Some guitar players do travel a lot. Especially if they play live gigs regularly. If you’re one of them, you may have asked yourself the question from the headline.
Can you leave a guitar amp in a hot car? It’s not a good idea to do that. Leaving anything in a hot car, where temperature can get so high, is not advisable. While electronic parts probably won’t be affected by heat (since an amp is operating at high temperatures), heat can soften the glue around the cone, tolex, knobs and so on.
How Can Temperature Affect A Guitar Amp?
As it’s been said, a guitar amp is designed to operate at high temperature. Heat shouldn’t be a problem for most of electronic parts in your amp. However, temperature change is something significantly more dangerous than temperature itself.
How? When a temperature goes up, nearly every material widens. On the other hand, when a temperature goes down, nearly every material shrinks.
According to researchers form Arizona State University, car interior of a car parked in a sun on a summer day can hit a temperature of 160 degrees. In just one hour. Click here to find out more about it. (Arizona State University website.)
Now, imagine putting your guitar amp in a hot car with that temperature change. Outside temperature (on a hot summer day) is at least two times lower than the temperature in a car.
That’s a big temperature change! And now think about this. A guitar amp is made out of different materials. Those different materials expand at different rates. Some materials expand more than others given the same temperature change.
Every material has its own heat capacity. In other words, for every material, different amount of energy is required to raise its temperature by one degree.
What does that mean? Tolex wrap will likely expand faster than some plastic part inside. Also the glue, once it hits some high temperature, will soften. Some parts won’t get affected, like inside electronics, but that’s the point. Different parts will act differently, so the stability of your guitar amp will get worse.
Sunlight is a second factor, apart from temperature change, that can affect your guitar amp in a bad way. How?
UV rays. Various materials can degrade when exposed to the UV radiation. Here’s the quote from the scientific study published on National Center For Biotechnology Information:
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation may cause the significant degradation of many materials. UV radiation causes photooxidative degradation which results in breaking of the polymer chains, produces free radical and reduces the molecular weight, causing deterioration of mechanical properties and leading to useless materials, after an unpredictable time.
For more information, check the whole study on their website, here.
Not only that the material will degrade when exposed, but it can also change its color. You’ve probably seen yellowish (discolored) materials before.
Is It Bad To Leave A Guitar Amp In Cold?
It’s not a good idea to leave your guitar amp in a cold car, either. Follow this rule: If it’s not good for me (as a human), then it’s not good for my guitar and my guitar amp, either.
Cold outside temperature can often cause high humidity in a car interior. Relative humidity needs to be maintained at a regular (normal) level. For your guitar, and your guitar amp, as well.
What does high humidity do to your guitar amp? It can screw electronic parts in it. Electronics tend to get dysfunctional when they absorb a lot of humidity.
Many reports from guitar players said the same. Their amp stopped working. Or at least the sound got different. It got worse.
If you want to know more about the effect humidity has on power electronic performance, check out this study, published on Northeastern University of Boston, here.
Additional Tips (For Those Who Don’t Have A Choice)
Yes, it’s bad to leave your guitar amp in a car. But what if you don’t have any choice than to do it? Here are a few tips that can help.
1. Avoid Sun Exposure
So, let’s say you plan to leave your guitar amp in a car. Let’s say it’s a hot summer day.
Do not park your car in a sun! Try, if possible, to find a parking place in a shade. Temperatures (in a car) don’t get that high when the car is parked in a shade.
Unfortunately, often you don’t have a choice than to park your car where it’s exposed to sun. If that’s the case, you may consider using a car sunscreen.
Covercraft Metallic Sunscreen is a good one. Its foam core center of the shield acts as an insulator. That way it blocks the UV radiation, and reduce the interior temperature.
Anyway, if you’re interested, check out the product’s page on the Amazon and customer reviews, as well, here.
2. Lower Windows
If an outside temperature is too high, lower windows of your car a bit. You’ll be surprised how it affects a temperature inside a car.
You don’t have to worry about lowering your windows. Lower them no more than a half on an inch. That’s at the same time too small (regarding security issues), and just enough to keep an air flow.
Air flow is extremely important for temperature maintenance. Also, when you come back in your car, it won’t be so hot.
3. Put Your Amp In Case
A hard case is the best place for your guitar amp. Hard cases are immune to temperature and humidity changes. Therefore, if you plan to leave your guitar amp alone anywhere, for some period of time, put it in a hard case.
Gator cases are one of the best cases out there. Yes, they can get expensive, but nothing is more expensive than a broken amp. Investing in a good hard case is always a good investment.
If you have a mini guitar amp, I’d recommend checking this one. It have an interior foam, which reduce the chance of physical damage.
As you can see, leaving a guitar amp in a hot car is not advisable. It can lead to many problems. Temperature changes and high humidity are your guitar amp’s greatest enemies.
If you don’t believe it, read those scientific papers that have been mentioned in this article.
Make sure you don’t leave your guitar amp in a car for too long period of time. Still, if you don’t have any other choice, in this article are 3 crucial tips that can help.
Comply to them, and you’ll reduce the risk of having your guitar amp damaged.
If you want to know if it’s advisable to leave a guitar in a car, check the article from this page about it, here.
Anyway, if this article gave you some valuable information and insight about this issue, I’m more than happy about it.
Great & Affordable Guitar Amps in 2021
In case you’re interested, check out the article where I picked and reviewed 8 great and affordable guitar amps.
Don’t forget to check out some other interesting articles from this site!
Cheers, and rock on!