Instrument Care

Care for your instrument

General Care

It is best to handle your instrument by the neck only. The natural oils from our skin attract dust and rosin to the varnish.

Always dust the instrument and fingerboard with a soft cloth after practicing to prevent rosin dust from building up. Rosin left on the instrument can become tacky and difficult to remove.

Never use alcohol or nail polish remover (acetone) near the instrument. It will dissolve the varnish.

Never put an instrument into a car trunk. On a hot day, the varnish can bubble. Also, every dealer knows of instruments being stolen from car trunks or being severely damaged by collisions while in car trunks.

Violins & Violas

Improper attachment of shoulder rests can damage the sides and backs of violins. To avoid this, be sure the rubber on the feet of the shoulder rest is intact, and always pull the feet over the back edge, rather than sliding them into position.

When putting your violin into the case, remember to remove the shoulder rest before closing the lid. Make it a habit to automatically fasten the latches of the case whenever you close the lid, even if you don’t intend to carry it away immediately. Many instruments have suffered severe damage from falling out of a case that someone forgot to close properly before picking it up.

Cellos

When removing a cello from a soft case, hold the zippers away from the body of the instrument when opening and closing them so they will not scratch the varnish. A cello bow is only safe in a soft case if the cello is also in the case, so the bow should be placed in the soft case last and should be taken out first. A bow left alone in an otherwise empty soft case is very susceptible to breakage.

Do not lean a cello up against a wall or corner. It is much safer lying on its side on the floor near a wall, but be careful not to place the instrument near baseboard heaters or heat vents.

Never leave the endpin out when the cello is lying on the floor. Others might trip over it. Do not leave a cello case standing up in a room. Passing people, shifting rugs, gusts of wind, etc. can knock the case over and damage the cello.

How do you care for the bow?

General Care
Cleaning
Frog Care

It is very important to keep the thumb leather near the frog of a bow in good condition

If it is worn through to the wood, have it replaced immediately. Many valuable bows have been severely damaged in this area by the thumbnail because the thumb leather was worn down and not replaced.

Worn on stick in thumb position

image

If the frog is loose or wiggles, the eyelet, which provides the female thread for the screw, may not be in the correct position, or the hole for the screw may have become too large. This should be checked by a professional.

The faceplate (tip) of the bow is not just an ornament; it protects the wood from damage. If the very tip of the faceplate breaks off, the exposed wood will wear, devaluing the bow. If a crack forms from the side of the mortise, the tip may not withstand the pressure of the plug. This should be attended to.

Wipe off the stick of the bow before storing it. Always store the bow in your case to avoid damage. Leaving a bow on the lip of a music stand is especially dangerous in orchestra situations.

image

Loose eyelet resulting in frog warbling on stick

Tip Care

Use the bow for playing only. Do not point or gesticulate with it while talking, and never applaud by tapping the bow against a music stand. (People do this, so we have to include it!)

Rosin the bow as needed for the desired consistency of sound. If a lot of white dust can be seen on the instrument after playing, you are probably using too much rosin. When putting rosin on a bow, cover the ferrule (the metal ring where the hair enters the frog) with your thumb so the rosin will not hit the metal, which can chip or break the rosin.

If a single hair breaks, use scissors to cut it from the bow.? Pulling the hair will loosen the knots that hold the hair in the tip and frog.

Avoid touching the hair. The natural oils on your skin will counteract the gripping effect of the rosin.

Make sure you do not over-tighten the bow hair. The distance between the stick and the hair in the middle of the bow should not be much wider than a pencil for violin and slightly wider for a cello, and there should still be plenty of camber (curve) in the stick. Always loosen the tension of the bow after each playing session, for the bow can lose some of its camber if you do not.

image

The beak is missing on the tip of the lower bow

Low Humidity

Constant usage over time and high humidity can lengthen the hair, sometimes so much that it cannot be fully tightened. Conversely, if you travel to a dry area with a freshly rehaired bow, the hair may become so short that it cannot be loosened (because bowhair shrinks in dry weather). This constant tension can affect the camber (curve) of your bow. Additionally, during a sudden dry spell, the resulting shrinkage can break the head off of a bow that has not been loosened after playing. If you notice that your bow has been affected by either humid or dry conditions, take the bow to a violin maker for correction.

image

A cracked tip should be repaired as soon as possible

If your bow has been stored in a closed case for a long period of time, you may notice that many of the bow hairs look as if they’ve been cut. This is due to the carpet beetle larva, which feeds on bow hair, tortoise shell, and whalebone.

