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Beginner Is it safe to play outdoors, perhaps in extreme weather conditions?

Throstur

New Member
Messages
12
Most people will be familiar with the Simpsons scene where Bleeding Gums Murphy is sitting on the Springfield bridge playing his saxophone in the dank, cold night... this is my dream - to play outside during the night, on traffic overpasses, bridges, mountains, roundabouts...

I've never actually played the saxophone, except for a one hour lesson and about 5 minutes in the car before I came inside tonight (I came home a bit late and I just picked up the instrument tonight and didn't want to wake the neighbours, the walls are solid and pretty soundproof but not the ceilings)...

Anyway, I live in Iceland which makes it very difficult for me to know whether or not it's safe to play outside. I have NO idea what a saxophone can stand (I just know that it's a bad idea to play the electric guitar in the rain, but then again, that'd probably be bad for the saxophone as well because of.. rust?)

So my question is as follows: What weather conditions are OK for playing and what weather conditions are not?
In Iceland, we will generally have very dry air, but sometimes, it will be very cold and very humid (sometimes not so cold, but humid). What temperatures are "safe" to play while outside, and what weather is safe? Can I play when it's snowing, do I have to go inside if it starts to rain lightly? How about heavily? Will wind have any effect (we have lots and lots of strong winds here)? Anything else I should have in mind?

Please give as much detail as possible if it isn't a hassle for you, as I'm dieing to go outside while it's still summer to practise in the sun! Thanks in advance!
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
I'm sure the others will have lots to say.

The sax was invented (partly) for military use to replace the somewhat ineffective instruments being used at the time. In principle OK to play outside. Temperature affects tuning, the colder, the lower (flatter) it'll play. What's going to be a bigger issue is sub zero, your lips and fingers are going to freeze onto the instrument. Metal mouthpieces are out. You may also find the keys getting sluggish with the cold as the oil/grease thickens up. In general the instrument is waterproof, but if you get a lot of water on the pads it won't play as well until they dry out. Bigger problem would be heavy rain, when the bell will get flooded. Keep an eye on the corks as well. The glue used may let go when things get cold. If you use it outside a lot in the wet, it'll probably need oiling more often. And clean well. Salt is a big enemy, so if there's any in the air, wash off every time. I'm not sure how well the felts will hold up to getting wet, but you can easily replace them with corks at the cost of a little noise.

I'd guess the limit for most of us would be endurance, but you're probably a lot tougher than most of us....

Would be good to get Stephen Howard's Haynes saxophone manual and learn how to replace corks/felts and do a regular oiing session.
 

jeremyjuicewah

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,890
I would just go out and try it and be ready to pack up if things dont go well, but if you pick a sensible day I cant think anything will. Worst thing of playing outside is that no matter now remote you think you are, about eight minutes in someone will come along. Happens so often in Spain I have given up really.
 

Targa

Among the pigeons
Subscriber
Messages
8,898
Extreme saxophone playing could become a new sport with everyone trying to outdo each other as to the worst conditions they can play in.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Extreme saxophone playing could become a new sport with everyone trying to outdo each other as to the worst conditions they can play in.
Thy'll have to go some to beat Pete 'playing' under water...
 

Sunray

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,708
Dare Devil ...

Ha Ha - Don't play on wobbly bridges and other scary places in "High Winds" ... :)))

Do - Consider you personal safety seriously ... :mrcool
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
Been struck by lightning eighty-three times on top of our eleven storey flats in thunderstorms.

Kinda stimulating.
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,554
The community band in which I play plays outsid at British Camp (a col along the Malvern Hills) every boxing day.
Last time, it was cold and there was snow underfoot - about 15cm (6" for the benefit of those older than me!)
As said elsewhere, tuning was a bit of an issue, but we were all out of tune, so hey hum!

I hadn't realised that you could actually play with numb fingers until then :))) but eventually the pain from the cold got too much and we went home after about 45 mins.

It was a good session though.
here we are there:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/singlereeds/sets/72157625550593085/
 

Sunray

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,708
Sparky ...

Been struck by lightning eighty-three times on top of our eleven storey flats in thunderstorms.

