Whether you're just starting out or have played for years, we all make mistakes in the care of our violins. While it's sometimes out of a lack of knowledge, we can also just get lazy or complacent.
It could start with neglecting to wipe down your instrument after a practice session. A person might think, "Oh, a few days won't hurt it." Then, those days turn into weeks. Before you know it, you have a difficult-to-clean build up of rosin dust on the fingerboard and body of your instrument!
But, not cleaning our violins is not the only way we neglect our instruments. Here are five common violin care mistakes people make.
Not Keeping Your Case Safe
It's not enough to just place your violin in its case. All too often, people overestimate the protection value of a case. Instruments can still be broken if someone trips over and falls on your case. Your violin is also still subject to damages when the case is left in too hot or too cold temperatures.
While some violin cases provide great protection from the elements, it's best to keep cases out of the rain and other potentially hazardous conditions. As our Fiddlershop luthiers said, "Keep away from any moisture!"
Not Checking the Bridge After Tuning Strings
Bridges will get worn over time; it's extremely necessary to check bridge placement before and after tuning a string instrument.
Our Fiddlershop luthiers explained, "The correct inclination is very important or the bridge can break or fall easily which can cause damage to the instrument."
Sometimes, we forget to check if our bridges are leaning, especially if we have to tune frequently due to weather changes or new strings.
Using the Wrong Products to Clean the Violin
"We’ve seen customers use wrong products to clean their instruments," our Fiddlershop luthiers said.
Bad cleaning products will damage the varnish over time.
The safest bet is to wipe your violin down after each playing session with a dry, microfiber cloth, and bring your violin to a luthier for professional cleaning and polishing at least once every year or so.
Never use solvents or hot water to clean the violin! These liquids will damage the varnish.
Touching the Body of the Violin
As a beginning student, you may remember your teacher telling you to take your left hand off the fingerboard and hold the shoulder of the violin, so you could focus on bowing only.
While this is OK for a short period of time, in general, we want to avoid touching the body of our violins. Our hands have oils and moisture that will begin to damage the varnish. It's best to hold the violin at the neck.
Not Taking Your Violin to the Doctor
Whether it's a car, a house, or your own body, you want a professional trained in keeping those vessels healthy and running for a long while regularly checking in.
The same goes for your violin. If you don't take it to a luthier for regular check-ups, small issues will grow into large, unfixable problems.
Our Fiddlershop luthiers recommend taking your violin in for an adjustment at least twice each year. This will keep your violin going for more than a lifetime.
The above tips apply to all string instruments.