instrument care

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Information related to taking care of your instrument

The violin bridge - what every player should know

Violin bridgeIn my workshop I often see violins with problems that could have been avoided if the player knew how to spot potential issues earlier. This is particularly true for the bridge -- that crucial piece of wood that holds the strings up. This article explains the functions of the violin bridge and how to spot potential problems early.


How to clean a violin

Violin cleaningWhat is the best way to clean your violin? This is a question that I often encounter. Most players only want what is best for their violin. They are faced with a myriad of 'cleaners' and 'polishes' sold by music stores and violin makers. The answer to the question is deceptively simple and might surprise you.

The best and safest way to clean your violin is simply by wiping it after every playing session with a soft, dry rag! If you follow this simple routine, you will never need any fancy preparations or polishes.


Caring for Your Bow

This article is by Peter Zaret and can be found here. It gives some very good advice on day-to-day bow care.

Bows are strong yet fragile implements and should always be handled gently. In wooden bows, the tip is particularly vulnerable to cracking. A bow belongs in a case when not being used, and most importantly, always loosen the hair of the bow when it is not in use, so that the stick is touching the hair.

The bow should not be used on anything or for anything other than the strings of a stringed instrument (ie. don't tap your music stand with it). There are some places in music where it calls for tapping the stick on the strings. This is called "col legno". If the bow is valuable even this should be avoided. (I used to tap the string with the ivory part of the tip). That usually satisfied the conductor. If the bow falls on the tip when it is tightened there is a very good chance the head will break. Even if it falls on the endscrew and the bow is tight the bow can break. Breaks in a bow are much more difficult to repair than cracks in a violin. Unlike the violin the bow loses most of its value, and the break is far more likely to open up again.


What every string player should know about pegs

This article is by Eric Meyer and appeared in Strings and it gives some good advice about pegs and how to maintain them. The original can be found here.

“Pegs don't get a lot of respect,” says Eric Meyer, a Portland, Oregon, craftsman whose handmade fittings grace some of the world’s great instruments. “People think of them kind of like tires. They wear out and you throw them away.”

Pegs may draw little attention when they do their job well, but there’s no ignoring them when they won’t turn, refuse to stop at the right place, or, worse yet, or let go altogether. And, like tires, if one pops at the wrong time—say in the middle of an audition—the results can be, well, spectacular, though not life-threatening.

Recalcitrant pegs are not only a vexing nuisance; left unattended they can lead to serious damage that will diminish the value of your instrument. Luckily, a little understanding will go a long way toward staying in tune.


Bitten by the bug

I recently had a bad experience when I rehaired a bow for a client just for her to bring it back after about a month with several hair chewed off by carpet beetle larvae. This is normally not a problem with active players, since the little critters hate light. But if a bow is left in an old case for any length of time they will take their chance. I therefore decided to post an article on the subject and came across this one at Johnson String Instruments' website.


Guide to choosing and using strings for violins, violas and cellos

With the large selection of strings available nowadays, it is becoming increasingly difficult for a string player to choose the right strings for his/her needs. And with rising costs and economic woes experimentation is also not a realistic approach. I came across this guide that might be useful to narrow down your list of potential string choices. This article is by Richard Ward of Ifshin Violins in Berkeley California.  It first appeared in Strings Magazine several years ago and has been updated and posted on the Ifshin Violins site at


Caring for your instrument

Here is an article written by violinmaker David Gusset that describes basic instrument care for the average player. In my experience very few players know the basics and unknowingly abuse their instruments daily. He discusses the bridge, strings, cleaning, pegs, and cases, amongst other things. 

Instrument owner's manual

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