Whether you have a new beginner instrument or a well-loved professional one, it is critical to care for your instrument in the correct way. Instruments perform at their best when they are regularly cared for through cleaning, servicing and general maintenance.
To ensure your instrument remains in optimal playing condition, we recommend following these guidelines:
- Keep your instrument protected from water and moisture.Water causes timber to swell, which can cause cracks. Keep your instrument away from windows, moisture and excess humidity.
- Keep your instrument protected from excessive amounts of heat.Sun and heat can severely affect your instrument, potentially causing cracks and damage to the varnish. Make sure you store it away from windows, heaters or fireplaces.
- Never leave your instrument in the car.
- Keep your instrument clean.Wiping off rosin with a dry cloth from the top of your instrument and strings after playing will prevent rosin build up. Don’t use water to clean.
- Never clean your instrument with solvents or household products.Varnish is very delicate and can be easily damaged. Specialised cleaning products are available to assist with cleaning your instrument if necessary.
- Keep your fingernails trimmed.This prevents damage to the strings and fingerboard of your instrument.
- Cover the instrument with a cloth in its case.This protects your instrument against scratches from the bow while closed.
- Only players with experience should use the pegs.If you are not confident using the pegs, your teacher should help you to tune your instrument using the pegs. The fine tuners can be used to control small pitch changes.
- New instruments and strings take up to two weeks to settle.During this time, the strings will continue to go out of tune. We recommend that you do not change your strings in the two weeks before an important performance or exam.
- Remove your shoulder rest when your instrument is in its case.Your shoulder rest must always be removed while the violin is in its case and not in use.
String instruments perform at their best when serviced regularly. We recommend getting your instrument serviced every six months. Services are conducted by our team of trained luthiers and entails checking the strings, bridge, pegs, bow, and a general clean of your instrument.
Your first service should be two weeks after the instrument has been set up, then every six months following. Strings should be changed once a year depending on how often you play. For violinists, your E and A string will need to be changed every 3-6 months, while your D and G string will need to be changed every 6-12 months.
To keep your bow in good playing condition, we recommend following these guidelines:
- Avoid touching the bow hair with your fingers. Even small amounts of grease, sweat or dirt from your fingers can affect playability and make it difficult to apply rosin
- Always loosen the bow while it is not being used.If it is not loosened after you have finished playing, the hair stretches out and will eventually not tighten to playing tension.
- Do not over tighten the bow.Tighten your bow until the hair is pulled away from the stick only approximately 8mm at the narrowest point for violins/violas and 10mm for cellos. For double basses, tighten your bow until the hair is pulled away approximately 15mm for French bows and 20mm for German bows. It is important that the bow remains curved. If the stick looks straight to the hair, it is too tight.
- Don’t rosin your bow every time you use it.You should only need to rosin your bow every 5-6 hours of playing time or every 1-2 weeks for beginners.
- To keep your bow performing at its best, we recommend rehairing your bow every 12 months.
Reprinted by permission of Sydney String Centre