If you know you won’t be using your bow for a period of time, don’t leave it in a closed case. Carpet beetle larvae thrive in dry, dark places. You may find it helpful to expose the inside of your case to sunlight for brief periods of time to discourage the larvae. For longer periods of storage, we recommend placing mothballs, cedar chips, or camphor in your case and storing your bow in a sealed plastic bag (available from most dealers).

image

Bite hair (left) and Adult carpet beetle (right)

Rehairing

At times, you may feel that your bow hair fails to grab the strings enough. Heat, humidity, and oils from our skin mix with the rosin and cause bowhair to become dirty and gummy. If the hair is still full and evenly distributed, you can prolong its use simply by getting it cleaned by a violin maker or other professional.

If too much hair is missing (usually on the playing side), the bow needs to be rehaired before the uneven pull of the hair warps the bow. Take the bow to a violin maker for rehairing.

After a bow has been freshly rehaired, you may notice that the bow seems to have lost some of its sound quality (more noise, sandy sound, rougher feel, etc.). There is no need to return the bow for different hair. Instead, play the bow a lot for a week or two. Chances are the problem will disappear, and this is why: hair without rosin makes almost no sound at all if the strings are also clean. It is the rosin that makes the hair grip the strings enough to create a sound. The hair has an uneven, scaled surface that holds the rosin in place and until the rosin is worked in, the bow can sound sandy, etc.

Of course the quality of bow hair does vary. For example, some hair can have weak areas across the length which cause it to break sooner, and wavy hair is not the same length as straight hair, which makes it difficult to tighten all the hair.

What do I do if there is an accident?

Instrument accidents
  • If your instrument cracks, do not touch the area! The natural oils on your fingers will contaminate the wood and lessen the bonding capacity of the glue, making it more difficult to make an invisible repair.
  • If your bridge breaks or falls, remove the strings and tailpiece from the instrument. This prevents the tailpiece from scratching the top. Bring the instrument to a violin maker for repair.
  • If you notice a large new crack in the instrument, remove the strings, bridge, and tailpiece and bring the instrument to a violin maker. If the crack is in the pegbox, don’t push the pegs further in or the pegbox might break on the opposite side.
  • If the fingerboard comes loose, remove the strings, bridge, and tailpiece and bring the instrument to a violin maker. The neck alone is not strong enough to withstand the string tension and will warp.
  • If a corner breaks off, put the broken piece into a film canister or similarly sturdy box for safekeeping and take the piece and the instrument to a violin maker. The repair will be easy and inexpensive. However, if you wait too long to have the repair done, the sharp edges of the break may wear down making it impossible to achieve a perfect fit with the broken piece. Your violin maker will have to create a new piece, which will be considerably more expensive and will not be the original wood.
  • Never attempt any repair work on an instrument or a bow yourself. Leave your fragile and valuable instrument in the hands of a trained professional.
Bow Accidents

One of the more frustrating accidents for players is when a bow suddenly breaks while they are playing as they usually do. When this happens, the only logical conclusion seems to be that something was inherently wrong with the bow when it was purchased. The violin dealer, however, may suggest that a drop, blow, etc. a day or so earlier (or even a few weeks if left unplayed after the accident) caused a small crack to form, which eventually widened over time and finally gave way.

Of course, by this time it may be difficult for the player to recall such an incident, making the violin dealer’s suggestion seem implausible. To avoid the awkward situation of thinking the bow you purchased only a few weeks ago may have already had a small starting crack, be sure to examine a bow very carefully for hairline cracks around the tip before you pay for it.?

Violin Case Accidents

hen opening the case move the slider all the way to the end of the zipper or it will break.

image
image
image
image