Electronics and rain/weather

Hello all,

I have decided to use our PA for indoor for the upcoming outdoor marching band season. We will be micing the keyboard instruments and use 1 synth player.

My question to you all is.....what do you do when it rains? Or drizzles?

Or [i]looks[/i] like rain? Do you even take the PA outside?

What do I do with the synth player when we have a slightly rainy rehearsal with no PA? If its raining at a show, does the synth player even get in to uniform?

Though most towns require a GFCI on any outdoor circuit, do you put your own inline as a just-in-case?

Do you even bother setting up the PA for football games? Only home games?

Im confident in the PA itself, how we set it up, and our ability to set it up in a timely fashion. Just looking for some ";best practices"; kinds of things regarding weather.

Thanks for any help and ideas!
Thanks a lot all. Exactly what I was looking for.

Our proposed synth player may be exploring other options (by not showing up to our rehearsals).


Charlie I like the step by step rain plan, thanks!
";Rain mallets"; have been standard equipment for years.  It is a given that rain is going to happen eventually.  Remember the Boy Scout Motto - Be Prepared!
[quote author=Charlie Nesmith link=topic=3651.msg19414#msg19414 date=1275572585]
You're welcome!

I'll also throw in that rain has varying effects on mallets. Mallets made from some type of cord, or synthetic tend to hold up very well in rain and will have a nice consistent sound even if they get wet a few times. But mallets made of yarn/wool will either get much harder (Van Sice's) or get much softer but with more bite at high velocities (turning them into Stevens mallets)

If you had some extra old mallets around, you could switch to those when it rains, then if they get messed up, you could teach the kids how to wrap them again! Could be a fun learning experience.
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I have used myself and with my groups, ";rain mallets."; Essentially, we just toss in a bunch of unwrapped mallets for everyone to switch to.

On tour once, I remember a bit of rain coming down right before our ballad. Our pit instructor yelled out, ";rain mallets,"; so we switched. It was probably the funniest thing I heard all summer. All of those (supposed to be lush-sounding) permutated rolls sounded like a heard of cats running across our keyboards. There was definitely more than one sly grin among the group that day.
You're welcome!

I'll also throw in that rain has varying effects on mallets. Mallets made from some type of cord, or synthetic tend to hold up very well in rain and will have a nice consistent sound even if they get wet a few times. But mallets made of yarn/wool will either get much harder (Van Sice's) or get much softer but with more bite at high velocities (turning them into Stevens mallets)

If you had some extra old mallets around, you could switch to those when it rains, then if they get messed up, you could teach the kids how to wrap them again! Could be a fun learning experience.
[quote author=Charlie Nesmith link=topic=3651.msg19410#msg19410 date=1275513814]

[b]Drizzle:[/b] If synthetic marimba: Keep playing. If vibes: Put empty plastic mallet bags (the ones that come with new mallets) in between the felt and the bars. The vibes still function but now you won't ruin your felt. Always have a few of these in every vibe mallet bag.
[b][/quote]

Charlie, great idea on using the empty mallet bags over the vibe felts.  Thanks.
Also, in my groups all members of the pit should be in uniform if the band is. (although typically not wearing any type of hat/helmet since they have to look down so much) This helps prevent ";the band thinks the pit is lazy"; syndrome.

I also liked them to set up electronics for games because it's good practice for shows and the parents deserve a good show ;) Let's them know all their fund-raising went to good use.
Well I marched the first year Amps were allowed. It was an interesting and experimental process. But basically our practice was something like...

[b]Looks like rain:[/b] Get the tarps ready.

[b]First drop:[/b] Pit unplugs main power and covers all electronics

[b]Drizzle:[/b] If synthetic marimba: Keep playing. If vibes: Put empty plastic mallet bags (the ones that come with new mallets) in between the felt and the bars. The vibes still function but now you won't ruin your felt. Always have a few of these in every vibe mallet bag.
[b]
Rain:[/b] Mallet instruments get covered up. If it looks like it's going to rain for awhile, either the pit goes inside to continue work or they get on the equipment truck where their practice pads are ready to work timing exercises, rudiments, or run through the show pad style.

Now the real tricky part is when you have a big show and by chance you get a flash of rain in the middle of your show out of nowhere. This happened to a group that I taught a few years back where the electric guitar was essential to the show. Since this was virginia's big state show that's uber important, the band director decided to ride it out. We ended up ruining both giant Yamaha Speakers :(  You'll need to check on your official competition rules, but in the future I may have my staff cover the stuff mid show. (sometimes you can get disqualified for this, so be sure to check)
I work for a high school band that generally has a pit with 4-6 players. Last year for the first time we miced some of the mallets: 2 mics on the marimba, 1 on the vibes. We also had an electric bass.

