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How the weather can change the shape and sound of an instrument

Summer is the time for outdoor concerts. But how does the heat and humidity of summer affect the instruments that provide such fun songs?

FOX Weather talked to an expert, who is a musician in itself, about the impact / role of weather on drums, guitars, pianos, winds and strings.


"Drums are the core of much of the music we listen to," said Darryl Anderson, drum designer / artist support at Yamaha Corporation of America. increase.

Drum shells are usually made of wood such as maple, birch and mahogany. On the other hand, the snare drum, which is the main drum heard in many music, can also be made of metal.  

The circular surface that stretches across the drum shell, called the drum head or skin, is often made of plastic. (As the name implies, the skin was originally made of natural materials such as goat skin and cowhide).

The weather can have a huge impact on the various materials of the drum, as well as the sound quality of the drum.

For example, remove moisture.

A man plays the drums.
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"For drum heads, if you are dealing with real nature skin On the playing side, the drum head absorbs moisture and loosens, making it very dead and low pitch, "Anderson said.

"This also applies to the shell itself, where the drum shell is made of wood. The drum shell absorbs moisture, which becomes unnecessary mass and density for the vibrating wall."

Extreme temperatures can also damage the drum.

According to Anderson, leaving the drum in a 110 degree environment can crack the paint on the drum. Drum shells are generally made up of thin veneers and multiple layers of wood, but at such high temperatures these layers can separate without being glued together.

Sudden temperature changes can also cause havoc on the equipment.

"I've seen it not only on drums, but also on cymbals," Anderson says. "I've seen the cymbal crack because it's so brittle after being struck in a very cold and warm night club."

Preventing this kind of weather-related damage Anderson recommends that you pay attention to the environmental conditions. For example, a drummer living in Florida needs to be sensitive to how the instrument works under certain conditions, as it needs to deal with factors such as salt water and high humidity.  

He emphasized the importance of raising awareness of how an instrument feels and sounds. That way, you can clean and maintain your instrument before it causes serious damage.

"If you're serious about music, you'll want to take care of your instruments," Anderson said.

"So if you have work to do and you need to play that show and it happens to be a thunderstorm, or if you're playing a gig and you're in the middle of the Las Vegas desert, then Be careful and take care of the instrument accordingly. "


" People who do not live in the world of instruments see how fragile acoustic guitars are. I'm certainly not aware of it, "said Andy Winston, technical sales specialist for guitar and bass. Yamaha Corporation of America amp.

A man plays guitar inside his home.

"It really happens to be a finely tuned work of art. It happens to make a beautiful sound because of the wood, so we need to take care of it. We need to treat it as if our lives depended on it, as if we couldn't make music without it. There is. "

Acoustic guitars are generally made of wood. Some guitars may have a spruce wood top and a mahogany back, while others may be made entirely of spruce or laminated wood.

Electric guitars may use alder or mahogany for the body, and the neck of the guitar is made of mahogany. Then the electrical hardware is screwed into a specific part of the guitar.

According to Winston, temperature and humidity can cause havoc on the guitar.

For example, musicians living in the South, where high humidity is the norm, may risk the acoustic guitar absorbing too much water and causing the guitar wood to swell.

Guitar metal parts can also be compromised by these weather conditions.

A man plays an electric guitar with his band.

"Customers living in boats have come several times and he I wondered why all the hardware on his guitar was rusting and starting to turn green, "Winston said. The moist environment of his house gathered on his guitar and caused damage.

However, lack of moisture can damage your guitar. Winston pointed out how dry guitars tend to crack and tear, especially when there is maximum pressure and tension from the strings.

However, the ideal conditions for a guitar are easily within reach.

"If you keep your guitar or have a guitar collection, try to keep the relative humidity in the room around 45-55%," Winston said. .. "Yes, it may sound like Florida, but it's the best for your instrument."

Winston sounds a guitar for musicians who keep their guitars in their cases. We advised to track the humidity using a device installed in the hall that reads the humidity level.

