MAINTENANCE AND CARE
Like most musical instruments, your string instruments requires maintenance occasionally. You should expect a few broken strings from time to time. It just happens with string family instruments. If the same string breaks often, have your repair person examine your instrument to make sure something is not out of adjustment.
Bows need to be rehaired every year or two depending on the amount of playing.
Because the instrument is made of wood and is held together with glue it is very susceptible to heat and humidity changes. Leaving your instrument in a car in the heat will often cause it to come apart or crack. If an instrument gets too cold, it can crack also. When transporting your instrument, keep it in the passenger compartment of the car, not in the trunk because the trunk can get very hot or very cold and cause serious damage.
Rosin is used on the bow to make it grip the strings. Dust from the rosin will collect on the fingerboard and on the top of the instrument. This rosin dust should be wiped off with a soft cloth regularly or it can build into a hard unsightly layer which will have to be professionally removed.
Playing your instrument can be a lot of fun! There are many styles of music, and a great variety of opportunities for musical performances are available. Playing in the school orchestra is just a beginning in the wonderful world of strings. Keep your instrument in good adjustment so that it will respond to your touch, then explore, experiment, experience the excitement of making beautiful music!
Reprinted from School Band and Orchestra magazine
Please visit them at www.sbomagazine.com
Guide to Buying a Bow
Proper care and maintenance of string instruments Compliments of Wm. LEWIS & SON
CARE OF VIOLIN, VIOLA, CELLO, OR BASS
Regular attention to the following details will help keep a string instrument in the best playing condition.
THESE ARE THINGS YOU CAN DO.
PROTECTION: Always keep the instrument and bow in the case (or cover) when it is not in use. Make sore the how is secured in proper position.
TEMPERATURE: Never expose the instrument to sudden changes in temperature or humidity. Do not expose it to the sun. When not in use, store it in a place with moderate humidity, away from radiators or hot air vents. Never leave an instrument in a car in extremely hot or cold weather.
CLEANING: Rosin dust should he removed after each playing. Use a soft cloth like flannel to clean the body of the instrument. To remove rosin accumulation on the strings in the bowing area, polish the strings lightly with Triple steel wool. D0 NOT USE ALCOHOL OR FURNITURE POLISH. It is a solvent and can damage the varnish.
THE BRIDGE: The feet of the bridge should always be aligned with the inner notches cut in the F-holes. It must be kept in a perpendicular position.
Tuning the strings tends to pull it forward. Check its position frequently. If neglected, the bridge may warp, even break. If it requires adjusting, grasp the bridge at both upper corners with the thumb and first fingers of each hand while holding the instrument firmly braced. Then gently move the top of the bridge to a perpendicular position. Or, ask your instructor to do it for you.
STRINGS: Old strings are lifeless, false, dull. Replace them with good fresh strings. The finest instrument cannot sound its best with poor strings. Put new strings on one at a time. Guard against the bridge being pulled forward while tuning new strings up to pitch.
STRING TUNERS: If your tuner has a lever under the tailpiece, guard against the lever touching the top of the instrument. This can seriously bruise the wood. To reduce the depression of the lever, merely turn the tuner screw to the LEFT. Then raise the pitch with the peg.
CHINREST: If the rest is loose, it may produce a buzzing sound. Fix the rest firmly by inserting a metal pin in the small hole in each chinrest bar. Turn the bars to tighten. Not too tight. Just enough to fix the rest firmly.
PEGS: Even normal tuning will cause both peg and peg hole to wear smooth. This causes slipping. To give the peg more grip apply ordinary white chalk. Sometimes a peg will “stick.” For that condition we recommend a lubricant developed in the Lewis Shop, Lewis Peg Dope. When pegs become seriously worn see your repairman.
MAINTENANCE OF THE INSTRUMENT – THINGS TO BE DONE ONLY BY YOUR REPAIRMAN
FINGERBOARD: Don’t let grooves develop under the strings. Grooves prohibit free vibration of the strings. Be sure the board has a sufficient concave dip. See your repairman. He will also check the grooves in the nut. They may be worn too deep.
SUMMER, WINTER BRIDGE: In warm weather the top of the instrument swells upward. This raises the bridge and lifts the strings too high above the fingerboard for comfortable playing. A lower bridge is required. In cold weather the top is at its lowest level. Then a higher bridge is required. Otherwise the strings will be too close to the fingerboard to permit free vibration. See your repairman.
SOUNDPOST: If the post was fitted during the cold weather it may be too short for summer use when the top raises. Conversely, if it was fitted in warm weather it may be too long for winter use when the top subsides. Unless the post fits properly, the tone will be disturbed. If it falls, or moves, loosen the string tension slightly, and ask you teacher or repairman or reposition it.
OPEN EDGES: Check your instrument regularly to note whether the top or back has become unglued from the ribs at any point. If so, do not neglect this. See your repairman.
CRACKS: Check periodically for cracks that may develop. Have a repairman glue the cracks as soon as possible. Keep all polishes away from open cracks.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE OF THE BOW
THE STICK: Always loosen the hair after each playing. This will preserve the sweep and straightness of the stick. Keep it free of rosin. Clean with a soft cloth after each use. The head of a wood bow is very fragile and can break with a light impact. Inmost cases the bow cannot be repaired and will have to be replaced.
THE HAIR: Bow hair becomes smooth from playing. Rosin will not restore its ability to grip the strings. When the hair begins to break it is time to have the bow rehaired. Worn out hair cannot draw a clear, resonant tone. Warm, humid weather causes hair to stretch. It may become too long to permit tightening to give sufficient tension to the stick. If so, see your repairman about shortening or re-hairing. Never touch bow hair with the fingers. Never permit oil or grease to touch it. Don’t use polish on the stick.
SCREW, EYELET: The screw passes through the eyelet which is attached to the underside of the frog. The threads in either, or both, may become worn. If so, the hair cannot be tightened. Your repairman can replace either part.
IVORY TIP: It is not merely ornamental. It reinforces the fragile bow head where the hair is inserted. If the ivory cracks or breaks at that point see your repairman for replacement of the ivory.
ROSIN: Use a fine grade of rosin for good tone. Apply it sparingly, evenly, the full hair length. Too much rosin will produce a gritty tone.