violinCare of Stringed Instruments

There are specific instructions when caring for a stringed instrument. If parents and students are unaware of this basic knowledge, results may be disastrous.

Cleaning
  1. Always dust off instruments and the wood stick of the bow with a clean, dry cloth after playing. (Suggestions: a soft flannel cloth, a handy wipe, a handkerchief).  The cloth should not have previously been exposed to chemicals or polishes of any kind.
2. Strings and the fingerboard may be cleaned by the teacher only using rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball. DO NOT SATURATE THE COTTON BALL. Use alcohol sparingly and rub the strings and fingerboard gently. Do not allow spillage on the wood.
3. Polish the instruments no more than a couple of times per year. The only polish to use is STRING INSTRUMENT POLISH which can only be purchased at a music shop. Polish using the cream sparingly and rub off all polish from wood.
Do not use any kind of furniture polish.
4. Do not polish the wood stick of the bow. It will destroy the bow.
 

Storing Instruments
1. When putting a violin/viola in the case, remove the shoulder pad (sponge) and pack separately.
2. When unpacking and packing a cello or bass in a soft case, remember to remove the bow first when unpacking and return the bow to the case last when packing up. This will avoid breakage of the bow.
3. Do not store a stringed instrument in a hot, cold or humid room.
(such as a garage, trunk of a car, basement or hot attic) Store in the living quarters of the house. Do not hang instrument from stand.
4. Cellos and basses are to be stored on their side on the floor. Do not stand them upright in a corner or leaning against a wall.

The Bow
1. The bow has a screw which adjusts the tension of the hairs. The rule is "Left - Loose and Right - Tight". In other words, tighten the screw three turns to the right to play and loosen the screw three turns to the left when storing bow.  Using the pencil (for violins and violas), and the dowel (for cellos and string basses), as a measuring tool for tightening the bow, works very well.
2. Do not absolutely touch the hairs of the bow with your hands. Invisible oils from the fingers will coat the hairs making it impossible for the rosin to adhere to the hair. Eventually, the bow will not make a sound when drawn across the string.
3. The bow is fragile so treat it with delicacy.
 
Rosin
1. Rosin is very fragile.  If dropped on the floor, it will most likely shatter. For this reason, the rosin should always be kept in it's storage box; and placed in the case when not being used.
2. The bow hair should be rosined each time the student plays.  This should be done after the hair is tightened.  Usually, five to ten strokes will suffice.

The Bridge
1. THE BRIDGE IS NOT GLUED TO THE INSTRUMENT. Therefore, do not touch the bridge. The bridge must be protected at all times.
2. It is suggested to cover the bridge area with a thin cloth when packed in the case.
3. When removing a cello or bass from a soft case, the student must learn to protect the bridge as the instrument is removed.
4. The bridge should be checked by the teacher when tuning. The bridge should lean slightly toward the tail piece, not the fingerboard.


Holding the Instrument in Rest Position
All Stringed instruments should be held by the fingerboard and nothing else including the pegs, bridge, scroll, main body or chin rest.

Tuning
1. Do not allow elementary students to tune their own instruments by the pegs, without the direct supervision of the teacher! The strings will break, if the instrument is not tuned properly! Parents who are not experienced in tuning, should seek advice from the music teacher before touching the instrument.
2. When tuning, hold the instrument with the bridge facing you. Turn the pegs downward slightly to loosen the peg before raising the pitch of the string.
3. As you tune upward, push the peg inward as you move upward.
4. If a peg does not hold, apply peg compound to the peg. See a luthier for purchase and instructions.
5. Try to use fine tuners as much as possible. This will save valuable time.
6. Make sure you periodically check the bottom of the fine tuner. If you repeatedly turn the screw in one direction from week to week, eventually the screw will dig into the wood of the body.


Chin Rest
The chin rest may loosen. The music teacher can easily tighten the chin rest with a special tool.

Tail Gut
If you open a case and find an instrument completely apart, chances are the tail gut snapped or wore out. With the correct replacement part, the music teacher can make this repair. Tail Guts are now made out of plastic with adjustable screws. They are very easy to set.
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