Gear advice When touring into very cold areas


Hi all.

So my band is going on our first national tour (yay) here in South Africa. We live in Cape Town on the coast and we're going pretty much all the way around and through the country. Temperatures drop WAY lower in inland SA (cam be below freezing). And i am admittedly concerned about our gear because all the live and session work i've done has been coastal/local.

I was wondering if anybody has any advice on caring for our gear while travelling? I have heard horror stories of how fluctuations in temperature can hurt instruments and gear.

I own a big van so most of it will be travelling with me along the road. This includes drum kit, acoustic and electric guitars, amps, saxophones, violins, and PA system. Any advice is most welcome.



Senior Member
I think air pressure has more to do with hurting instruments than raw temperature does, but dont quote me on that. Temperature is easier to protect against though.

Try talking to a local shop owner about getting a backline kit for the road. A shop ordered me a popular selling mid-quality tama kit knowing that I would return it for 2/3rds the money back after 3 weeks of touring. The shop makes a profit selling it "used" even though its pretty much a brand new kit.


Gold Member
Humidity is a bigger issue than actual air temperature. As the weather gets colder the humidity usually decreases, exp. when snow is involved, causing the wood in your instruments to dry out. I dont think its such an issue with drums and electric guitars as they are pretty well sealed. Where weather can wreak havoc is on guitar necks and acoustic guitars. I have seen an acoustic guitar left in low humidity environments for long periods of time actually crack down the seam.

You will need to tune your drums at every gig and your guitarist will need to tune way more often, but I wouldn't worry too much about the effects on your drums for the length of a tour. The effects of weather takes years to accumulate.

Big Foot

Silver Member
When you bring your gear in from an extended stay in the cold (ie, sitting in a cold car for a few hours or a planes cargo hold) all the metal parts are going to get condensation on them as the warm-up - maybe even on the laquer finish. I live in Quebec, it's happened to me on occasion.
So expect metal surfaces to be "damp" every time you bring them in the venue. Once or twice is no worries but over a winter it might be good to limit the exposure to the cold.
If you are going from a warmish car or van straight into the venue, I wouldn't worry.

Also, dry wood doesn't suffer that much with temperature changes. Your drums should be fine but maybe keep the guitars warm...


Silver Member
Be grateful that plastic heads are the norm. Calf "reacted" to humidity changes in big ways.


Platinum Member
tempature fluctuatins are the worst. I live in Canada. it gets to about -40F here in the winter. and 95F in the summer. talk about a spread.

I bought a kit years back off a guy that did alot of touring.. this is the stuff that happens in the cold

It got worse from me gigging in the winter.. leaving them in the garage all year long.

if you can. warm your car up before loading gear. and keep em inside as much as you can. gig bags are a must too.

now that i got my masters kit i would never let them get like this so when i play a show i bring them inside fast

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
For any instrument hot and humid would worry me a lot more than a bit of cold.

When moving from one extreme to another. Keep them in their cases to acclimatize for a while.

10-20 degrees variation won't really matter much.

Leaving them in Siberian cold and then take them on directly to an indoor stage with hot lighting is a different matter. That wouldn't be good for any material.


Platinum Member
As has been said, rapid temperature change from cold to hot is your worst enemy. I live in a place where it gets well below freezing at least half the year, yet I've played outdoor summer gigs at 100 degrees F.

I have had no problems with drum gear at all. Electronics need to be allowed to warm up and condensation dried before they are used, if brought from a very cold environment into a warm indoor setting. Keeping things cased and allowing some time before use helps.

I don't really think you need to worry a lot as long as you pay a little attention. Minimize rapid temp fluctuations, and allow time for equipment to warm up after bringing it in from the cold and you will be all right.

Hope this helps.

PS - this applies mostly to drums and electronics. Some acoustic guitars and fiddles may be more sensitive, but the same basic rules apply. I play with a fiddler who uses a valuable vintage instrument, and with a modicum of care, she has not had problems.


Senior Member
Living and having toured in Finland I nor any of my friends have had any problems with the cold that I know of. Naturally hardware feels a bit cold when it's been in about -20 Celsius but so far no problems.

I also think that humidity has a larger effect on gear, especially acoustic instruments.