Kinda stimulating.
Ah! - I wondered - You have such an electrifying personality mate ... :w00t:
 

Staxman

New Member
Messages
8
Extreme saxophone playing could become a new sport with everyone trying to outdo each other as to the worst conditions they can play in.
Brilliant idea ! I have played on a sailing yacht in the Solent but that want really extreme. Taming the saxophone....has me thinking....its a great concept....who is the first to volunteer to play in a lions cage - sort of snake charming for mamalian carnivores.
 

jeremyjuicewah

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,890
We laugh at that sort of thing. Get round mine and try playing when the misses is watching Sex in the City. Get a whole new bend in your sax.
 

Sunray

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,708
Proof of Life [Extreme Sax life] ...

If your gonna do it - We all need to see the photo's ... :sax:

So get your camera ready ... ;}
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Another thought, keep an eye on the springs, if they're blued steel, they'll rust very quickly. Touch of oil will help. Or get them replaced with stainless ones. Won't be as springy, but won't rust, either.
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,554
Brilliant idea ! I have played on a sailing yacht in the Solent but that want really extreme. Taming the saxophone....has me thinking....its a great concept....who is the first to volunteer to play in a lions cage - sort of snake charming for mamalian carnivores.
I'm doing a tandem sky dive for our local hospice in August.
I did consider trying to source a cheap old sax that I could play on the way down :))) :)))
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
Been struck by lightning eighty-three times on top of our eleven storey flats in thunderstorms.

Kinda stimulating.
You could try a rubber sax which might help with insulation.
Don't encourage him Targa. If they take away his housing warden there won't be anyone to damp down the smoke. Anyway it's his own fault for wearing those steel capped boots.

Sorry I have nothing more sensible to add to the other good answers to Throstur's orginal question.
YC
 

MartinL

Member
Messages
366
Most people will be familiar with the Simpsons scene where Bleeding Gums Murphy is sitting on the Springfield bridge playing his saxophone in the dank, cold night... this is my dream - to play outside during the night, on traffic overpasses, bridges, mountains, roundabouts...

I've never actually played the saxophone, except for a one hour lesson and about 5 minutes in the car before I came inside tonight (I came home a bit late and I just picked up the instrument tonight and didn't want to wake the neighbours, the walls are solid and pretty soundproof but not the ceilings)...

Anyway, I live in Iceland which makes it very difficult for me to know whether or not it's safe to play outside. I have NO idea what a saxophone can stand (I just know that it's a bad idea to play the electric guitar in the rain, but then again, that'd probably be bad for the saxophone as well because of.. rust?)

So my question is as follows: What weather conditions are OK for playing and what weather conditions are not?
In Iceland, we will generally have very dry air, but sometimes, it will be very cold and very humid (sometimes not so cold, but humid). What temperatures are "safe" to play while outside, and what weather is safe? Can I play when it's snowing, do I have to go inside if it starts to rain lightly? How about heavily? Will wind have any effect (we have lots and lots of strong winds here)? Anything else I should have in mind?

Please give as much detail as possible if it isn't a hassle for you, as I'm dieing to go outside while it's still summer to practise in the sun! Thanks in advance!
We played in the street in minus lots during the cold snap just before Christmas last year.... "Hednesford town Christmas lights".. there were more in the band than the audience, bloody cold but we all survived, instruments too, LOL
 

Throstur

New Member
Messages
12
Another thought, keep an eye on the springs, if they're blued steel, they'll rust very quickly. Touch of oil will help. Or get them replaced with stainless ones. Won't be as springy, but won't rust, either.
I have no idea how to check that, but I have an EM Winston BOSTON 455LX Alto Saxophone, 10 years old, bought hardly used. Only repairs done to it was a quick fix-up because some of the keys were kind of stuck and one of the flaps was closing when it shouldn't have or something like that, so I'm pretty sure all the parts are stock. Any idea what kind of metal are in those springs?
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Easy to check - stainless steel springs are bright, shiney chrome coloured, while blued steel is dark blue, easy to see under a good light. Stainless is used a lot on flutes and modern chinese saxes, while blued steel is used on most other saxes.
 
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