Violin Care

And now we even have an instrument care video!

1. Never leave your instrument in the car or place it in the trunk: cold will crack the top; heat will melt the varnish and glue. Instruments prefer temperatures of about 70 degrees Fahrenheit with 50% humidity. Unused instruments should not be stored in attics, garages, or damp basements.
2. Use an instrument humidifier during the dry heating season. This will prevent seams from opening and tops from splitting. The humidifier is placed through the instrument’s f-hole. Check the humidifier at least once a week for moisture content.
3. Cello and bass tops can react dramatically to weather, swelling in the summer and contracting in the winter. Bridges become lower in the winter and higher in the summer, hence, most cellos need two bridges and basses need bridges with high adjusting wheels.
4. Stringed instruments need to be tuned every time one plays. Set the peg by pushing it in as you turn it. To keep it in tune, avoid bumping the instrument and exposing it to sharp changes in temperature. Even with fine tuners, you still need to use the pegs or they will lose their fit and go “out-of-round.”
5. Tune your instrument as follows (highest to lowest string): Violin Tuning is EADG, Viola Tuning is ADGC, Cello Tuning is ADGC. Use the A above middle C on the piano for violin tuning and viola tuning. Use the A below Middle C for cello.
6. Pegs will loosen in the winter and stick in the summer. Peg dope, a special lubricant, is applied to the pegs in the summer and wiped off with alcohol in the winter. Do not use soap or chalk as they will damage the peg box and enlarge the hole faster.
7. Always loosen the bow when done playing (lefty loosey, righty tighty) to avoid warping the bow and stretching the hair. Avoid over-tightening the bow: only three or four twists are needed. Bows should be re-haired at least once a year. If hair is missing, or the hair hangs below the stick when the screw is loosened – it is time for a re-hair. Many bows have been split when players think the screw is tight when it is the hair that is severely stretched.
8. Use a high grade of rosin. Only a few swipes of rosin are needed. Remove rosin dust from the instrument after playing, by gently wiping the strings and instrument top with a soft cloth. Rosin buildup will produce a scratchy, dull sound with odd false tones on the E string.
9. Constant tuning will cause bridges to lean. Leaning bridges will warp and eventually crack, possibly damaging the instrument’s soft top, and necessitating the carving of a new bridge. Teachers can check bridge position and instruct pupils in the straightening procedure.
10. Change strings at least once a year. Nylon core strings dry out even if not frequently played. More active players should change strings every six to eight months.
11. Have your instrument’s health checked at least once a year. Open seams and splits need to be repaired as they reduce sound, produce buzzes and may progress into more costly repairs.