Guide to Instrument Care
Everything a string player needs to know!
A general guide to instrument care and maintenance for your instrument, bow, bridge, strings and more. Recommended reading for beginners and advanced players alike. Family and parents of students will find this information helpful as well.
Avoid touching the bow hair. The oils on your fingers will get into the hair which will affect the sound that is produced. Before you play, you must tighten your bow. The thumb screw at the bottom of the bow will allows you to loosen or tighten your bow. Turn it left to loosen and right to tighten it. DO NOT over tighten the bow. You should tighten the bow to about a pencil’s width between the stick and the hair in the center of the bow. After you play, you must loosen the bow. If you do not, your bow can warp and the bow hair will stretch out. In order for the bow to make sound, it must have rosin on it. The rosin will cause the bow to firmly grip onto the strings and produce a sound. Rosin does not always need to be applied each time you play and should be sparingly applied to the bow.
Horse hair breaks, stretches and eventually stops engaging the string. Wear will show through the loss of hair and darkening or yellowing of hair time and with use. Your bow should be rehaired every one to two years, depending on the frequency in which it is played.
When you are finished playing, take a dry soft cotton cloth and wipe the rosin off the instrument and strings. Only use violin polish for the wood of the instrument. Instruments should be cleaned/polished about once a month. DO NOT use household cleaners or polishes to clean your instrument. DO NOT expose your instrument to the temperature extremes. Instruments and varnish are subject to damage from heat and excessive temperatures. Your instrument is held together with animal hide glue. Extreme temperatures can cause the glue to let loose and instrument come apart. Never leave your instrument in the car; not even five minutes. Florida heat inside cars can reach 130 degrees in a short period of time.
Bridge Care: Everything a strings player needs to know!
Your bridge is not glued to the instrument. It is held in place by the tension of the strings. The bridge will tend to tilt over time in response to tuning the instrument. Always ensure that your bridge is standing up straight at a 90 degree angle. If you don’t do this the bridge will warp over time and new bridge will need to be cut and fit to your instrument.
When tuning the instrument use an electric tuner or pitch-pipe so you know what pitch you are aiming for. Do not over tune the pegs. If the pitch is only slightly off then use the fine tuners, which are located at the tailpiece. The strings will break if over tightened. Most players make small tuning adjustments everyday. How often you will need to tune depends on several factors including weather, humidity, movement, and how old your strings are.
To keep excess rosin from building up on strings, wipe down your strings with a players cloth, microfiber, or 100% cotton cloth after playing. We recommend changing strings at least once a year for any regular string player. Changing the strings is an easy way to enhance the overall sound and improve play-ability of the instrument.
Three to five months after purchasing your instrument you may need a tonal adjustment. It can eliminate typical problems such as uneven sound, poor response, wolf tones, and an absence of dynamic range. Tonal adjustments ensure that you instrument is working optimally. After an initial adjustment we recommend an adjustment about every 6 months to a year. We recommend one with every season change for serious players.
Should something happen to your instrument or bow and there is a crack or you think there may be one it is important that you act in a timely manner. Loosen the strings to about 2/3 tension or 1/2 tension. Playing on your instrument or keeping full tension on the strings can result in making the crack bigger or other further damages. If any wooden pieces come off be sure to try to collect them so a luthier can put them back in place. Bring your instrument to our professional workshop for repair. We can provide you with a complimentary loaner instrument so no practice time is lost.
Atlantic Strings is a full service shop that will provide you with assistance for any maintenance needs.
Atlantic Strings Violin Shop
Melbourne (321) 725-4161 ~ Orlando (407) 898-2698