The finest violins can be passed down for generations. We’re not simply talking about instruments made by Guarneri, Stradivari, or Amati. Thus, if you take the utmost care of your violin, it might last for a lifetime.
To keep a violin in optimal performing form, it takes constant care and attention. Cleaning and maintaining your violin is an essential part of keeping it in peak condition and avoiding costly repairs in the future.
We’ve put together this fundamental violin maintenance guide to help you in taking good care of your priceless instrument. Let’s get started!
Storage and Transport
Organic materials, such as the wood in your violin, are affected by the environment. This makes your instrument vulnerable to changes in the atmosphere and the surrounding environment. It inflates and contracts depending on the level of moisture it can absorb in response to extreme humidity and temperature changes.
Your violin’s tone and structure are affected by the amount of water in its wood elements. A dry environment might lead to seam separations and cracks in your instrument that produce whistling or buzzing sounds. Follow the guidelines below to avoid such issues.
- To keep your violin and bow safely when not in use, keep them in a sturdy case. You may protect yourself from costly repairs by making sure everything is safe and secure.
- Violins should not be stored in extremely hot or extremely cold environments. You should nurture your instrument as if it were a human being or even a puppy. If you don’t want to be trapped in a hot car for hours or left outdoors overnight in extreme cold, neither does your violin.
- Before putting your violin in its case, detach the shoulder rest or pad and ensure that all latches, zippers, or other closures are securely attached.
- It’s wise to have a room humidifier or an essential moisture regulator on hand if you live somewhere that becomes very dry during the winter, or the summers are short and hot.
- Before resting your bow, loosen the bow hair. Your bow’s fragile camber can be damaged if you put too much strain on it.
- While traveling, as soon as the case is in the luggage rack, don’t put anything heavier on top of it. To prevent others from putting things on top of your instrument, you can simply place your own coat or sweatshirt over the case. Your carry-on bag should be placed sideways in front of your case, which should be placed upright against the back wall of the luggage compartment.
Keeping your violin clean and healthy is essential for great sound and longevity. With a bit of planning and regular maintenance, you can extend the life of your violin and secure your investment. Here are our 5 key violin cleaning steps.
Step 1: Wiping
It’s a good idea to get into the discipline of wiping off your violin, especially the strings, after every playing session. The varnish on your violin or strings might be affected by the buildup of rosin and sweat. It will reduce the projection and longevity of strings.
A fresh, dry microfiber cloth can be used to gently remove any sweat or rosin dust from the strings, fingerboard, back and sides, the body of your instrument. Keep in mind the chin rest. Applying too much force on the instrument’s strings and body is counterproductive.
F-holes and bridges need special attention while cleaning your instrument. Care must be taken when using a cleaning cloth on the F-holes and bridge, as the woodwork is quite sensitive.
Pure alcohol or a specific string cleaner can be used to remove sweat or rosin from the strings. Gently wipe the strings with a paper towel after applying a few drops. Keep an eye out for any other parts of the violin that may be exposed to alcohol.
Step 2: Wiping the Bow
The rosin on your bow can pile up, affecting its sound and durability. Wash and dry microfiber cloth and lay it between the bow stick and bow hair to wipe the rosin from the stick using gentle pressure. Keep doing this at the end of each practice session.
Step 3: Clean the Case
Once a week, or whenever you detect dust, grime, and rosin, unload and vacuum your case. Keep an eye on the form of your case as well as your instrument. In addition to preventing dust mites, this step is a smart option. Examine the cleanliness of your case every two weeks to keep those bothersome mites at bay.
Step 4: Deep Clean and Polish
The best way to upkeep your instrument and its varnish is to use specific cleaning solutions for string instruments when there is a lot of rosin and grime on it. The delicate varnish formulations used on violins have led to developing these specialized cleaning solutions for string instruments.
You should never use hardware shop furniture or wood polish on your varnish; this could permanently harm it, and that is something we absolutely do not want.
A varnish cleaner may not be necessary if you clean your instrument thoroughly after each practice session to remove dust and rosin. Use a specific polish instead to give your instrument a new lease on life.
During a thorough clean, you may also replace and clean your pegs. To remove any old peg chalk or paste buildup from the pegs, we suggest using a soft, super fine steel wool. Peg paste can then be applied in a thin layer on top of this. A tiny quantity of paste is all that is needed for the peg to stick.
Step 5: Regular Check-ups
Every 8-12 months, your instrument needs a general checkup to guarantee it is in optimum playing condition. It’s a good idea to bring your violin to the workshop for a tune-up and even to have new strings put on. If you don’t have the expertise, time, or confidence to do all of this yourself, the luthier can do it for you. They can apply peg compound, lubricate the nut with graphite, clean the strings under the bridge, and more.
Avoid These Common Mistakes
Our violins aren’t just mistreated just because we don’t take the time to clean them. Here are some common errors individuals make when it comes to violin upkeep.
- Not checking bridges is a common mistake, especially if you have to tune often due to new strings or weather. Prior to adjusting a string instrument, it is imperative to check the bridge position.
- Many musicians overestimate the worth of a case. If someone trips and falls on your violin case, they may break it, along with the violin inside it. When the case is exposed to excessively hot or cold conditions, your violin will be vulnerable to damage.
- To be safe, we ask that you refrain from touching the instrument’s body in any way. Because of the moisture and oils in our hands, the varnish will eventually begin to deteriorate. Violins should be held at the neck.
- The varnish will wear down over time if you use the wrong cleaning agents. Violins should never be cleaned with harsh chemicals or hot water. The lacquer will be ruined if these substances are used.
- Small flaws might quickly turn into big, unfixable ones without regular checkups by a luthier.
The responsibilities of a violinist extend much beyond the time spent in the practice room, in rehearsals, and on stage. Keeping the violin clean and well-maintained is equally important. If you still have questions about taking care of your violin, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Additionally, you can speak with your violin shop about any additional issues you may be having with your instrument.