Tips & Tricks

Do you want this

or this?

A stringed instrument is like a fine piece of furniture, if it is neglected or handled roughly, it will start to look bad, and worse, it will probably start to sound bad. However, your instrument will give you many years of faithful service if you show it some TLC along the way.

Here are a few tips to show your instrument that you care.

Storage

>Avoid direct sunlight, excessive heat, cold, dryness and humidity. Keep your instrument indoors (never leave it in a car on a hot day). To avoid cracks resulting from dry weather, keep a wet paper towel in a punctured plastic bag in the instrument case to act as a humidifier, or you can use a dampit, which we sell.

>Always use a case when storing and transporting your instrument.

>Violins and violas should be closed securely in their cases. Never leave your violin or viola in its case with the lid closed but the zipper/latches open; it’s too easy to forget and have the instrument fall out. 

>Cellos and basses should be placed on a stand or on their sides on the floor and NEVER leaning against the wall.

>Don’t leave your violin or viola unattended on a chair. 

>Push the endpin for a cello or bass as far into the instrument as possible when you’re done playing, to minimize the likelihood of kicking or tripping over it.

>After playing wipe off the strings and the bow stick with a soft, dry cloth. Otherwise rosin and finger oils will build up and degrade the resonance of the strings and the wood and will leave a harmful residue. 

Handling

>Pick up and hold violins and violas by the neck rather than by the fragile scroll, and avoid touching varnished surfaces with fingers.

>Pick up cellos and basses by the C-bout corner, NEVER by the f-holes or the end of the fingerboard!!!

>When picking up a bass do not drag it to the upright position. Rather hold the bass by the neck and roll it on its bottom bouts to the upright.

>With violins and violas remove your mute and shoulder rest before returning the instrument to its case

>Do not over tighten your bow. Allow the stick to retain its curve. You want the bow to be just tight enough so that when you play forte the hair does not touch the stick.  

>Loosen your bow’s tension slightly after playing. Otherwise, it can warp or break over time.

>Do not apply too much rosin. If you start using more rosin than usual it is probably time to have your bow rehaired. 

Maintenance & Care

>Strings should be changed every six months for daily players, or yearly for occasional players. New strings may need a day up to a week of playing time to break in.

>When changing strings, do so one at a time. The bridge is not glued onto your instrument but rather held in place by tension. Loosening all the strings at once will cause the bridge to fall and possibly cause the sound post to fall inside the instrument’s body. The placement of the bridge and sound post are very important, so be sure to have us or someone with the proper training adjust these items for you.

>If you notice a crack or an open seam, don’t try to glue it yourself. To minimize damage allow us to repair your instrument as soon as possible. Likewise, if you hear a buzz when you play or if you notice anything else out of sorts, please bring it into our shop.

>Avoid touching the bow hair with your fingers.

>Keep an eye on your bridge and do not let it warp up towards the nut of the instrument. If it starts to warp bring it in and we can straighten it out.

>Check your bridge position on a regular basis. Look over the scroll and down the fingerboard. The bridge should appear to straddle the fingerboard equally on both sides. Then look at the bridge feet. They should be centered on the notch in the f hole nearest the foot. If this needs adjustment bring it in.

>Don’t yank a broken hair out of your bow. This can loosen some or all the hairs or cause them to fall out. Trim loose hairs with scissors or nail clippers.

>New rosin needs to be “started”, particularly for violins violas and cellos, before being applied to your bow. You can do this by scratching the surface of the new rosin with a key, sandpaper, or the like. Bass rosin just needs a few long swipes.

>If you want to polish your instrument, use an appropriate instrument polish and follow the instructions carefully. 

>Never use furniture polish or alcohol to polish any stringed instrument. Furniture polish will clog the pores of the wood and degrade your tone. Alcohol will strip off the varnish. Please do not attempt to fix damaged varnish yourself

Above All Have fun!

Remember: playing a little every day is better than playing a lot just before a lesson or performance.