12 Violin Maintenance Tips And Methods To Save You Money And Headaches

Now that you have bought yourself a beautiful violin that costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars, you will definitely want to keep your new treasure protected and well kept for years to come. There is no worse feeling than buying an expensive new violin and having it collapse within a few months because of poor violin maintenance. Follow these tips and you will be playing your beautiful violin for years to come.

1.) Humidity Level

One of the most important but often overlooked issues that plague beginners and intermediate violinists for violin maintenance. Most likely the sounds changing from a violin is not the quality of the violin but, the change of moisture and weight of the violin.

With high levels of humidity, swelling of the top arch will cause it to rise up. In addition the body will expand and increase the curvature of the strings due to a heightened fingerboard. Other shifts created are the bridge and the soundpost. It is recommended that you have a summer bridge and a winter bridge if you live in polarizing climates to match the proper season.

The variety of different violin makes and woods will have a mix of densities and moisture levels. However, the optimal levels of humidity generally resides around 40 to 60 percent. If you can maintain this level on a consistent basis, shrinkage and expansion will not be something to worry about.

2.) Clean Hands

If possible, you should have your hands clean before playing to avoid getting any dirt trapped in your violin or on your violin bow. In addition, your hands have sweat and natural oils that can build up. Touching the strings or bow hairs can happen accidentally, the oils on your hands can cause your bow to slide off when playing after multiple touches. Overtime this can cause a faster restringing or rehairing and ultimately shrinking your wallet/purse.

3.) Cleaning Your Violin

The inside of the violin can trap dust or small debris/particles, using a soft sponge you can clear out any bits and dust by placing it inside the violin and lightly shaking it.

For cleaning the body of the violin, a soft clean cloth can be used to wipe off any dirt that you might have, microfiber cloths work just as well and also avoids damaging the violin with scratch marks.

Cleaning the strings after playing should be a priority, again use a soft cloth and wipe the rosin gently off the strings in an up and down motion. If a large build up occurs, use a high percent alcohol (anything 70% or higher) to get rid of it. Only a few drops of the alcohol is needed for cleaning, apply it to the surface of the cloth that will be coming into contact with the strings. However, you will want to be careful as the alcohol can drip onto the varnish and cause discoloration.

If you don’t have alcohol or a specific cloth for cleaning your violin check out this package. It also includes a glossy oil to add extra shine to your violin.

  • Get rid of large clumps of rosin in seconds with the cleansing oil.
  • Apply the glossy oil for a nice and shiny coat on your violin.
  • Helps to protect the varnish while keeping it beautifully lasting for a long time.

4.) Temperature

Like humidity, the effects of expansion and shrinkage can cause the sound to change. So can temperature!

Extreme heat or cold can cause the violin to crack and can make your violin unplayable or at minimum creating buzzing or squeaking noises when playing. Room temperature would be ideal to keep it at a constant and help maintain durability for long time usage.

The ideal temperature can be somewhere from 55°F(12°C) – 70°F(21°C). Another important part to avoid is exposing your violin to extreme temperature swings. For example, putting your violin in a blazing hot summer car and then suddenly transferring it to a super cold air conditioned room. If done enough times, the process of cracking is accelerated and you will have to repair your violin sooner rather than later.

5.) Keep Your Violin Safe

This avoids dropping, knocking it over, accidentally damaging it from debris or people.

In Addition, humidity can affect the violin more so outside of the case. Unless you can measure the exact humidity, then it is best to have it stored. The padding in your case will create a safer and more controlled environment allowing your violin to be properly maintained.

6.) Smell Or Wetness

If there’s a certain type of smell or wetness coming from your violin case, then it could be an indication that there is mold or something rotting. The smell can usually be describe as something sour and pungent. Another smell could be something like having a wet laundry that hasn’t been dried out properly.

If you want to preserve the case, cleaning the inside with soap and water then air drying is a suitable option. Scrub hard to make sure that the mold has truly be cleaned off, as there is a possibility that the roots are still living inside your case.

To keep your case at a consistent level of moisture use a hygrometer.

7.) Bow Bugs

If you want to save yourself some money then you should clean your case and inspect your bow regularly for any little beetles. These little beetles like to munch on your bow hairs and live in dark areas, your violin case being a prime breeding place.

What else can you do?

