How to Maintain Your Violin

A brief article on how to keep your violin in good condition.

Common sense and taking some basic precautions can help keep your violin and bow in good condition for years to come.  Regardless of how expensive or inexpensive your instrument is, there are some basic things you can do to keep it looking and sounding nice.

After playing your instrument wipe off the rosin dust with a soft cloth.  You can also use a chemically-treated cloth available at violin shops and online stores.  Remove the rosin from the strings, fingerboard the part of the violin between the fingerboard and the bridge.  You may have to be rather firm when it comes to removing the rosin from the strings as it may tend to stick.  Also use the cloth to remove rosin dust from the stick of the bow.  This will improve its appearance and prevent the bow from getting sticky.

Change strings on a regular basis.  This is dependent on how often you play the instrument.  If you are a regular player, but not a professional, then you may want to change strings every 6 months to a year.  You may want to change the strings more often if you are a professional or if the string quality demands it.  You will know that it is time to change the string when it no longer holds its tone very well.  This means that when you try to tune the string before playing it does not stay in tune for long. 

Since the instrument and bow is rather fragile, so pick it up and handle it carefully when you play. When not being played place the instrument in a cushioned case. Store the case in a room that does not change temperature very often or quickly. Remember to never leave the violin exposed to extreme temperatures like cold or very hot weather as this may cause cracking.  This means that it should never be left in the car on a really hot or cold day for long periods of time.  Do not hit the instrument or bow on any hard surface, since this can cause cracking as well or knock the violin out of tune, or cause the bridge to fall.

Look at the bridge every so often to make certain that it is standing up straight at a 90 degree angle.  It should not be leaning over as this may be an indication that it is either a pooly made bridge or that you may need to adjust the bridge.  If you don't feel comfortable doing this, then ask your violin instructor or an employee of the violin shop where you got the instrument to adjust it for you.

Do not touch the bow hairs or the strings where you play.  The oils on your hands will affect the hairs and string, making it harder for rosin to positively affect the sound.  Always loosed the bow after playing.  If you always keep the bow tightened then the bow may become warped, thus not holding its proper shape.  

 If you have used the same bow for a long period of time, there may be many hairs which are missing. Hairs may on occassion break, but if a large amount have broken, then you may want to consider getting your bow rehaired. Go to the shop where you got the bow, to get it rehaired.  If you cannot take it there, then visit a reputable violin shop.  You may want to call the local music school or shop to see what places they recommend.

In the event that a peg gets stuck, making it hard to tune, then you may want to use soap to make them move more easily.  Simply remove the peg from the scroll and rub a little bar of soap on it.  You can also use peg lubricant which is especially made for it.  If the pegs are slipping then remove the pegs from the scroll and rub the peg with chalk.  If you prefer use a special product made for this situation such as Peg drops sold by Shar.

There may be other precautions with you can take.  Some viollinsts have a humidifer in their case to make certain that the instrument stays at the right temperature for optimal condition. Often professional violinsts may do this. For hobbyists, simply following general instructions like ones above, along with any instructions you get from the maker may often be enough to keep the violin in good playing condition.

References:

http://www.amromusic.com/takingcareofyourviolin

http://www.westcountryviolins.com/web_pages/violin.htm

http://www.sharmusic.com/Shop-Shar/Accessories/Care/Peg-Compound-Drops/Hill-Peg-Compound.axd

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