INSTRUMENT CARE GUIDE

Playing/Practicing Checklist

  1. Are my hands clean?
  2. Am I in a safe place?
  3. Is my bow tightened?
  4. Is there enough rosin on my bow?
  5. Is my instrument properly tuned?

Checklist for Putting an Instrument Away

  1. Did I loosen my bow?
  2. Is all the rosin cleaned off the instrument with a soft cloth?
  3. Have I cleaned the strings??
  4. Have I removed the shoulder rest/sponge from the violin/viola?
  5. Is my instrument put properly into the case?
  6. Is my bow put away carefully?
  7. Are the accessories—rosin, chin-rest—put away properly?
  8. Did I store my instrument in a safe, humidified spot?

General Care:

  • Physical Safety. Always keep your instrument in its case when not in use.   Store it in a safe place, away from younger siblings and pets.   Never leave your instrument in a “high traffic” area.
  • Temperature Changes. Avoid rapid temperature changes or temperature extremes. A good “rule of thumb” is never to leave your instrument where you would not like to be yourself.  Always avoid excessive heat, cold, wet or dry! A helpful hint—your case can help insulate your instrument from extremes and help make the temperature change slower if the instrument is brought in from a cold place to a warm place, or a warm place to a cold place.   Leave it in the case to allow for a more gradual warming or cooling.
  • The only really dangerous element of cold for a stringed instrument is a sudden temperature change.   When going from warm to cold, or cold to warm, make sure the instrument is properly insulated.  Sudden temperature change can make the wood expand or contract quickly, resulting in broken joints and seams and cracked wood.  Never store your instrument over or near an air conditioning or heating register
  • Heat is a major menace to stringed instruments.   String instrument makers (Luthiers) purposefully use wood glues that soften when heated (145 F) so that an instrument can be disassembled for service when necessary.   Direct sunlight can easily heat your instrument to glue-melting temperatures and/or weaken and/or destroy the joints and seams in the instrument.  Never leave your instrument in direct sunlight, even if it is in the case!  Never store your instrument over or near a heating register
  • Dampness/High Humidity. While exposure to some moisture is important to the health of your instrument, storing it in a “damp” place, or exposing it to excessive moisture is very bad for your instrument’s health.  Excessive moisture will cause the wood in the string insntrument, including the neck, to buckle and warp.  In extreme cases, the moisture may even affect the glue, causing failure of the joints and seams.
  • Dry Conditions. Dry conditions are the main enemy of most stringed instruments.  When wood dries out it tends to shrink.  The construction of a string instrument demands that such shrinkage will result in either broken joints and seams or cracks in the wood.    Day Violins strongly recommends the use of “Dampits” or other humidifying devices during dry conditions.
  • You are responsible for loss or damage to the instrument not caused by normal wear and tear.  If you enroll in the “Strings to Scroll” Maintenance Program, you are protected against all loss or damage not attributed to intentional or negligent actions.

Daily Care:

  • Each time after you are finished playing, remove any rosin and hand oils from the instrument with a soft cloth. Don’t let rosin build up on your instrument.   It is difficult to remove if you let it set for any length of time.
  • Strings will last twice as long if you wipe them down each time after playing. This also helps to keep the fingerboard clean.
  • Each time you play, check the bridge. As the instrument is tuned, the strings tend to pull the top of the bridge towards the fingerboard.  If the bridge tilts too much, it may fall over.   This can break the bridge, or even crack the top of the instrument.   It may also cause the sound post inside the instrument to fall.   In proper position, the bridge should be parallel with the bottom edge of the fingerboard and the feet of the bridge should rest on the top of the instrument uniformly.   If your bridge tilts for any reason, please contact Day Violins.   Day Violins will make, or help you make, the proper adjustments to the bridge.    Remember, unless it is done correctly, attempts to fix this problem may break the bridge and result in a costly repair.
  • Do not attempt to tune your instrument unless you have been properly trained to do so. Improper tuning is the major cause of broken strings.  So, get yourself trained, or let your teacher do the tuning!
  • If you do tune your instrument, make sure the pegs turn freely with minimum pressure towards the peg box. Never force a peg into the peg box.  If it slips or it is stuck, do not force it.   Using force often results in a broken peg or damage to the peg box.  Remember that dry conditions may cause the pegs to shrink and slip, and humid conditions may cause them to swell and stick.  Also remember, that over time, pegs may go out of round and start to slip.  If this happens they will need to be refitted in order for your instrument to be properly tuned.  If you are having trouble keeping your instrument in tune, talk to your teacher or call Day Violins for assistance.
  • Each time you finish playing, immediately clean and put your instrument and accessories into the case. Do not leave the shoulder rest or sponge attached to the instrument.  Make sure the bow is loosened.  Make sure the case is zipped and latched and stored in a safe place.
  • If you have to put your instrument down for any reason while practicing or playing, place it carefully back into its case, or if that is not possible, place it on its side in a safe place. Never leave your instrument laying flat on the floor.
  • If something “rattles” inside your instrument—STOP! It is probable that the sound post has fallen and will need to be re-set.  Call Day Violins immediately to arrange for the necessary repairs.

ALWAYS DON’TS

  1. Never store your instrument in direct sunlight
  2. Never leave your instrument in a hot or cold car
  3. Never store your instrument out of its case
  4. Never put tape or labels on your instrument (except the special tape used on fingerboards). The finish on a quality string instrument is softer than the finish found on furniture. This softer finish allows the wood on the instrument to “breath”.   Any type of adhesive will remove the softer finish of the string instrument.
  5. Never write on your instrument, bow or case.
  6. Never let your instrument dry out.
  7. Never put your instrument away dirty.
  8. Never try to tune your instrument without proper training.
  9. Never leave your instrument leaning up against something, or in a pile of other instruments
  10. Never store your instrument over or near a heating or air conditioning register

ALWAYS DO’S

  1. Always store your instrument in a place with reasonable humidity or use a Dampit or similar product.
  2. Always clean the instrument and strings and bow before putting it away.
  3. Always loosen the bow before putting it away. Putting it away tight will warp and ruin the bow.
  4. Always remove the shoulder rest/sponge before putting your instrument away in its case.
  5. Always check your instrument before playing/practicing. If anything seems wrong, call Day Violins before using the instrument.
  6. Always store your instrument in a safe place.
  7. Always remember that your instrument is valuable, and that you are financial responsible for its loss through damage of theft.