How Does the Weather Affect Your Violin?

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When the seasons change, have you ever noticed that the doors in the house tend to open and close slightly differently?

When humidity and temperatures change, wood expands and contracts and has a subtle but noticeable impact on how things like doors function. The same happens with your violin. When the weather changes, so does your violin.

While the changes may seem minuscule at first, the longer you play, the more you will notice these subtle differences. So – How Does the Weather Affect Your Violin?

Sound Quality

When the weather changes, the sound of your violin can be slightly affected. When temperatures and humidity expand and contract the wood, it can also shift the sound post inside the violin.

The sound post is very sensitive to even the slightest changes and can thus impact the sound. This is why it is good to have a violin “check-up” with a luthier once a year to have the sound-post adjusted. Even the smallest nudge of the sound post can mean the difference between a clear, resonant tone and a “stuffy,” dull sound. 

For more tips on violin care, check out our article: Violin Care & Maintenance Tips for Beginners.

Ease of Playing

Because warmer weather expands wood, it will also expand the bridge and thus ever so slightly raise the height of the strings. This could impact playability for some violinists.

Conversely, when colder weather hits and wood contracts, the strings can end up being closer to the fingerboard and thus impact playability, especially with string crossings. For some, these changes could be very distracting, while for others, it may not even be apparent.

If the expansion and contraction of the bridge becomes a major problem at season changes, speak with a luthier about options to swap out the bridge to accommodate the changes.

Tuning

Because wood expands in warm weather and contracts in cold weather, this can have a profound impact on tuning. You may notice that the pegs seem stiffer or more resistant to turning in the warm weather and may slip a lot in the cold weather.

Extreme temperature changes, such as going from the air conditioning to a hot outdoor summer concert, can throw your violin’s tuning way out of whack. Don’t worry – this is normal and only happens because your violin just underwent a drastic change in temperature and humidity.

To soften the impact of such drastic changes, avoid opening your violin in the new environment for at least 10 or 15 minutes to give the case and violin some time to adjust.

Humidity Considerations

The violin is very sensitive to humidity changes and if the humidity levels get too extreme, seams can open and cracks can develop.

Luckily there are a few precautions to take. When the humidity is too high in the summer, consider using a dehumidifier.

When the humidity drops below 30-40%, it’s time to take extra steps to help regulate the humidity levels for your violin. Two popular and easy ways to address low humidity levels are to:

Use a Damp-it

A Damp-it is a long, thin sponge wrapped in rubber. You soak the sponge in water for a little bit, pat dry, and then rest it inside the f-hold of the violin. This helps to remotely regulate the humidity levels. This is good for those who need to transport the violin frequently.

Use a humidifier

A humidifier is an easy solution for those who do not need to transport the violin frequently. Because of this reason, it’s important to keep the violin stored in the same room as the humidifier on a routine basis.

Conclusion

Weather can affect the health of your violin as well as the sound quality and playability.

When wood expands and contracts, subtle changes in alignment and structure can lead to changes in sound production and even potential damage. The changes can even impact the tuning of your violin. Luckily, just a few small precautions can minimize the effect of weather on your violin.

Vena Johnsonhttps://www.venajohnson.com/
Vena is an American professional violinist and teaching artist with a passion for collaborative music and performance art. After studying, teaching, and freelancing in the greater-Philadelphia region for 10 years, Vena set off to travel the world with her violin. Her travels have almost always intersected with her passion for music performance, bringing her to Italy, Ireland, the Middle East, Nepal, India, China, and Japan, where she currently resides.

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1 COMMENT

  1. I had no idea about the humidity thing and it really took me by surprise. I was improving quite a bit and then suddenly, no matter what I played, it sounded off. Because my lessons had ended for the year, I was not able to ask my teacher about it. It wasn’t until 2 months later that my boyfriend brought it up to a waitress at a restaurant who also played that I found out it was because of the weather changing and the humidity!

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