Weather is unpredictable. We can never be 100 % sure if tomorrow is going to rain or not. If you play live gigs occasionally, the question from the headline may have popped in your head.
Can you play an electric guitar in the rain?
You can, but it is not advisable to do so. It is dangerous because water and electronics mix well with each other. If you get wet while playing your electric guitar, you may become a part of the electricity’s path to the ground. In that case, you’ll be electrocuted.
Why You Shouldn’t Play Your Electric Guitar In The Rain?
How Does Water Conduct Electricity?
Let’s explain it more thoroughly. Water is a great conductor of electricity. What does that mean? Conductivity of some electrolyte solution is a measure of its ability to conduct electricity.
Electrical conductivity measures a water’s capacity to conduct electrical current. Conductivity is directly proportional to the concentration of dissolved salts in the water.
Ions of dissolved solids are responsible for water’s ability to conduct an electric current.
There are positively and negatively charged ions. With their presence, an electric current can flow.
Distilled water does not conduct electricity since it does not contain any dissolved solids in itself.
Can Rain Also Conduct Electrical Current?
Rain water is certainly not free of dissolved solids in itself. There’s a study that’s been published back in the 1967, Electric conductivity of rain water in the cloud over the island of Hawaii.
From this, you can see how rain’s electric conductivity varies with changing height, size of the raindrop etc. Nevertheless, you can see from the various graphs that the rain is in fact a great conductor of electricity.
So, the bottom line is this. Rain water is just as good conductor of electrical current as it’s the regular drinking water.
Reasons Why It’s NOT The Good Idea To Play In The Rain
There are two main reasons why you shouldn’t play an electric guitar in the rain. First has been described above.
Water is a great conductor of electrical current. When you play in the rain, you get wet (you don’t say).
When you get wet, there’s a good chance of you becoming a part of the electric circuit. As long as you’re not a part of the electric circuit, there’s no danger of getting electrocuted.
When your skin gets wet, there’s a highly probable chance the electrical current will find its way to the ground through your body. Obviously, that’s very dangerous.
Second reason why it’s not advisable to play guitar in the rain is because it’s bad for the guitar itself.
Moisture can become your guitar’s greatest enemy if it’s not monitored regularly. Low relative humidity is bad, but high relative humidity can be even more dangerous.
First of all, water is going to screw your guitar’s finish. A wood absorbs moisture very well. If there’s a moisture, you can bet your guitar neck is going to absorb it in itself.
Check the article from this page about whether you should humidify an electric guitar or not, here.
Obviously, that’s bad for a guitar body. There’s a high chance that your guitar won’t sound nearly as good as it sounded before it got wet.
A lot of guitar players report their experiences. Nearly all of them are saying the same thing. After their guitar got wet, the sound got significantly worse.
Anyway, if your guitar got wet, you shouldn’t plug it in until you’re sure it has completely dried.
The same goes for a guitar amp.
But that’s not all! Your guitar strings will almost certainly corrode and rust after you’ve done playing your guitar in the rain. Nobody likes to setup strings on their guitar.
Check the article from this page about dealing with the corrosion on your guitar strings, here.
But, There Are Bands That Played In The Rain…
Some people are still confused over this. They say it’s obviously not dangerous to play in the rain, since there are may cases in which various rock bands played outside while it rained.
Also, there are a ton of music videos showing guitar players playing in the rain, soaking wet.
First of all, music videos are music videos. They do not play the guitar for real. Usually, a guitar is sacrificed in those situations. It’s not plugged in. Also, in most cases, big companies pay the band those guitars.
Second, bands that played in the rain had a tent, or some kind of a roof above themselves. Also, there are many safety conditions that have to be met before the show even starts.
For example, guitar amps must be waterproofed. Whole stage is often covered with rubber in order to stop electric current going to the ground.
Also, in many cases, guitar players play without a cord. Wireless systems are safer. That’s why Prince played at the Super Bowl while it rained heavily.
Taking all of things into account, we can say that playing an electric guitar in the rain is definitely a bad idea. I hope this article gave you some valuable information about why that’s the case.
Don’t forget to check out some other interesting articles I wrote on this site!
Cheers, and rock on!