there for a few hours" or "it was hidden under something overnight" from folks that had their cars/vans broken in to it's ridiculous. The location doesn't seem to matter - I've heard of instrument being stolen from cars parked in "nice neighborhoods" just as much as those parked in the bad ones. Aside from losing the mandolin, usually you need some car repair too (window etc). It's just not worth it IMO. I would more recommend getting a backpack case and just taking it with you.

    If you absolutely have to leave it in the car, the summer is the wrong time to travel with it unless you're okay with the very strong chance that any mandolin you have in the car will be damaged by the time you return. Spring and Fall maybe are okay depending on the weather. That said, definitely cover it up with something, keep in a shady part of your car, and remember that the temp in the car is typically much hotter than it is outside - even with the windows cracked. I would second the post about not leaving your mando in the car longer than you'd leave a baby / pet.
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  24. #20
    Registered User Denis Kearns's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best bet on a road trip

    How about finding a local (i.e., real) music store with a good reputation? You could pay a small fee for them to hold your mando while you’re on your hike. And, if you get eaten by a bear, they get a free mando with an interesting backstory. I don’t think I would ever leave an instrument in a vehicle for any period of time. It’s bad enough that I worry about my old Toyota truck being stolen while I’m in the backcountry - I get people wanting to buy it all the time.

  25. #21
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    Default Re: Best bet on a road trip

    Don’t leave it in the car…

    Reunion Blues case with backpack straps? I used to have an Eastman 315 that was my “beater.” I took it to the beach (Sullivan’s Island, SC) for several years, but its most extreme test was a camping trip in late July near Asheville, NC, during a pretty awful heat wave. We hit 103-105 for several days straight, with Deep South humidity, which is a little unusual for that region. I left it in the tent covered in dirty laundry in the shade during the days (I don’t think we put a lock on the tent, figuring that would draw attention, and we got a sense that those around us were OK peeps the first night) and played it every evening.

    If you’ve got time order a Rogue A style and set it up well. If not, take the MK and treat it as well as you can.
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