The violin is a truly exquisite work of art with an unforgettable sound. They have been around for five centuries now and are still used in modern genres and various film scores today.
It is common knowledge that a violin can survive hundreds of years, and we’re not only talking about Guarneri or Stradivari or even Amati instruments.
And just like a great work of art, the value of a well-maintained violin can also increase over time. And any violin (even yours) can last for generations if given proper care and maintenance.
Therefore, learning to take care of your violin is critical in protecting its timeless sound and overall value.
You must remember that a violin is a highly fragile musical instrument, and certain variables can harm its sound.
These include physical damages, temperature changes, dangerous commercial cleaners, and sloppy cleaning techniques.
We are often not taught the right and most essential information about our violins, mainly about proper care of your violin.
As a result, we forget that it needs maintenance, and at times we are too lazy to even wipe the layer of dust off our violin.
How can you not fall in love with this magical instrument? The sound it produces induces a melodic trance. But do you know how to take care of your violin?
After you have started developing a relationship with your violin, there is one rule that almost all musicians follow:
Treat your musical instrument with love, respect, care, and always protect it from harm.
On that note, here are some ways violin beginners can look after their instrument:
Wipe After Playing
The layer of varnish on your violin can be tarnished if not adequately cared for. The sound of almost all acoustic instruments – like the guitar and bass – is primarily influenced by its varnish.
Therefore, to keep your violin’s finish in perfect condition, you must always wipe it when done. This is a non-compromising rule when it comes to proper care and maintenance of your instrument.
Your violin has to be wiped clean with a specially designed cloth. And in some cases, a microfiber cloth can work too.
It is better to use a single cloth for the fingerboard and strings, thoroughly wiped. If your violin’s strings are covered with rosin, it might produce noise, and the sound will be all over the place.
The fingerboard attracts a lot of sweat from your palm. Therefore, a clean rag is typically used to ease off the grime from a violin.
However, if there is a lot of built-up rosin on the upper plate, show it to a professional, and do not try anything that might damage your instrument.
Remember, a violin is a delicate instrument, and it might start to pop and creak if left out in humid or cold winds for too long.
A humidity level of around 50% is perfect to house a violin. To keep the environmental conditions at optimum levels, make sure to store it back in the case as soon as you’re done playing.
Violins are incredibly fragile and susceptible to changes in humidity and temperature. If yours is stored in a hot or humid place, the bottom plate and top plate will start to swell.
This will alter the dimensions of the violin’s body and cause its sound to collapse. Similarly, if you keep your violin in a dry environment for a long time, its fingerboard can fall off.
Therefore, violins should always be stored in places where the temperature and humidity can be maintained at a certain level.
There is an easy way to tell if a room is unfit to store a violin: if the temperature conditions are uncomfortable for you, don’t keep sort your violin there for too long.
Another thing to consider when storing your violin is the natural shape of the instrument – its curves. That is why you can’t just place it on any surface.
Also, note that your violin’s varnish is light-sensitive. Therefore, you must never store it in a place that experiences sunlight. Instead, keep it in a case in a safe location.
Experts advise against putting your violin out in plain sight when you are not playing, making it vulnerable to the weather and theft.
But on the other hand, if you leave your violin out, it will always remind you to practice. Therefore, just keep it in sight but in a safe place, like on your bookcase or on top of your piano.
Musicians tend to keep their violin in a case when they are not using it. Also, if you do the same and reside in an area with a dry climate, you might need to invest in a humidifier for your violin case.
Otherwise, the wood on your violin can crack or become brittle.
Also, keep in mind: do not forget your violin in a car. In the summer, the glue can melt, and in the winter, it gets too cold and affects the quality of the wood.
Not All Cleaners Are Friendly For Your Violin
While taking care of string-based musical instruments like guitars and violins, the usual practice is to wipe them with a clean, dry cloth. The cloth in question is exclusively designed for violins, and you can find them easily.
