Violin & Cello Maintenance tips you need to know
How to properly take care of your violin & cello.
You have just bought a violin or cello. Now is time to learn important steps on how to take care of your strings instruments to ensure that they are properly maintained. (In the event that you don’t already have a violin/cello and are looking to buy one or rent one, probably the easiest thing is to go to our strings instrument store and have them size you for an instrument.)
Why this is important? On top of continuously getting a warm sound from the instrument, you will save money from repairing costs too at the violin/cello repair shop.
This complete guide for violin and cello maintenance includes the following chapters:
- 1 General Maintenance of Violin & Cello
- 2 Bow Maintenance for Violin & Cello
- 3 What do you need to take note if you are travelling with your cello or violin in Singapore
- 4 When do I repair my violin or cello in Singapore?
General Maintenance of Violin & Cello
Here are the 4 things that you should pay attention before and after you practice your violin/cello:
1. How often do I need to clean my violin or cello?
How often: Every time after you have finished your violin lessons or practice sessions. it is recommended that you wipe the surface of your violin and strings with a dry cloth (do not use wet clothes or wipes to clean your strings instrument).
Using what: You can use any dry cleaning cloth, but microfibre and dusting cloths are the most effective at removing unwanted dust from the instrument’s body, bow, and strings. (visit our strings instrument store or simply chat with us to enquire on the microfibre dusting clothes).
Where: You want to make sure you wipe the fingerboard, under the fingerboard, on the body of the instrument, between the sound holes, and last but not least, your strings.
Wiping your violin will prevent any dust from building up as well as protecting the violin’s strings from a sticky build-up of rosin. Rosin build-up can mar some varnishes and can make strings sound poor. If a bow is over-rosined, a grainy sound will result and rosin dust will be visible.
Never wipe rosin off the cello with just your hands, because the oils on your hands could transfer on to your bow.
If you found other stains, it’s generally best to take your string instrument to an experienced luthier who can advise on the best course of action.
Avoid using commercial, general purpose cleaners or polishes as these usually contain solvents, abrasives or waxes which can damage the instrument’s finish and dampen its sound.
After you have used it to wipe for a couple of times, please wash the cloth and hang it dry to ensure that it doesn’t accumulate the dust and rosin. Once there has been a significant build-up of rosin, you should replace your cloth.
2. Where should I store my violin or cello?
Classical violin and cello are made of wood. This is why drastic changes in the humidity and temperature of an environment are known to affect strings instruments.
The optimal temperature for cello or violin storage is 20 degrees celcius. As a rule of thumb, in order to keep your violin at a suitable temperature, just treat your instrument as the way you want to be treated. In other words, keep your violin at a place with temperature which is comfortable for you is the best way to prevent warping and cracks to the violin’s body.
Never leave your cello in the car on a sunny or especially cold day, as the extreme temperatures can crack the wood, damage the varnish, or cause seams to come unglued.
Humidity is also an issue that violinists need to consider. As violins are crafted from wood, they naturally exchange moisture with the surrounding air. For this reason, maintaining regular humidity levels is important for preventing warping.
It is recommended that violins are kept in environments with 60% humidity level. According to reports by the Singapore National Environment Agency, the humidity level in Singapore is normally between 65-100%. Yes, Singapore weather is relatively humid for the strings instruments.
This is why you are highly encouraged to put your violin back to the case after every practice. For cello students who use are using a bag case, we do understand that keeping the cello on a daily basis might make it less attractive to practice (read up on our guide: Guide on how to cultivate good practicing habits), this why we recommend getting a moisture absorber (like thirsty hippo) to ensure that the humidity level won’t be too high for your cello.
When storing the cello for a short amount of time (or in between use), it should be always be placed upright on a cello stand. Never lean your cello against a wall or place it on a couch, as this is where an accident commonly happen. If you plan on storing the instrument long-term, place it in a protective case to avoid any serious damage.
To prevent scratches to the cello’s finish, try to limit the number of times you remove the cello from its case. If you plan on playing frequently, use the cello stand in lieu of a case.
If you are students from other countries or bringing your violin and cello to a place where humidity levels should drop significantly, there are violin humidifiers available to prevent any damage to the instrument too. Humidifiers can either fit through the f-holes whilst the instrument is in the violin case or can be used to humidify the air in a whole room.
3. How often do I need to replace my violin/cello strings?
You should replace the violin’s strings every 12 months. However, this may vary depending on how often you play your violin. Making sure that your violin’s strings are relatively new will helps to maintain a bright and warm sound. You can always check with your violin teacher about this.
Replacing a violin’s strings may seem daunting at first, so if you’re a novice, you may wish to approach a professional at your local violin shop who can help you.
Violin strings can be bought from any good music shop. Here is a list of violin and cello shops we recommend in Singapore.
Check out our guide on How to Tune Your Violin or Cello Strings so that it won’t snap easily.
Bow Maintenance for Violin & Cello
It is often that students forgot that the bow needs as much care as the instrument itself. In this section, we will be talking about things you should be aware of so that your bow hair can last longer.
1. Clean your violin or cello bow as well.
Chances are you’re already aware that you should regularly clean the area under where you bow because the resin can build up. However, it’s just as equally important to clean the bow because of resin build up as well.
