CARE OF THE VIOLIN
Never leave a stringed instrument in the trunk of a car. High temperatures
will shrink and crack the top, causing serious and expensive damage.
If humidity is under 4O%, use a humidifyer in the case. If over 70%,
try to avoid using the instrument. Air conditioning dries the air.
Lubricate the notches in the bridge and nut with a toothpick and
beeswax. This cuts down on string breakage and makes it easier to
straighten up the bridge. Watch the bridge and keep it straight so it
doesn't warp or fall down. Rubbing the bottom of the bridge feet with a little
powdered rosin will keep it from sliding around on the top. A warped bridge
can be saved by floating it in water overnight, concave side down, then letting
it dry for several days. Pay attention and avoid this.
Rosin dust should be wiped of f the top, bridge, and fingerboard every time
you play it. Use a folded tissue (kleenex). Liquid cleaners, wax and polish
should not be used except as a last resort.
A peg that has loose and tight spots as you turn it should be refitted or
replaced immediately to avoid splitting the pegbox. Pegódope lubricant
should be used sparingly. Too much is as bad as too little.
Do not handle the bow hair (oil on your skin). Let down the hair tension
when you put away the bow. Keep the adjuster screw lubricated. Bullet lube
from the gun shop works well for this. If the frog doesn't fit up to
the stick, screw in the eyelet in the frog as necessary.
Vacuum the case with a crevice tool every couple of months to control the
carpet beetle larvae that eat the hair out of the bow. Moth balls etc. in
the case may soften some varnishes, so are not recommended.
If you have a buzzing noise, tap around the top and back with a knuckle
to see if a spot is unglued. The E- tuner may be loose, or the strings
too close to the fingerboard.
String angle at the bridge should be about 155 degrees or the bridge
height and neck angle are wrong, resulting in poor sound. This can be
corrected by a competent violinmaker by resetting the neck, at
Do not overtighten the chinrest and crush the lower rib. This requires a
very expensive repair. Just keep it snug.
Use care in attching a shoulder rest so you don't scar and chip the
edges of the back.
Don't adjust the soundpost unless you have had a lot of practice and expert
instruction from a good violinmaker. It's saddening to see the number of
good violins, even Stradivaris and Guarneris, that have terrible f-hole
damage from this.
Unscrupulous repairmen love to sell expensive bass bar replacements,
most of them unnecessary. Adjusting the soundpost, new strings, or a
variety of other remedies may cure the problem. Get a second opinion
from a reliable expert. For anything but the most minor peg or glue job,
go to a recognized violinmaker. The lawnmower mechanic repairmen and
white glue cause a terrific amount of attrition and damage, an~ you
must be careful to avoid them.
If the instrument is stored or not used for more than two months, let
the string tension down about half, and wrap the bow tightly in thin
plastic from a dry cleaner's bag or a lightweight painter's dropcloth
to prevent the bugs eating the bow hair.
Don't leave the case by a window, an outside wall, or behind the piano or
other potentially damp place. Mildew is a disaster. Don't put the case
where the sun shines on it, either.
Admittedly the foregoing is a lot of do's and don'ts, but observing them
will surely save you money, time, and trouble.