It’s that time of the year again. The summer temperatures are rising and the weather is becoming humid. The days are long and the nights stay warm. All signs are pointing to the magical summer festival season. From Bonnaroo, to Coachella, to Lollapalooza and Governors Island, the amount of festival gigs are endless. Don’t forget all the wonderful local and regional festivals occurring nightly all over the country.
As a musician, you not only need to be aware of the ways to protect your equipment while traveling from festival to festival, but you also need to understand the ways that heat and humidity can damage your instruments and delicate mixers causing anything from stoppages to irreparable harm.
One of the challenges faced when traveling is how to properly protect your equipment from various hazards. Possible threats to the integrity of expensive electronic hardware include physical shock from drops or bumps, electrostatic discharge, and even theft. As you bounce around the country from festival to festival many different people will be helping you with your equipment, so it’s always important to invest in top of the line cases and racks.
Dangers of overheating
You might not have considered the dangers of your equipment overheating. It can be challenging to prevent when equipment is constantly being unpacked, racked, and packed again. Below are some ways that you can protect your gear from overheating while out on the road:
Use racks that fit correctly
Make sure to purchase racks that are appropriately sized for your gear. Attempting to “shoehorn” your equipment into racks that aren’t the right fit leads to heat buildup and shortened equipment lifespans. Never stack your equipment on top of each other. Using a rack is the only way you can maintain the correct airflow.
Keep in mind that the fit between a piece of equipment and its rack is more than just about the actual lengths and widths involved. It also includes factors such as orientation and depth, too. For example, if you can’t fit your amplifier into a rack horizontally, but it can comfortably rest in a vertical orientation, you may feel fine with the solution. However, the truth is that most gear is designed to rest in one orientation in order to maximize the cooling of the unit. Locate the ventilation holes on your equipment and make sure that your racks allow for equipment to be properly mounted in order to discharge excess heat.
Keep your equipment clean
When on the road, it’s easy to let your equipment become dirty. Your schedule is nonstop and often you leave one musical festival at night in order to be at the next in the morning. Not to mention, festivals are often set up in fields and the crowds kick up lots of dust into the air.
Since road gear is rarely cleaned with any regularity, it quickly becomes filthy and dusty. While cosmetic considerations matter, it’s the potential for overheating that you really need to worry about.
Dust, dirt, and other accumulated debris can block cooling vents, settle on fan blades, and even serve as an insulating “blanket” over the exterior of equipment cabinets. All of these situations lead to potentially destructive overheating of equipment.
Fortunately, it’s easy to protect your equipment by following a couple of sound practices:
- Use fully-protective cases when equipment is not in use or in route to a destination
- Don’t leave equipment exposed to the elements during setup
- Use a small shop vacuum and dusting brush to clean during down times
Make room for cooling fans
Another way to keep your gear from overheating is by using fans placed in strategic spots inside your racks. They don’t need to be large — even small USB-powered fans will do the trick. Battery powered fans work too, but just be sure to keep fresh batteries on hand.
If you’re using a particularly hot piece of equipment, you may want to consider investing in a permanently installed fan inside the interior of the case cabinet. It’s wise to consult with a qualified technician regarding installation options and costs.
Keep gear out of the sun
If you’re going on stage midday during a festival, it’s imperative that your amps and mixers are kept out of direct sunlight. It’s the roadies jobs to set up and break down, but they are often in such a rush that they will set up your gear in direct sunlight without any thought. Be clear that you’d like your equipment in the shaded portions of the stage.
Swap it out
If you know it’s going to be particularly hot at an upcoming festival you might want to think about bringing some backup equipment. Swap out your equipment to prevent it from overheating. It might be impossible to swap equipment during a set, but if there is an intermission or you are playing multiple sets, rotate your gear when you get a chance to allow it to cool down and get a rest from the heat.
Allow for a cooling-off period after use
When the show is over, eager roadies may hurry to get your gear back into cases and button-down portable racks, but such haste can lead to heat-related damage. Not allowing equipment to cool down can be a mistake, especially if gear contains integral cooling fans that are also shut down when the plug is pulled.
Always give your gear plenty of time to air out and cool down after use. Don’t pack your case while your equipment is still hot. Consider a portable infrared thermometer to monitor temperatures; these devices are inexpensive and instantly tell you when gear has cooled down sufficiently.
During festival season, keeping care of your expensive gear is just as important as putting on a good show. In fact, working gear is essential for the show to go on. Don’t neglect the importance of keeping your musical equipment cool. For more information about rack cases and other equipment to help you protect your gear, contact an Encore Product Specialist today for customized case solutions to all of your rack case needs.
Since 1976, Encore A&S Cases has been protecting your valuable instruments and equipment. If you’re looking for world-class craftsmanship and the highest quality materials, turn to us. We are one of the world’s premier case suppliers. Call us at 818-768-8803 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.