You can easily buy a violin online. Even for learning the instrument, there are so many ways, including online tutorials and virtual classrooms. But one thing that most classes might not pay attention to would be violin care. When meticulously cared for, a well-built violin would last for hundreds of years. When you keep your violin sounding good through the years you would be able to preserve it in its best condition. It would be good as new when you have to hand it over to the next generation. So, how can you care for your violin so that it continues to deliver its best sound and performance for years?
A case is everything
Your violin case plays the most crucial role in violin care. There might be a free case that came along with your violin. There is no guarantee that this would be the best case that your violin can get. A sturdy case makes a worthy investment for anyone who owns a violin. Pick one of the right size. A case that is too big or too small when compared to your violin would not offer the intended level of protection.
The fit of the case matters the most when you have to carry your violin from one place to another. Besides the material durability, the case should also have a secure strap that holds the violin in place. If the violin is placed without a hold, movement within the case can also leave unsightly scratches. It can also affect the tuning of your strings. Then comes the padding in the case that absorbs minor shock.
Clean after use
One of the basic steps that go a long way in improving the life of your violin is to clean it after use. After every single session, be it practice or a live performance, take a few minutes to clean the violin and bow. Rosin dust should be cleared off the violin surface after every use. This could be on the timber or on the strings. Wipe down the whole instrument from top to bottom. Use a clean and dry cloth to do this. Make sure that it is a pill-free fabric like microfiber. This will prevent scratches on the surface. Microfiber will not fray the strings. Dust on the violin might continue to dull the finish of the varnish. Wiping this off after using the instrument would reduce the frequency of re-varnishing it.
To regulate the friction and to produce better sounds, violinists might use rosin on their bows. Using too much rosin might negatively impact the sound. It would also result in excess resin accumulating on the strings. When you wipe down the violin, spend some time to carefully clean the violin bow as well. This will ensure that rosin on the bow doesn’t affect the violin performance.
Be wary of the cleaners you use
Special violin cleaners are available. These cleaning solutions are specially formulated for delicate string instruments. These can be confidently used on the strings and the violin surface. Using other alcohol cleaners might affect the health of the strings and the violin body itself. Some harsh cleaners might also damage the varnish. To keep your violin looking new and sounding perfect you should invest in the right cleaning solutions. These can be used by spraying a little amount of the solution onto a microfiber cloth and wiping down the surface.
Too many temperature and humidity changes might not be good
Extreme temperature and humidity changes can be bad for your instrument. Remember that a major portion of this instrument is made of timber. As these are all different types of timbers, their contract and expansion rate would vary. So, your instrument might be vulnerable when it is subject to sudden ambient changes all the time. A lot depends on where you store your violin. Do not store it near radiators and other places where it gets too hot or too cold. There are also some temperature regulating cases available for use in areas with extreme seasonal temperature changes. To regulate the humidity levels you can use a humidifier. It would help in preventing the timber from drying out or feeling brittle in excessively dry conditions.
Seek a luthier’s advice
A professional inspection should be done periodically. Once or twice a year, you must remember to take your violin to the luthier. Even if you are good at tuning the instrument yourself, professional tuning always has its perks. The luthier would also inspect the condition of the instrument on the whole. If you need to replace the bow hair or violin string, you would soon get an early notice during this inspection. You can also combine professional cleaning with this inspection session. This will help in complementing your regular cleaning task. In the end, your violin would be restored to its formal glory.
Proper violin adjustments
Maintenance of your violin for its longevity also depends on the violin repair and care. From tuning the violin to handling quick repairs, you should be very careful about the parts you choose. You should also follow the right techniques.
1. Quality violin parts
It is not enough to choose the best quality violin. You should also pay attention to picking quality fittings. While most violin owners splurge on good quality strings, other parts are not given due importance. From the tailpiece to chinrest and pegs, every little part you choose should be of good quality. This will help in bringing down the maintenance requirements of your violin and extend its life. The size of these parts also matters as much. Large chinrests might hamper the sound quality. A heavy tailpiece might impact the violin’s tone. The material of the tailpiece can also influence the way your instrument sounds. Plastic would be cheaper, lighter, and easier to work with, in the early stages.
2. String tension
When you are adjusting the string tension or working on the pegs always hold the violin securely. Hold it by its neck without applying too much pressure. If you simply place the instrument on a table and make the adjustments without holding the neck, you weaken the neck area.
3. Bridge alignment
Some tiny aspects like bridge alignment can indicate whether your instrument is properly tuned. When the strings are under too much tension you might notice the bridge falling forward. Noticing this and tuning the strings immediately would improve your violin sound and extend the life of your strings.
4. Bow adjustments
While most people care well for their violin they might forget about bow maintenance. Remember to loosen the violin bow once you have finished using it for the session. The tension in the bow would have to be let out once in a while. This will prevent too much tension from damaging the bow hairs. Not doing this will shorten the life of your bow.
5. String and bow hair replacement
Sometimes you might not see visible wear and tear with your bow hairs. But bow hairs and violin strings would still need to be replaced periodically. This is mainly to prevent accidental breaking of the string or bow during a crucial session. The bow might have to be re-haired once in 2 years or more for players who use their violin a few hours a day. With strings, you might notice minor signs of wear. Do not replace all the strings at once as it might affect the bridge tension drastically.
6. Peg fitting
You might use your peg to tune the strings and then forget about them. The ease with which your peg moves influences how accurately you tune the strings. You can pick a good peg paste to keep your pegs well-fitted. If it is too loose then you might need to approach professional help in tuning the instrument.
Overall handling of the instrument
Along with all the above maintenance tips you should also work on proper handling of the instrument. Care, timely repairs, and careful handling are all important to keep the violin sounding as good as new through the years. Avoid sharing the instrument as much as possible. Make sure that you wipe off visible sweat marks from the instrument as and when you notice them. As a beginner, before you learn how to play the instrument, learn, and master how to hold it right. The right hold would help you get the best sound quality and maintain the instrument’s tuning. Make sure that you do not unnecessarily touch the strings or the varnished surface on your violin when your hands are sweaty. Keep a napkin close by and wipe your hands periodically.
On a final note Every time you handle your violin, make sure that you only pick the instrument after thoroughly washing your hands. Do not ignore regular care and cleaning of the instrument. Tiny steps go a long way in maintaining the condition of the instrument even if you are a beginner at playing it.