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December 13, 2007 | The Cold Facts
Winter has officially registered its presence at JazzMando Heaquarters in the Midwestern US with a multi-state power-line destroying ice storm and the first weeklong subfreezing stretch. We hear of concerns of mandolin shippers and recipients, and wish to extend a message of comfort and assurance. Music retailers and luthiers have been dealing with harsh inclement shipping weather for years. What do you think a music store does for income during the months of December, January, and February?
If you are planning on shipping an instrument (or receiving) in a harsh winter climate, there are simple precautions you must take to assure a safe journey. Wood and strings are remarkably resilient to extremes of temperature, but not quickly. In other words, your mandolin can survive quite well in subzero, but it won't tolerate a rapid transition back to room temperature.
Generally, if your instrument is packed well enough to endure the harshness of a Yuletide UPS Brown Temporary, it's probably already got the cushion to make temperature changes slowly, but only if you allow enough time for that change. We recommend anything received in temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 C), allow 24 hours to acclimate before opening. This means you let the package padding do the slow conversion for you. Don't unseal the box, certainly, don't cut a slit in the box to feel how cold it is.
It's tough to not be cavalier about it, but if you do open the box, the finish and the wood acclimate at two different rates. That's where the infamous crackling or "checking" occurs. It's probably not so good on the joints either, but most of the irreparable damage will be the outside cosmetics. Do yourself a big favor and resist temptation to open a box prematurely.
Suggestions for packing:
Never pack too tightly. Small air pockets allow not only a balance between moderate temperature "breathing" and stability, but act as shock absorbers during the rigors and stress of transport. Packing peanuts, bubble wrap, or loose newspaper balls will work, but find the balance between settling or nesting the instrument without complete stasis where all the box jarring is transferred from the outside to the instrument itself. Also, we suggest placing instrument and case in a tall kitchen trashbag prior of packing, partly because of sealing the air, but more because you'll keep the outside of the case lint and static free. It's a royal pain brushing off newspaper shreds or broken Styrofoam off of a mildly electrostatic-charged case exterior; this simple preventive measure introduces a simple cure.
Posted by Ted at December 13, 2007 9:27 AM
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