11 things you should be doing to look after your violin
For collectors, musicians and fine instrument dealers, taking good care of your instrument is key to getting the most out of it in the long run. Whether you’re looking to increase the value for selling on or want to ensure plenty more years playing a quality instrument, following this advice will protect your violin and maintain its excellent sound quality.
Humidity can have a surprisingly significant impact on your violin, so it’s important to regularly monitor humidity levels where the violin is kept to avoid causing any damage.
Ideal humidity levels range between 50-60%, this ensures the atmosphere is neither too wet nor too dry.
For more information, take a look at our dedicated humidity advice blog, here: http://bit.ly/3nVHN5G
When a violin is played, the vibration of the strings puts the bridge under a lot of pressure. As a result, it can become twisted, slanted or warped. To keep the bridge in optimum condition, it is important to keep it at a 90-degree angle. This ensures it has the sufficient resistance required to support the string pressure.
After your instrument has been tuned, remember to check the bridge is in the correct 90-degree position. You can visit our Instagram page to see how best to do this: https://bit.ly/36eHw87
Click here for a simple and easy explanation from the Amorim Fine Violins team about why it is important to keep the bridge at a 90-degree angle!
The soundpost on your stringed instrument should always be straight – its standard position is below the bridge’s foot on the treble side.
To check if the soundpost is in the correct place and standing how it should, follow the below instructions:
- Put your instrument in the horizontal position.
- Once horizontal, the soundpost should be like a column – straight and perpendicular to the top plate.
- You can also use a torch to help you check it more thoroughly.
If you think the soundpost is not in the right place, we wouldn’t advise you to adjust its position on your own. Please schedule a visit with a luthier if you think something might be wrong.
Cleaning your instrument
With daily use of rosin, it can easily accumulate and become increasingly difficult to get rid of. To keep your instrument in tip top condition, make sure to clean your instrument after each practice with a dry flannel – we wouldn’t advice using water or any chemical products as this can damage the instrument.
Check out how you can clean it by yourself: https://bit.ly/39P9RCH
Lubricate the string grooves
Using a soft graphite, 6B lubricant, lubricate the string groove located on the bridge, as well as the groove upon the upper nut. This lubrication helps to prolong the lifespan of the strings, as well as reducing tension in the pegs.
Height of the strings
It is important that the string height is set to the musician’s preference. In a lot of cases, professional violinists prefer the strings to be set a little higher as it creates a brighter, louder sound.
Things to keep in mind when adjusting string height are:
- Strings that are too high might cause physical harm in your hands.
- A string placed too low could create buzzes in the sound.
- Make sure you use a string height that is appropriate for you and your playing level.
Check out the string heights we like to use, here: https://bit.ly/2XYlPo0
Changing the strings
Regardless of how often you play your instrument, the strings should be replaced at a minimum of every nine to twelve months.
Although, the more you play your stringed instrument, the more frequently the strings should be changed. For example:
- If playing for at least one hour a day, the strings should be altered every four to six months.
- If playing for hours at a time or performing frequently, the strings should be changed every one to three months.
When changing the strings, follow these simple instructions:
- Always change one string at a time.
- Wrap the strings as close as possible to the pegbox cheek, this ensures the pegs don’t jump out when the weather is dry, as well as making the instrument easier to tune.
- Whilst you’re altering the strings, take the opportunity to lubricate the pegs with a suitable lubricant.
Cleaning the strings
As you play, the sweat from your hands will penetrate the strings. This causes them to oxidise from the inside out, gradually losing their initial shine.
By rubbing the strings with a cloth until they warm up, the heat from the friction will minimise oxidation as the moisture evaporates.
Rosin should only be used when deemed completely necessary. Too much rosin can affect the sound quality of your instrument, and exaggerated amounts can make the sound dirty.
When using rosin, use one with recognised quality, that will not interefere with your sound or reduce the lifespan of the bow’s horsehair.
Bow hair care
Frequently using a dry flannel will prevent any rosin build up in the bow hair. Remember not to use any products here – not even water!
If you have recently purchased a new bow or had yours rehaired, you might be struggling to get the rosin to cling to the hair.
Top tip: If you still have an older bow, cross the hair of the two bows, causing the hair of one to slide over the hair of the other, starting from the frog and going to the tip. If you’d like to see a demonstration, you can watch Luiz, here!
When we change the hair of a bow at Amorim Fine Violins, we clean and wash it, prior to handing it to the client. Then we do the process as described as above, making it easier for rosin to adhere to the musician’s brand-new bow.
Rehairing the bow
If you’re not sure when it’s the right time to change the hair on your bow, look for the signs below:
- There is a lack of grip on the strings
- The instrument sound is lacking in depth
- The bowhair has blackened
If your bow has any of the above, contact a trusted luthier.