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 playing in the rain
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2019-06-17 13:48

I sat in with a small band playing marches and old-time favorites yesterday. We rode a band wagon - Hill's Band Wagon - through a drenching rain for the Bellows Falls, Vt. Alumni Day parade. It was great. Most of the music was sight reading for me but I could handle it, marches by R. B. Hall and E. E. Bagley etc. and swing tune arrangements, all from multiple generations ago. The musicians got soaked through, but the folks lining the street were all smiles and vocal appreciation. Some danced in the rain to the swing pieces as we passed, including younger people, which was nice to note.

Temperatures were not cold: except for the rain it was comfortable short-sleeve weather. I play my wooden R13 outdoors in those temperatures every summer with my regular band, so I used it in the parade. I figured water alone wouldn't damage the wood, though I wasn't sure about the pad glue. It dried off ok after the parade and seems fine - I used it at a rehearsal of my regular band in the evening.

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 Re: playing in the rain
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-06-17 15:24

I was never particularly worried about rain in decent temperatures either but it does help to take a cloth (I keep a 100% cotton flannel cloth in the case at all tines ) and wipe off any excess moisture from around the keys and posts. Unfortunately springs can begin to rust if rain is left on them too often.

Oh, I wanted to add that the biggest issue for me regularly playing in the rain is the flip folder. Make sure you take out the music and the black paper backing to allow them to air dry. Otherwise your music will begin to smell like a wet dog.

.............Paul Aviles

Post Edited (2019-06-17 17:33)

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 Re: playing in the rain
Author: Tony F 
Date:   2019-06-17 19:48

Last year a band I play with had to play in driving rain at a memorial day parade. I dried the instrument (B & H Imperial) off after the gig but a few days later I started to get clicks and clunks from the keywork. On stripping the keys off I found that most of the springs and rods showed signs of rust. I lubricate the instrument regularly, so this surprised me. I've switched to a lithium-based light marine grease, which stays where its put and doesn't migrate. No problems so far.

Tony F.

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 Re: playing in the rain
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-06-17 20:16

Tony F wrote:

> On stripping the keys off I found
> that most of the springs and rods showed signs of rust.

Tony, I don't doubt that this happened, but it begs a question for me: what are those rods and springs made of? Rust happens when iron oxidizes in the presence of water. I always thought the springs on high level clarinets were made of steel, which is supposed to be impervious to rust. I don't know what the rods are made of, though I always assumed they were also steel, though not blued as spring steel is.

What metal are they made of that rusts? Or is the "rust" actually some other kind of corrosion that also happens in the presence of water?


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 Re: playing in the rain
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-06-17 21:09

You have to remember that rain now has a high acid content (that's why you see new cars with that white plastic Seran Wrap on them headed to dealerships).

...........Paul Aviles

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 Re: playing in the rain
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-06-17 21:58

Paul Aviles wrote:

> You have to remember that rain now has a high acid content
> (that's why you see new cars with that white plastic Seran Wrap
> on them headed to dealerships).

So, is this "rust" some other corrosion (i.e. from acid rain) or are the metals involved actually susceptible to rust or some equivalent form of oxidation? If the problem is the acidity of the rainwater, I suspect more than just "rusted" metal might be at stake - acidic rainwater might do a number on pads and plating. It might also wash out lubrication that water wouldn't affect.

I'm not asking all of this to be contrarian - I've never really worried about a little rainfall if I needed to get from a bandstand to shelter when a sudden storm or drizzle developed during a concert, although I haven't ever continued to play in rain. Maybe I should have been more concerned.


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 Re: playing in the rain
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-06-17 22:39

No particular worry........just wipe it off (and blow out the moisture under and between things).

I would guess there was already some degradation to the springs on the above example that was not seen until the rain incident mentioned. It does take some time and more than just a couple exposures to get into trouble. But as an active duty US Army musician (where many battalion commanders don't care about a little rain spoiling a Change of Command Ceremony) I've seen more than my fair share of rainy gigs.

.................Paul Aviles

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 Re: playing in the rain
Author: Philip Caron 
Date:   2019-06-18 00:18

There are no rust/oxidation-proof metals, though a massive amount of scientific ingenuity has been applied in that direction. Some metals are somewhat resistant for a time. An eye-opening and enjoyable book is "Rust: The Longest War" by Jonathan Waldman.

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 Re: playing in the rain
Author: Tony F 
Date:   2019-06-18 02:32

Mine is an older Imperial. The rods are made from what I had assumed to be stainless steel, but evidently it isn't so. The springs are made of blued steel, except for a couple that I replaced with stainless. The deposit was certainly rust. The instrument had been completely stripped and rebuilt a couple of years before and I maintain my instruments regularly. These days I use a Yamaha C100 if I'm going to play outside and I've never experienced problems with it.

Tony F.

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 Re: playing in the rain
Author: Luuk 2017
Date:   2019-06-18 14:00

Ok, another anecdote. In August 2017 my band participated in the so-called Princely Tattoo in Liechtenstein. This is a kind of open air festival during which the same show is given on three consecutive days, plus a parade. Each day, we participated in an opening show, presented a 20 minutes marching show and closed off the evening with an all-artists parade. You can see pictures of the 2017 show here:

We arrived on Wednesday, August 30, and had a walk-through rehearsal on the stage, which is located on a small mountain in castle ruins. That night there was a thunderstorm, ending a period of 30+ degrees (C). The next day was the first day of the tattoo. It started raining and temperatures went to 12 degrees. Since we had to show up three times (including the street parade) during the next days, we tried to keep our uniforms, music and instruments as dry as possible by wearing large see-through ponchos. This helped a little but it was really raining a lot. The next day, weather became worse: more rain and temperatures dropping to 8 degrees. Liechtenstein is located in the middle of the Alps, and we could see the snow line getting lower and lower. Several participants cancelled their show (like a roller-skate show) because there was more than two centimeters of water on the stage. The ponchos were abandoned because they looked bad, and everything got soaked anyway. Large brass had to pour out litres of water during the show, music had to be reprinted in a local print shop, uniforms had to be put on while still wet. My clarinet got so wet during show that sometimes the register vent didn't work because water was covering the hole. In the surrounding Alps, land slides happened, blocking some of the roads. Third day, the same (but now 6 degrees).

For Liechtenstein, this summer week ended up as the coldest and wettest since early 1900's. Compliments for the audience, 100% present while completely sold out: not only the artists, but also the audience had no roof or cover and umbrellas were not allowed (!).

Back home, it appeared that two saxophones suffered from pads falling off, and two clarinets had developed leaks. A third clarinet had to be completely repadded.

Given that about 15 clarinets and 8 saxophones were exposed to excessive rain during several days, this seems little damage. Three or four of the clarinets were Vito's (plastic), including mine, the rest was wood.


Philips Symphonic Band
The Netherlands

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