He also recommends keeping the guitar out of direct sunlight and cleaning the instrument after playing, especially in hot and humid environments. 


"Music is good for your soul and health," said Ryan Ellison, a piano service supervisor at Yamaha Corporation of America. "This hopes more people will have instruments in their lives."

Pianos are mainly made of wood, but cast iron, steel and aluminum. There are large parts made of copper and other metals. Felt products are used throughout the piano, plastic is used as the key top material, and polyester gives the piano a glossy black finish.

A piano stands on a stage.
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The materials used in the piano, along with the need for piano maintenance , Most important. According to Ellison, it is affected by humidity.

"They have the ability to take in water and drain water in the cell structure," Ellison said.

"For example, very dry, cold, very dry, low humidity, as well as high and high humidity-these limbs, the situation is difficult for the piano."

Ellison pointed out that low humidity can cause piano wood to separate, as the wood loses so much water that it cannot stay with it during production. Conversely, when the humidity is high, the wood can absorb the moisture. This stretches the cell structure of the wood and pushes the wood into itself.

"The way to influence the piano is to stretch the strings on the bridge that connects to the soundboard," Ellison said. The strings are set to the correct tension level, so if you attach a wooden soundboard and stretch it, the tension of the strings will change and the piano will be out of tune.

A man plays the piano.

For example, according to Ellison, Southern California pianos are a lot. As the Santa Anna wind blows, tuning will vary from late August to around September.

"The humidity level drops dramatically," he said. "The wind comes down the valley and the piano just drops the pitch."

According to Ellison, the ideal humidity level for a piano is 45% and the tolerance is 35-55%. is.

"Pianos most often have maintenance needs throughout the cycle of the season, and what you may encounter in very humid and very dry seasons, and that. What should we do to prevent or maintain? "He said. 

Wind and Strings

"Everyone is a fan of music, but making music and being part of the physicality of the instrument are very different." Winds' Austin Snowden said. & Strings product specialist at Yahama Corporation of America.

Windmills are classified into different types of wood and metal. Wood instruments are most commonly made of wood called Grenadia. Grenadia is an African wood with ideal acoustic properties due to its hardness and density. Metal windmills are often made of brass, and some are coated with gold or silver.

A pile of string instruments lie propped up against one another.

String instruments are traditionally mainly wood, such as spruce and maple. However, the equipment is electric and has metal parts.

Wind and string instruments can be affected by the weather, regardless of the component.

"If you think about it, when heat is applied to an object device, the heat causes the object to expand, and the low temperature causes it to contract," says Snowden."Therefore, when talking about instruments that vibrate to generate sound and should expand and contract, it affects not only how those sounds resonate within the instrument, but also the resonance capabilities of the instrument. It is possible. ”

The physical integrity of the equipment can also be compromised.

Wooden wind and string instruments are particularly vulnerable to heat and moisture.

"If you have a wooden instrument, you can imagine that it's moist, especially if you're blowing warm air, but in a freezing cold environment, the damp can freeze up. "Snowden said. "It can penetrate cracks in trees and expand further. It can cause cracks and really harm the equipment in the long run."

Caused by heat and humidity Changes can also warp and damage the metal strings of instruments such as violins.

Metal wind generators cannot absorb moisture, but they can still be affected. Moisture can cause the instrument to expand and contract at the molecular level, according to Snowden, which can acoustically change the way the player perceives the sound projection and reaction of the instrument.

"It's very important for players to be aware of what the weather is like, what they're coming to, and what they're coming and going," Snowden said. increase. "When you listen to an instrument, the musicians warm up. They need to not only warm up the chops, bass and muscles, but also physically warm up the instrument."

Snowden is a player We encourage you to maintain awareness of this climate no matter where you play.

"Ideally a nearly consistent climate," he said. "But no matter where you live, there are some weather factors that need to be carefully prepared."