Lazar’s Early Music
425 N. Whisman Rd., Ste. 200
Mountain View, CA 94043
Before you start
Puchalski vielles are
finished with oil. They can be wiped off
with a damp cloth. If the finish dulls
over time, wipe on some oil such as almond oil, let sit for a couple of hours,
then wipe off the excess with a soft cloth.
This is best done with the bridge removed and the tailpiece pulled up
out of the way of the soundboard. Mark
the position of the bridge, as well as the side that faces the tailpiece, to
make sure you replace the bridge properly.
String Instrument Care Summary
- When you are not
playing your instrument, keep it in its closed and latched case.
- In the winter,
use a humidifier.
- Don’t cook it.
- Don’t freeze it.
- Keep it clean.
- Don’t drop it;
hold it by the neck only.
- Use the shoulder
rest properly (for violins/violas).
- Keep the bridge
- Lube the pegs.
- Take care of the
bow. Loosen the hair when you are not playing and have it rehaired once a year, or as needed.
- Only allow
qualified technicians work on your instrument.
Best Care Practices
not in use, the instrument should be kept in its closed and latched
case—and this means during rehearsal breaks too! If small
children have access to the case it should be locked; however no lock will
keep a determined thief or vandal from opening your case. If the case
cover has a zipper, remember to unzip it all the way—otherwise the zipper
will fail prematurely.
of temperature or humidity are not good for instruments. Rapid changes in
humidity can cause open seams, cracks in the finish, and cracks in the
wood itself. During dry humidity periods a tubular instrument
humidifier should be used. Please refer to instructions for its use,
below. Excessive humidity is also a problem, but it is more difficult to
control—keep your instrument out of the basement in the summer.
leave your instrument in a hot car or you will get a big surprise! The temperature
inside a car directly in sunlight can exceed 150° F. This is also why you
should never store any musical instrument in the attic. The varnish can be
damaged and instruments assembled with improper glue can literally melt
apart. Conversely, a cold violin can be problematic as well. If your
instrument gets below 40° F, allow it to warm up gradually in its case
before you remove it. If an instrument warms up too fast the result is
similar to the above humidity problems.
wipe the rosin off of your instrument after you have finished playing. Accumulated
rosin can damage the finish. Use a soft 100% cotton cloth like an old
non-terry dishtowel or part of an old sweatshirt. If rosin cannot be
removed, take your instrument to a qualified repair person where the rosin
will be chemically removed. I no longer will sell or give formulas for
violin cleaner because cleaners that actually work can often cause
problems in inexperienced hands. If your instrument looks dull or covered
with fingerprints you may use a commercial violin polish; however, be
aware that these products contain wax and many of them do not dry
thoroughly. Always apply sparingly and remove as much polish as possible
with a soft cotton cloth. If the finish prints easily, then there is still
too much polish on the surface.
your instrument by the neck only. If you have a fine instrument, the
acids and oils in your perspiration can quickly wear away the varnish.
Touch the top as little as possible. If you use a shoulder rest (most
players use one today) be sure to attach it and remove it safely, placing
the body of the violin against your torso and holding the neck in your
left hand. Attach the rest with your right hand. That way no one can knock
the violin out of your hand in the typical frenzy of a rehearsal. If the
shoulder rest has latex covered feet, replace the latex when it becomes
cracked and dry.
sure to keep your bridge straight. The best bridge will warp if it is not
maintained. Your teacher or repair person will show you how to do this.
your pegs stick during high humidity and you cannot move them do not force
them or attack them with pliers! You could crack or break off the peg
box. Take the instrument to your repair person, as he or she knows how to
loosen them safely. Use lava soap or commercial peg dope to lubricate
loosen your bow hair when you are finished playing. Be aware that
humidity has an effect on the length of the hair. Sometimes during the dry
season you will not be able to loosen the hair all the way. If it is a
little too tight do not worry, but if the hair is not tight enough to
play, take it to a repair person and have the bow rehaired.
When not actually playing always hold your bow at the frog with
the tip pointing up; do not use it as a pointer, a cane, or a sword;
and certainly do not bang it on a music stand to applaud a soloist! Also,
do not over rosin. If you had enough rosin on your bow yesterday when you
finished practicing, there is no reason to add any today. Have your bow rehaired at least once a year.
- If you have a
problem with your instrument, take it to a competent repair person. Be advised that
the vast majority of music stores do not have a qualified repair person
even though they advertise repairs. Before you entrust your instrument to
anyone, be sure to inquire about his or her qualifications. Be sure to
examine your instrument frequently for any problems—warped bridge, open
seams, cracks, etc. Small problems do not become big ones unless they are
using humidifiers: Dampits and Humitrons
indoor relative humidity in much of the US often falls far below safe
levels for string instruments during the winter months (Nov. to April).
The use of a tubular humidifier greatly reduces the detrimental effects of
dryness (open seams, cracks, low string height, etc.).
with cold water. Place the humidifier in the stream and squeeze water
through the holes into the sponge inside. Remove it from the stream and
squeeze out the excess water. Dry off the outside. Water should not drip
from the humidifier—it should feel like a piece of limp spaghetti. Over-filled Humitrons
and Dampits can cause major water damage inside
your instrument. Provided instructions seldom warn against this problem.
the humidifier in the lower left f-hole. Be careful of the point on the
f-hole when removing the humidifier. The instrument must be in its case
for the humidifier to function.
humidifier should be rinsed and refilled every day, since you are not
putting that much water in it in the first place.
- If tap water has
a high mineral content you will need to replace the humidifier once a
year. Use of distilled water will greatly increase its life.
Adapted from The Violin Shop of Santa Fe