Beginner's Guide to Instrument Care and What to Do if Something Breaks!
You have a new family member now! - and handling a new instrument in the home can be a big learning experience. Here are some tips and tricks to help with the basics of instrument care.
The wonders of a cleaning cloth
The humble cleaning cloth does much more than you would expect!
After every play, use a dry cleaning cloth to very gently pinch each string one at a time and move the cloth up and down the strings to clean the rosin off. This will certainly extend the life of the strings as the rosin doesn’t erode them over time.
After every play, wipe over the whole instrument, paying particular attention to the middle of of the belly of the instrument, where the rosin mostly falls near the bridge.
Caring for the instrument in the heat or cold
Our wooden instruments don't enjoy the heat or cold as much as we humans do. We strongly advise against leaving your string instrument in the car - even if it just for five minutes. Your instrument could be permanently damaged even after a short period of time. We recommend storing your instrument in an area which remains at a stable temperature throughout the day, rather than directly under an air conditioning unit, for example.
Caring for the bow
At the end of every play, loosen the screw of the bow until the bow hair loosens slightly and is touching the wooden stick. This is so the stick isn’t always under tension and will keep the stick in the best shape, without bowing!
When needing to play, tighten the screw so the gap between the horse hair and the wooden stick in the middle of the bow is enough for a lead pencil to fit through. You’re now ready to play.
What to do if a string breaks
Strings will break when they are worn, rusted, old or strung incorrectly. It is alright when a string breaks, even if it does make a bit of a sound is a shock, but the instrument will not be damaged if this happens.
We recommend taking your instrument to your nearest violin store to have a new string fitted. If you don't leave nearby to us in Red Hill, Brisbane, we offer fast shipping Australia wide on our huge range of strings. Your teacher will appreciate if you purchase your new string before the next lesson so they can fit it for you.
Shop our Strings collection.
What to do if the instrument is dropped
Sometimes accidents happen! If the instrument is dropped, don't panic just yet. Loosen the pegs by turning them downwards towards you, and gently take the bridge off the belly of the instrument and place it safely inside the case. Make sure you keep all the bits and pieces of the instrument inside the case for the next step.
Take the instrument to your nearest string instrument store for a luthier's (violin makers) assessment. The luthiers will be able to advise what repairs may be required to restore the instrument to a play condition.
It's important to be careful - care when handling the instrument is always required, even if the instrument is in its case.
Learn more about Repairs & Servicing at Simply for Strings.
What to do if there is a ‘bang’ or ‘pop’ sound
If you can’t identify a sound, and the instrument hasn't been dropped, there is a possibility that a seam has become unglued or has popped open, or a crack has developed in the timber. If you suspect this may have happened, take the instrument to your luthier for assessment.
Top three tips for general instrument care
- Pack the instrument into its case after every play, or if it is being left out of the case, ensure it is away from pets and small children who could damage it.
- Take your instrument to your luthier every 6 - 12 months for a general service, similar to your car. A general service involves a full clean of the timber, timber treatments, string cleaning, peg care, fine tuner and machine heads care, and other steps which will ensure your instrument is always in working condition.
- If you live in an area with high or low humidity, consider a humidifier to keep your instrument comfortable all year round. Learn how to use a humidifier.
Learn what to expect when your child starts music lessons.
We hope these tips have been helpful! If you have any concerns about the health of your instrument, get in touch with our friendly team of musicians today.
Read how to Clean and Protect Your Instrument During Flu Season here.