Usually, that’s all you need; however, when a violin is used for longer, it acquires an inevitable rosin dust buildup around its bridge. This also depends on the violin size and surface area.
Furthermore, it also attracts fingerprints and grease on the fingerboard. Moreover, you may be able to spot a few on other parts of the instrument.
Always depend on dedicated cleaners to wipe your violin when your notice this buildup. Doing this removes not only the buildup but also restores your violin’s varnish luster.
The thing that throws a spanner in the works is that there are several cleaning product options to consider, and they differ mainly in the volume and type of polish in them.
To put it simply, the ones that don’t include polish lack adequate strength to clean your instrument thoroughly, although they are easy on the surface of the violin.
In contrast, cleaners that include polish as an ingredient remove the buildup more effectively, but they also harm your violin in the process.
Use two dedicated cleaning cloths for instruments that have strings. First, apply a dab of polish to one and use it as a dirt remover. Then, use the other to wipe the violin after the dirt is removed.
If you use one rag for dirt removal and wiping, your violin will remain grimy. Therefore, you must always differentiate.
Furthermore, if you’re relying on a polish-based cleaner, mix it well before use, and try not to scrub too vigorously.
The last thing to remember is that cleaners with polish ultimately remove a small amount of varnish and must never be applied to already worn-out surfaces.
If you encounter some form of stubborn dirt that refuses to come off with regular cleaning, speak to a professional.
The first rule of bow cleaning is never to touch the bow hair. This is because our skin has oils that can leave a slick on the bow’s hair. If that happens, it will not grip the rosin.
After using your violin, make the hair slightly loose. Remember, it shouldn’t be very tight when not in use; otherwise, your stick might wrap, stretching the hair.
Once you have played your instrument, rub the stick clean with a microfiber cloth to polish it and get rid of rosin dust.
A question commonly asked is how frequently does a violin bow need to be re-haired? Unfortunately, the answer is not specific since it depends on your playing frequency and the amount of hair your bow has lost.
While this might now be the answer you were looking for, a common practice among violinists is to re-hair the bow annually.
To put it differently, think about this: If your bow is in great shape and seems full, you don’t have to worry about re-hairing it.
When cleaning your strings, the first step is to wipe off any excess rosin after playing. A small amount of rosin buildup does not necessarily alter the violin’s performance.
However, it may become impossible to remove if left to rest for a more extended period.
While learning to play the violin, you need to know when y=to switch out the strings. Experts believe that you must change your viola or violin strings biannually if you play frequently.
Furthermore, you must not exceed 365 days of use since that is the maximum your strings can take. However, as a violin beginner, you may have more time before you have to make the switch.
When your violin strings lose their sound quality or power or when they look frayed, you should change them. Also, keep in mind that when you do it, switch them out one-by-one.
Ensure that you reassess the bridge condition before you begin playing. Its feet must be snug against the violin top, aligned with f-hole notches.
While you play, you may notice the bridgehead getting pulled forward. If this happens, it can warp the bridge.
You can quickly and carefully adjust your violin’s bridge so it can stand straight; however, ensure that you have loosened the strings beforehand.
Taking Good Care Of Your Violin
Taking great care of your violin is simply about the daily habits you create for yourself. In fact, your main priority must be to avoid having to fix your violin.
Most nonchalant violinists often let their instrument sit with months of rosin residue on it. And then, to tackle the massive buildup, they use harsh polishes and cleaning solutions for instant results.
However, this method causes more harm than good. Remember, this entire charade can be easily avoided by wiping your instrument after every practice.
Furthermore, you should also focus on protecting your violin from various external forces not in your control, like the weather or someone accidentally tripping over your case.
That is why you need to have a durable, protective, and temperature-resistant violin case, along with several humidity control packets if you reside in a more extreme climate.
Buying a violin for beginners is never easy. But if you need someone to provide you with cleaning-related violin tips alongside music classes, head on over to Superprof.
Superprof has a directory of experienced violin instructors in your area. Sign up today and find one that will offer you a free first session!
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