To properly clean your bow, wipe it down with a dry cloth after every practice session.
You should also wipe the wooden part of your violin bow (NOT the bow hair) before keeping it.
2. Loosen your bow every time after you play the violin or cello.
This is another thing we are surprised that not all violin teachers share with their students. Make sure to loosen the bow hair, every time after you practice. If you don’t do so for a long time, bow hair will be dropping at a much quicker rate.
If you notice that a few hairs are broken, don’t get overly concerned. Simply use scissors to cut the broken hairs near the frog. Do not pull on the hairs to remove them as you might risk pulling off other bow hair as well.
If there are more than just a few hairs that are loose or broken, you may need to take the bow into a Singapore Luthier to be re-haired.
You should never put the bow into the case with the hair still taut because you can create unnecessary tension against the bow, which can lead to problems like warping. However, be careful not to make the bow so loose that the hairs snag on the case. When you take the bow out to use it, tighten the hairs again, making sure not to over-tighten it.
Please ensure that the bow stick are still curved in when the bow is tightened. Student tends to tighten the bow too much. This is when the bow stick appear to be straighten.
Doing so will cut short the lifespan of the bow hair and even risk making your bow curved.
3. How often should I rosin my bow?
How often: Normally we would recommend rosining the bow every time before you play, after tightening the hair.
How much: If is a new bow (if you notice there are no sound projection when playing the violin), you need to apply it for around 30 seconds. However, if you often practice, then a few rubs will be sufficient.
Please be aware that if you notice that after just playing a few strokes and there is a layer of rosin residue on top of the violin or cello, this is a sign that the bow has too much rosin. So you should avoid more rosin for the next couple of practices. Too much rosin will cake on the strings and gum up the bow hair, which will make your violin tone sound harsh.
Make sure to store the rosin in its case or cloth when you’re done. (It should come together when you buy the violin or cello in Singapore
Consider getting your bow re-haired by a professional luthier in Singapore every year or two.
Beyond the day-to-day maintenance, you should also be checking your bow routinely for any signs of warping, cracks, or other damage. Catching these early on will help you avoid costly repairs if the damage is left untreated!
4. Violin bow is not a toy.
Avoid treating the bow like a toy or a tool. Are you one of them that uses the bow to switch on the TV or Air-cond? Are your kids playing the bow in a sword fight?
Rules of Thumb: if you wouldn’t use your violin to do something, then don’t use the bow either. Bows are as fragile as your violin and should be treated with as much caution as the violin itself.
Even if you’re practicing daily, always place your bow back in your violin case in between, instead of leaving it on the sofa or random places. Keeping it out increases the chances of accidents (especially if you have pets or kids rooming around!), and given the high humidity level in Singapore, it can be an issue for your strings instrument).
What do you need to take note if you are travelling with your cello or violin in Singapore
1. Taking MRT or Public Buses?
While you are at the MRT (or transit system if you are not residing in Singapore) or SMRT buses if possible, try to hold on to the strings instrument, instead of putting it on the floor.
This is because, without you realising it, the vehicle is actually vibrating constantly. This might cause a slight shifting of the bridge and pegs (especially if you are using just a soft case) in long term.
2. How to handle your cello or violin with care at outdoor.
When you are bringing your violin or cello outdoor, be careful not to bump it into anything. This is why we recommend you carry it, instead of backpacking it if you are in a crowded area. Depending on how hard the bump is, it can damage the varnish, crack the wood, break the bridge, or cause a seam to come unglued.
As the neck of the cello is the most fragile part, the damages done will be critical if you accidentally bump into the cello neck (compared to the body of the cello).
This is why always carry the cello with the neck pointing in front, within your vision. So if any emergency happens, you can quickly secure it to avoid devastating accidents.
3. Should I get a hard case for my violin or cello?
Depending on how often do you need to travel. If you commonly bringing the cello or violin to your classes then investing in a hard case would be a great idea. Afterall, the last thing you want is accident on your strings instruments and the repair cost in Singapore are relatively expensive.
While any cello case is better than not using a case at all, hard cases are preferred for their durability.
When transporting your cello in its case, make sure it’s securely fastened and supported inside the case so that it won’t knock around while being transported.
When do I repair my violin or cello in Singapore?
Common places needed attention: check the bridge, pegs, and soundpost.
Because of the fluctuating dry heat and cold temperatures, many players spend a lot of time tuning their instruments. The constant tightening and loosening of tension can shift the bridge and potentially warp it. The pegs also tend to shrink over time, which can lead to slipping.
Where can I repair or have a check on my cello or violin in Singapore?
If you suspect your cello isn’t playing its best, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a qualified repair technician at your local repair shop. They’ll inspect it and test it for any damage. With proper care and maintenance, your cello can provide you with a lifetime of beautiful music.
A clean violin is a happy violin. Use the tips above to maintain the health of your instrument. If you have questions or need guidance, consult Music Mood expert or your violin teacher.
Thank you for sharing and always look forward to see your blog post!
Glad that you love it. Keep your cello and violin safe. If you need to repair your violin, please feel free to contact us 🙂
Wow I did not know so much effort went into instrument maintenance! Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for sharing the tips.
Thanks for sharing the tips!