Violin Care and Maintenance
When it comes to violin playing, you need to know how to properly care for your instrument and when to do routine maintenance. Thankfully, string instruments are fairly easy to care for.
Daily maintenance for the violin involves tuning the strings and putting on the shoulder rest before playing. After practicing, you will need to wipe off the violin and strings to remove any rosin dust that may have accumulated while playing. Rosin dust is sticky, and if left on the instrument, will create a sticky film that will ruin the varnish and attract dust particles from the air.
The bow requires minimal rosin before each practice session, as well as tightening the bow before playing and loosening before putting the bow back in the case. Be careful not to over tighten the bow!
You will also want to wipe off the stick after playing to remove excess dust. Never touch the bow hair as the oils from your hands can ruin the hair! The oils will prevent the rosin from sticking and you won’t be able to make a good sound.
Be sure to store your instrument in its case to prevent any accidental damage. It is also a good idea to keep your violin in as temperate an environment as possible. Extreme temperatures and humidity can cause the wood of the instrument to expand and contract. This causes the pegs to either get stuck or loosen affecting the tuning.
When the wood expands and contracts, it can also cause open seams as the wood pulls apart. This is a fairly easy fix by a luthier, but it can be frustrating to take your instrument in and, if not taken care of in a timely manner, can cause the instrument to warp.
Humidity can also affect the bow hair and the hair tends to shrink in drier environments.
Long Term Maintenance
Professionals replace their violin strings and rehair their bows every 6 months to a year. If you aren’t practicing more than an hour a day, you can go up to 3-4 years in between.
Bow rehairs are when a luthier removes the hair from the bow and replaces it with fresh, new hair. The hair needs to be replaced because, over time, the hair gets worn out, dirty, or broken resulting in poor sound quality.
Signs that you need a bow rehair include:
The hair is breaking frequently and you don’t have a lot of bow hair left.
The hair looks dirty.
The bow feels slippery on the strings even after applying rosin.
Violin strings need to be replaced with time because they lose their tone quality and the sound will warp as they get older. Other signs that you need to replace your strings are discoloration and unraveling, usually seen at the top by the peg box or where the string touches the bridge.
One of the most annoying things that can happen to a violin player is when their instrument starts to buzz when they play. This can be caused by any number of things, so here are some things to look for and how to fix it.
Buzzing can be caused by jewelry, buttons, or other hard surfaces rattling against the instrument when you play. Check your clothes and jewelry first before looking for other potential causes.
Fine tuners can become loose and rattle. Place your violin against you like it’s a small cello, and bow the violin while gently holding the base of each fine tuner one at a time. If the buzzing stops when you touch a fine tuner, you have found the cause. Tighten the bottom part of the finer tuner and see if the sound goes away,
The parts of the chin rest that screw together can also become loose. Test this like you did the fine tuners and tighten if needed.
Small particles of dust can get inside the violin and settle around the sound post causing buzzing sounds. These particles can be very small, so you may not be able to see them. Blow forcefully into the f holes on either side of the violin to dislodge any possible dust.
If you try all of the above and you still can’t find the source of the buzzing, it’s time to take it into a luthier.
Are you ready to take your violin learning to the next level? Join The Adult Violin Academy today and start making consistent progress in your violin practice!