Violin Care Do’s, Don’ts, Problems & Maintenance
VIOLIN CARE DOs:
- Do get new strings at least once per year. Use good strings – they will make even a cheap violin sound better. Thomastik Dominant strings are considered to be the standard. Professional violinists may change strings a couple of times a month.
- Do Humidify your violin, especially if you live in a dry climate. Ideal humidity is 40%-50%. Humidity will make your violin sound better and help prevent cracking. More on this later. A case humidifier is better than one that fits inside the instrument. Dampit’s fit inside the F hole. If you aren’t careful, excess moisture can ruin your violin label. Pulling the dampit out too quickly may break or damage the F hole.
- Check the bridge to be sure it is perpendicular to the top, the feet are sitting flat on the violin, and there is no warping. Normal tuning of the violin will tend to pull the bridge forward so it leans and may eventually warp or even fall over. A leaning bridge will reduce the volume and quality of the sound.
- Check for open seams between the violin top and sides and between the violin bottom and sides. Seams are designed to open to relieve stress due to shrinkage and changes in temperature or humidity. Do not reglue the seams yourself. Have a luthier do this with special hide glue.
- Be sure your bow can’t fall out of the holder and bounce on the top of your violin. Cover the violin with a cloth before closing the case.
- Do rosin your bow to improve the sound.
- Wipe down your violin after each use to prevent the build up of rosen and dirt.
Also wide down the stick of the bow (not the hair) to remove grit and rosen.
VIOLIN CARE DON’TS:
- Don’t hang your violin on the wall. Unless you regulate the humidity in your house, hanging a violin on the wall is a poor choice. When not in use, always return your violin to the case and close it.
- Don’t leave your violin in a car, especially when it’s very hot or very cold. Hide glue becomes soft at 130 degrees Fahrenheit and becomes a liquid at 140 degrees. Your violin can come apart in a hot car. Cold contracts the wood and can break the glue or even split the wood as the violin shrinks.
- Don’t travel with your violin in the trunk. A rear end collision can destroy your violin.
- Don’t use violin cleaners, solvents or alcohol – some cleaners have been known to remove varnish and color. Some cleaners seem to penetrate the varnish changing the sound of the violin (not for the better).
- Don’t do your own repair work. Violin repair requires special tools, glues and knowledge. We have seen many violins ruined by parents that thought they could just use some super glue or wood glue to fix a problem.
- Don’t use your bow to applaud by banging on the music stand – you will damage it.
- Don’t leave the bow tight when not in use – always loosen the tension so the bow will retain it’s spring.
- Don’t touch the bow hair with your fingers.
- Don’t over-tighten strings or tune by tightening the strings first. Always loosen the tuner a little first before tightening.
Why do violin seams open?
If the violin buzzes, it may be caused by an open seam. Violins are assembled with hide glue. Changes in humidity or temperature will cause the wood of a violin to either expand or contract. Increasing heat or humidity will expand the wood. Decreasing the temperature or the humidity will cause the wood to shrink. These changes can have three different affects:
- The pegs can shrink and become loose and not hold tune.
- The top or back can separate from the sides in some areas. The glue is designed to fail and allow the seams to open. It is a simple repair for a professional to reglue the seams.
- If the glue is too strong, the top or bottom of the violin can split to relieve the pressure. This is an expensive repair. This is why it is important to keep the humidity and temperature as constant as possible.
Violin Split caused by lack of humidity
We hope this helps your violin care!