Taking care of your instrument will insure its long life and may prevent costly repairs. Though some adjustments and repairs should be left to a pro, here are a few tips to help keep it in top condition.
1. Store in the case with the lid closed for protection: Always keep your instrument and bow in its case or bag when it’s not in use. Make sure the bow hair has been loosened before putting the bow in the proper protective compartment.
2. Keep it clean: Using a soft cleaning cloth, wipe the rosin dust off the belly (get under the fingerboard and tailpiece), fingerboard, strings, and bow. Occasionally, polish the wood with violin polish to restore the varnish’s luster. Your instrument will stay cleaner if you wash your hands before each practice and only handle the neck. CLICK HERE for cleaning cloths. DO NOT USE ALCOHOL TO CLEAN. Alcohol is a solvent and can damage the varnish.
3. Bow: Don’t over-tighten it. Loosen the bow when not in use. Keep instrument polish and fingers away from the bow hair. Wipe the rosin off the stick with a clean cloth. A fresh hank of bow hair can be expected to last for just 120 playing hours. This means your bow should be re-haired once every 6-12 months if you play 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
4. Humidity and temperature: Avoid quick changes of temperature and NEVER put your instrument near a heater, air conditioner, open window, in direct sunlight, or leave in a boiling hot or freezing cold car. Dehumidify in the summer and humidify in the winter. (40% - 60% range is ideal.) CLICK HERE for a humidifier.
5. Strings: Replace at least every 6 months. Salts, acids, and dirt from your fingers and rosin from the bow collect in the winding, which will deteriorate the tone and response. Replace if the winding unwraps or becomes frayed.
6. Bridge: The friction of the strings moving over the bridge may cause it to lean forward or backward. The back of the bridge (the side facing the tailpiece) should be positioned at a 90° angle to the belly or there is danger of it warping. Graphite (or pencil lead) applied to the notches (under the strings) with keep the strings moving smoothly.
7. Pegs: Pegs slip in the winter and stick in the summer. Peg compound or “dope” will make them turn easily, while chalk makes them hold. CLICK HERE for peg compound.
8. Polish: Polish should be used sparingly, perhaps every 6 months. Use a high-quality violin polish to keep the wood from drying out and the varnish shiny. CLICK HERE for polish and cleaner.
9. Check-up: Have a luthier (violin repair professional) inspect the instrument for open-seams, warped bridge, sticky pegs, etc. to keep the instrument in perfect condition. CLICK HERE to connect with Adam Day conveniently located at Day Murray Music to schedule your check-up.
10. Extended storage: If you go on vacation or plan to take time off from playing release the tension off the bridge by loosening the strings a quarter to a half-step.
For any further questions on the suggested materials or care of your instrument above, contact your private instructor. CLICK HERE to connect with Josie Long Violin Studio.