If you’ve decided to take up the violin, congratulations! Learning to play a musical instrument is an incredibly exciting time for most students. Always remember that several different things can damage your violin if it is not cared for properly. Violin repairs can be expensive, but most repairs can be avoided with proper care and maintenance. That is why one of the first things you should learn is how to take care of your violin correctly.
The following six tips will come in handy when learning how to maintain your violin’s sound and appearance.
- Store your violin safely. Always keep your violin in its case when you are not playing it. Do not leave it lying on the floor, lying across a chair, or propped up in the corner of your bedroom. Make sure that your case latches properly, and always double check that the case is latched before you pick it up by the handle—you wouldn’t want your violin to fall out while you carry it! Most preventable violin damage occurs due to improper storage.
- Avoid extreme temperatures. Violins are very fragile instruments and they should not be left in very hot or very cold temperatures. This means that storing your violin case in the trunk of your car is not a wise idea. Heat can melt the glue and warp the wood, and constantly transferring the violin from hot to cold will eventually cause the instrument to break and fall apart.
- Clean your violin properly. After each use, wipe down your violin and its strings with a soft cloth. It can be a piece of an old T-shirt or a non-abrasive violin cloth purchased from a music store. Pay special attention when cleaning rosin dust. (As you probably know by now, rosin is the substance that makes the hair on your violin bow sticky. Without the rosin’s grip, the bow will just slide over the strings without producing a sound.) Rosin dust can build up under the violin’s bridge. Be very careful when cleaning the rosin out from under the bridge—the bridge can easily become crooked and harm your playing. Some people use a Q-tip to remove rosin. It is okay to polish your violin occasionally, but only use polishes made specifically for the violin.
- Store your bow properly. Don’t neglect your violin bow! Always loosen the strings of the bow before you put it away. (If the strings are always tight, they will pull the bow out of line.) Wipe the rosin off of the bow before you put it away and be sure that you do not use the same rosin-covered cloth to wipe down your violin!
- Use quality strings. Even if you have an inexpensive student violin, use quality strings. Cheaper strings can cause tension on the violin. The tension can result in cracks, warping and other violin damage.
- Don’t ignore problems, even if they seem minor. Little problems can become big problems rather quickly. If you notice that something is wrong with your violin, tell your teacher and show them what is wrong. Even if they seem knowledgeable, you shouldn’t trust your parents or a friend to fix it because they may do more harm than good. Your teacher may be able to fix minor problems, but if your violin needs to be repaired you will have to take it to an experienced luthier— a stringed instrument repair person.