If you see this happening, exposure to sunlight will get rid of these pesky guys, so leaving it out in the sun for a bit will work. Make sure not to leave it out too long especially on a hot day.

For better results and prevention, you can use a repellent such as Sawyer’s Permethrin. This will ensure that other bugs that like dark spaces won’t inhabit inside your violin case.

  • Easy to use, just spray the inside of the case.
  • Keeps dark dwelling bugs from breeding and inhabiting the space.
  • No damage is applied to the inside of the case.

8.) Replacing Your Strings

After a certain amount of playing, the sound of your violin will change and it may start to be more dull or weak.

Now it really depends on how much time you spend playing the violin, if you are a casual player who is performing an hour a day, you should change your strings within 6 to 10 months. 2 hours or more should be changed within 3 to 6 months.

Again you should notice the difference over time as the sound has less depth, which could be an indication for you to change your strings.

If you want to manually change your violin strings you can check out this video by SHAR music. The method is quick and simple and adjusting the strings should be done in no time.

9.) Traveling With Your Violin

The weather condition and environment that you travel in can severely affect your violin in some cases creating damage unbeknownst to you. Here are few tips just to keep in mind when traveling on the road, airplane or on a cruise.

  • When on the road don’t leave your violin in the trunk, it is easy to heat up especially during a hot summer’s day. Keep it in the passenger seat or in the back where there is air conditioning or cool air circulating. Same can be said for a cold winter’s day.
  • During flight, the humidity level is low causing a high amount of dryness in the air. A humidifier is a useful investment and should be on in the case.
  • During sea travels, the opposite will occur as being surrounded by bodies of water. A dehumidifier will help keep the moisture levels normal for your violin.

10) Having A Straight Bridge

An unlikely scenario but still possible, the bridge might misaligned on an angle causing your sound to be off and distorted. Usually this only happens in prolonged extreme humidity or just wear and tear of the violin.

If you see this then it’s time to get a new bridge as there is no other way around fixing the bridge. A bridge is quite cheap, it can cost up to $10, however when you are purchasing one, make sure to buy the correct size for your violin. Now installing the bridge properly requires a lot of knowledge to ensure that the sound is correct. The best way to go about this is to have a professional Luthier do it.

11.) The Soundpost

The soundpost should be straight up, if you need to check it, you can look through the F hole of your violin. There should only be a small space behind the bridge. If your soundpost has fallen over, this will definitely change the sound of your violin and must be realigned. If this is the case, loosen your strings and have a luthier position it back.

12.) Rehair Your Bow

After playing for months and months, you may notice the hairs on your bow have come off. This is quite common and especially more common for violin performers. Most violinist will suggest to you that you should rehair your bow after 6 months for beginners playing an hour a day. For professionals it may required a few weeks before they may have to rehair their bow. To be a real perfectionist, you could measure the bow hair width before you start playing and when the sound starts to change, you can re-measure it and see if there is a significant change. If half of the hairs have fallen out, that would indicate your bow to be rehaired.

For the savvy and cost cutting individual, you may try and save yourself some money by rehairing the bow yourself as it can costs $100’s. You also need the right tools and equipment to complete the task. A bow rehairing clamp, bow hair gauge. Unless you have the time for it and the drive for it, the best way would be to have a professional luthier do it.

How To Make Your Violin Bow Last

Loosen the bow hairs after playing. If you just let it tighten you can damage the bow causing distortion and curving the shape of the bow permanently.

Based on Corilon Violns several tips include:

  • Using a toothbrush to comb out the rosin from the bow hairs after playing.
  • Use a microfiber cloth (or a soft cloth) to wipe down the stick.
  • Cleaning the hairs of the bow with rubbing alcohol (or a high. percentage alcohol 70% or more) to get rid of thick clumps of rosin.

To clean the hairs with alcohol just loosen the frog a bit and make sure that the hairs are not tangled. Massage in rubbing alcohol but, be wary that the alcohol does not come into contact with the stick to avoid any damage. Once you are sure that the rosin is mostly out of the hairs, use shampoo and soap with water to get rid of any dirt.

Good Condition For Decades

Having proper violin maintenance and following these tips will provide you financial relief as spending will be limited in repairs from damage and other miscellaneous issues. In addition you will be able to keep your violin for a very long time and cherish the memories you had with your violin. One day you may even pass on your violins to the next generation as they will take the mantle to perform the next greatest pieces in the future.