There is no power source at our practice location, so we use a rechargeable portable battery with built-in inverter (i.e. there are 120V AC outlets in the battery casing). For shows we will generally plug in to ground power when it's available, but occasionally if things look iffy I will just go from the battery because I know it's clean power. If I do plug into ground power when it's raining or when the ground is wet, I make sure that the connection between the extension cords is off the ground.

We output our miced sound with keyboard and bass amps, and when it's raining we cover the tops with cymbal bags, plywood, etc. - whatever is available that can get wet. Our mixer hangs out inside a plastic bag before the show, and then when we set up it goes under the podium so it has a ";roof"; on top of it.

We've never used a synth, and I would think this would be the trickiest part of the whole deal, since this is a device most prone to getting water damage, since the holes are facing up. Perhaps it could go under a 6-foot podium when it's wet outside?

We always use amplification in performance, and if it's raining in rehearsal the entire pit, including its electronics, are most likely inside. Occasionally if rehearsal weather is iffy we will simply leave the amp and mixer inside so as to not tempt fate.
[color=red]Well, I'll throw in my two cents here, but there are FAR more qualified people on this Forum who I hope will speak up.

A little background: we've done electronics ";seriously"; for the last four years. We've never mic'd a keyboard though, but I don't know how much that will alter my responses vs. what info you are looking for.[/color]

[quote author=Tito link=topic=3651.msg19180#msg19180 date=1274105879]

My question to you all is.....what do you do when it rains? Or drizzles?

>>[color=red]I'm with Keith -- it's usually an all or nothing when it comes to the pit, so whatever you've been doing there will probably provide you with the insight you are looking for.[/color]<<

Or [i]looks[/i] like rain? Do you even take the PA outside?

>>[color=red]Where I am, we don't get much rain, so even if it looks like rain, we still take our gear out. Armed with our iPhones, we can keep a pretty good eye on the radar, so we have an educated idea of what's likely to happen.[/color]<<

What do I do with the synth player when we have a slightly rainy rehearsal with no PA? If its raining at a show, does the synth player even get in to uniform?

>>[color=red]If it's enough precipitation to keep the electronics from being hooked up, we usually just keep the pit inside. And as far as uniforms, we get into uniform if the band is in uniform -- few exceptions, and none of them have to do with rain.[/color]<<

Though most towns require a GFCI on any outdoor circuit, do you put your own inline as a just-in-case?

>>[color=red]Here's the lack of expertise on my part, but I think you'll really want a good conditioner to plug your power into. You're probably looking at $150-$200 for a nice Furman one. They are supposed to be worth it for all of your power variables. (We didn't get one because we're poor.)[/color]<<

Do you even bother setting up the PA for football games? Only home games?

>>[color=red]Every game, every performance, no matter what.[/color]<<

Im confident in the PA itself, how we set it up, and our ability to set it up in a timely fashion. Just looking for some ";best practices"; kinds of things regarding weather.

>>[color=red]Here's another place where I hope others chime in because I really want to learn what others are doing. I'm going to a new job next year and they don't have electronics in their pit, so over the course of the year, I'll be making purchases to make that happen for the following year. When I do, I'll look very carefully at making sure everything is as organized and purposeful as possible. The last thing you want is to be exiting the pit after a performance and have all kinds of electronic crap hanging all over the sound board and speaker carts. At pretty much each game/contest this year, I spent about an hour afterwards untangling all of the cords and putting stuff away. If we hadn't bought our sound gear, in pieces, over the years, by two different directors with two different ideas about what we needed (one director of which would never have to deal with it........... ahem..... but I bitterly digress....), then we probably would have been tons more organized.

It says a lot to have great carts and a solid plan for how to get cables where they need to go. Short story: don't cheap out on what you need. Buy a little longer cable than you think you'll need, because you'll need it.

That's my perspective from the ghetto.[/color]<<
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We have all of our electronics (two synths, mixer, bass amp, inverter) housed in one big unit (lovingly called the Monster).  We had vinyl covers made for all of our keyboards and one for the monster as well.  Keeping the cover handy when a sudden shower comes up is all you can do.  For rehearsals, if it's raining or threatening it stays inside (along with the rest of the pit really).

As for shows, we play it by ear as much as we can.  We use the equipment at all games and so far we've been lucky.  Nothing in our marching show design is dependent upon electronics, so we're not missing anything if we go out ";unplugged";.  The same for competitions.

While outside we run everything on two deep cycle gel cell batteries.  Again these are housed in the unit.  Plugging in the power isn't a worry.

Sorry if that doesn't give you what you need as for best practices.  Like I said we've been lucky on show days so far.  But again, you'd be surprised how much help a good water proof cover can be.
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