In the excitement of learning to play the violin, it’s very easy to forget one of the most important lessons – how to take care of your violin!
Many people describe their violin as their “baby” and rightly so – it takes a lot of attention and care to keep a violin in a healthy, working condition.
There are little things you can do daily, but also things you can do every six months and once a year.
Storing the Violin
Choose a Good Case: Choose a solid case to store and transport the violin – and check out our Best Violin Cases article for an in-depth guide on buying the perfect violin case. Even choosing the best violin case does not guarantee the safety of the violin.
Safety First: You must also choose a safe place in your home to keep the violin to avoid damage. For instance, keeping the violin safe in its case won’t make a difference if it’s also left in the line of fire of sibling playtime in the living room. A violin can still incur damage if dropped or impacted while in its case.
Temperature: Avoid leaving the violin directly near a blowing heater or air conditioner. The extreme temperatures can easily damage the violin.
Transporting the Violin
Face Up or Side: Even when it’s in its case – always store the violin on its back with the bridge facing up. Never place the violin case with the bridge side down. This can cause tension and will eventually damage the violin. It is also possible to place it on its side with the handle side up.
Avoid the Trunk: If possible, avoid storing the violin in the trunk of the car. This could subject the violin to extreme temperatures and worse, it is more susceptible to damage if you were rear-ended.
Don’t Leave it in the Car: Avoid leaving the violin in the car for long periods of time. Not only does this invite theft but it can subject the violin to extreme temperatures and lead to damage.
When the humidity is too high, this can cause excess swelling and damage.
Use a dehumidifier to help regulate high humidity. However, low humidity can also cause open seams and cracks. When the humidity drops below 30-40%, it’s time to take care of the humidity levels for your violin.
There are two popular and easy ways to address low humidity levels:
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.
Check out our article How Does the Weather Affect Your Violin? for more details on weather-related violin considerations.
Wiping Down the Violin and Bow Stick
Always, always, always wipe down the violin and stick of the bow with a soft cloth after playing. This will help prevent the sticky rosin dust from building up on the violin and bow.
It’s tempting to treat the violin wood as if it’s a piece of furniture that you polish every now and again.
But it’s best just to use nothing but a soft cloth (separate from the one you use to wipe off rosin dust) to wipe down the violin. It also helps to habitually avoid touching the body of the violin with your fingers too often.
This will help keep the violin clean and oil-free. Instead, handle the violin by the neck.
Loosen the Bow Hair
When you have finished playing, always loosen the bow hair. This will prevent the stick from warping over time and will preserve the quality of the bow hair for longer.
Avoid Over-Rosining the Bow
When you over-rosin the bow, it creates excess rosin dust which becomes a hassle to clean-off the violin and bow stick. It can also affect the quality of sound, making the violin sound too coarse.
Wash Your Hands and Cut Those Nails
Get into the habit of washing your hands before playing to minimize dirt and oils that can build up on your violin.
Also, it’s important to keep your nails short because it will not only help improve your playing technique, it will also prevent your nails from damaging the strings.
Every Six Months
Change the Strings
Over time the strings will either break or lose their quality. It’s good to change the strings about every six months.
It’s also a good idea to keep the old set of strings as a back-up in case you break a string and need a temporary replacement until you can buy a new one.
Clean the Fingerboard
The fingerboard can build up oils over time and you’ll start to see it form in streaks on the fingerboard. An easy way to clean this is to dab a little rubbing alcohol onto a soft cloth and use it to clean the fingerboard and strings only.
Do not use rubbing alcohol on the rest of the violin because it will damage the varnish. A good time to do this is when you are changing the strings.
Revisit Humidity Levels
As the seasons change, revisit the humidity levels surrounding your violin. Maybe it’s time to adjust your approach, as outlined above in the daily maintenance section.
Get a Re-hair
Bow hairs will naturally fall-out in the course of day-to-day playing. When that happens, just gently pull it out and throw it away. It’s not a big deal and is completely normal. But because of this, you’ll need to get a re-hair about once every six months.
For beginner players, sometimes the bow is of such low quality that a luthier will prefer you to just buy a new bow than go to the trouble of rehairing. Either way – don’t let the bow get too low on bow hair. It will make playing more difficult and can lead to warping in the bow.
Once a Year
General Violin Checkup
About once a year, you’ll want to take your violin to a luthier who will give it a little “check-up,” just like you would have at the doctor.
The luthier will check for the health of the violin and may also make minor adjustments to help improve the sound, such as adjusting the sound post inside the violin. If you are renting a violin, the dealer may also be able to perform this “check-up.”
In the excitement of learning to play the violin, don’t forget to learn the proper care and maintenance for your violin.
These Violin Care and Maintenance Tips for Beginners will prevent injury for both you and the violin while also ensuring the best quality sound when playing.