All instruments are delicate and deserves to be taken good care of, this is extremely true with string instruments, which are very sophisticated and manual, it’s important for beginners to understand the instrument care tips and techniques that will maintain both its beauty and its sound quality.

Knowing how to care for your violin will actually improve your learning process. Continued maintenance helps increase your personal violin investment and helps you identify issues before they have a chance to adversely affect your playing. A neglected instrument won’t sound good, and hard to keeping your enthusiasm going. However, you will keep your violin in top condition by using these instrument care tips on a regular basis so it will be a pleasure to play and practice.


Storing Your Violin

As a rule, the safest place to keep a violin is in its violin case. The temperature of the room should be constant and the humidity moderate. Extreme temperature and humidity variations cause it to expand and contract with respect to the amount of moisture it can absorb. If it’s too dry, your instrument can develop cracks and seam separations that create annoying buzzing or whistling noise.

  • When not in use, store your violin and bow in a hard case, designed to prevent instrument damage. 
  • Never store your violin in very hot or very cold areas.
  • Consider including a room humidifier for your storage area if you live in a very dry climate or deal with long, dry winters.
  • When placing the violin in its violin case, make sure that no sharp or pointed objects can damage the varnish(Remove shoulder rest tuner before putting violin in). Most cases come with a soft blanket to spread over the top, neck and scroll of the violin before the case is closed. 
  • Slacken the hair before your bow is stored. It can destroy its delicate camber (the stick’s vertical curve) leaving unnecessary tension on your bow.


Cleaning the Violin

The varnish is very delicate on a violin. Varnish influences to a great extent the tone of violins, guitars, and other acoustic instruments, making it an important element of the instrument. The most dangerous kind of grime is rosin dust, which accumulates on the face each time a violin is played and can damage the varnish if it is not wiped away after each playing session.  Therefore, always wipe the instrument after playing to keep the finish in good condition.

Violin Care
  • After each playing session, gently wipe down your instrument and strings with a dry soft cloth to remove rosin dust and body oils.
  • Avoid using the same cloth to clean the rest of the body, as any rough flakes of rosin that may be sticking to the cloth could scratch the varnish, and a fine layer of rosin dust from the cloth would be distributed all over the instrument, eventually dulling the varnish
  • While extreme caution must be taken, pure alcohol can be used to remove more stubborn rosin build – up on strings. Since alcohol damages the violin’s varnish, however, it is very important to use a bare minimum so that nothing drips onto the instrument.
  • Never use a commercial furniture polish, water, or wood cleaner on your violin. These items can weaken the glue, or ruin the acoustics of your instrument. A special polish is used for violins and can be purchased for less than $15, but as long as you keep your instrument wiped off, you shouldn’t need to employ it very often.


Tuning the Violin

The starting point when tuning any stringed instrument is concert pitch a’, which, aside from a few regional preferences and traditions, is the universally accepted standard at 440 Hz. Using a tuning fork or digital tuner, first tune the a’ string. The best way to tune the other strings is to have a good ear. Learning to hear when the g – d – a’ and e’’ notes are tuned in intervals of perfect fifths is an important exercise that should not be underestimated.

Guitar tuner

Many websites and smartphones feature tuning programs of variable quality. These are useful aids, but they can not replace tuning in fifths.Many violins have only one fine tuner on the tailpiece. Tuning such violins requires more practice because pegs are much harder to adjust than the lever-operated mechanism of a fine tuner. 

  • Pegs slip is normal, do not panic when they happen!
  • Peg lubricant helps stiff pegs turn more smoothly and can be purchased from a violin maker or music shop.
  • Peg chalk solves the opposite problem and prevents slippage. 
  • Pegs can be prevented from sliding out when new violin strings are put on: guide the string so that it lies very close to the edge of the peg box as you wind it. 
  • But, always try the easiest solution first: push inward while tuning, a little force will increase the fraction between peg and peg box so as to keep it in place, remember to be gentle though.


Time for Change?

No matter how careful you are with your violin, the time will still come for you to change strings and/or bow hair.

Guitar String

There are many variables that influence the longevity of a string, such as the acidity of your sweat, the string’s composition, and the environment in which you play (whether it is hot, humid, etc.). Over time, strings will naturally lose some of their resonance and ability to hold pitch. In general, it is recommended that with frequent use, you change violin or viola strings every 3-6 months, and cello or double bass strings every 6 months to 1 year. However, with less frequent use (such as beginning student-level playing), strings may last slightly longer than this guideline.  Signs that it’s time to change your strings include:

  • The inability to hold pitch for a long duration
  • A dirty or grimy appearance
  • A dull sound

Now, let’s talk about bow, generally speaking, if you practice a lot (4 of 5 hours a day) you may need to get your bow rehaired every couple of months. For most people every 6 months to once a year is enough if all or most of the hairs are still intact. Don’t attempt to wash the hair as you can damage the bow and it won’t do much good as it is the smoothness of the hairs that cause the slipping. You do not have to wait until couple month to rehair if you see those signs:

  • Bow is missing many hairs. Most commonly hairs break from the playing side edge
  • Hair turns very dark and dirty
  • Won’t bite or cling to the string when playing with a moderate amount of rosin

In a nutshell, treat your instrument the way you want to be treated, they deserve the best care and love from you!