Always keep the instrument and bow in the case (or
cover) when not in use to prevent accidental damage.
Never expose the instrument to sudden changes in
temperature or humidity. Do not expose it to the sun.
Store away from radiators or hot air vents and do not
leave in a hot or cold car. Keep your instrument
protected against extreme temperatures-treat it as
you would a child or family pet. The humidity level should
be maintained in the 40-50% range, any lower and the
instrument is subject to open edges and cracks. Any
quality of instrument, student to professional, can
crack from poor care. The bow hair can also shrink
causing damage to the bow stick. Use an instrument
humidifier like a Dampit® and a case humidifier
such as The Precipitube®.
Wipe the rosin dust from all surfaces with a clean
cloth after each use to avoid buildup. Do not use
alcohol to clean the varnished surface as this may
remove the finish or damage the finish. Oil
based polishes should be used only sparingly and then
only if there are no open edges or cracks that the
polish could penetrate. The best polish is one that is
wax based and can be reversed. Cleaners and polishes
should be separate or you will end up polishing over
the existing dirt.
The bridge must always remain perpendicular to the
top of the instrument. Tuning at either end tends to
warp the bridge and, if not adjusted frequently, this
warping can become permanent. Ask your teacher or repairman
for assistance. If not frequently straightened, the
warp can become so severe that the bridge can break and the force
in the collapse can seriously damage the top of the
The top of the instrument absorbs
moisture during the summer and can puff up causing the bridge
to also push up and become too high. Likewise, during
the winter, the top of the instrument can flatten causing the strings to
become too close to the fingerboard. It may be necessary to have two
bridges, one low bridge for the summer and one higher
the winter. The E string on the violin and A
string on the cello should have some protection to
keep them from cutting down into the bridge.
Old strings become lifeless and as they get old they
can go "false" and require more tension to
keep in tune thus putting excessive pressure on the
instrument. . Replace them with fresh strings
approximately every six months if using the instrument
30 minutes a day. Remove and replace each string one
at a time.
If you are using steel strings: place the
ball end of the string into the tuner, then put the
other end of the string through the hole in the peg
and turn the peg so that the string winds over the peg
and toward the handle part of the peg--it should not
be forced against the peg box wall. Only stick a small
part of the string (approx. 1/4") through the peg.
If using a
synthetic gut string: when possible, put the peg end of
the string through the ball end of the string (forming
a lasso) and put this lasso around the prongs of the
tuner. This will prevent the breakage of strings at
the tuner (lassoing the string is not necessary on
most violin E strings or steel strings). Continue as above with the installation at
the peg end. It is always a good idea to put graphite
(pencil lead) in the nut groove when changing strings
to aid in the smooth passing of the string over the
Strings break - Strings today are manufactured to
such high quality that it is almost
impossible for a string to break without help. The following is a list of common
locations where strings break and their cause.
1. Breaks at
fine tuner: the string was installed incorrectly and the
tuner sides are pinching the sides of the string causing
it to break. See the instructions above for proper installation
of soft centered thicker strings.
2. Breaks at
the tailpiece slot: the string was installed into a tailpiece
whose slots are too tight for the string and is pinching
the sides of the string causing the string to break. Have a
repairmen adjust the width of the slot for proper clearance.
3. Breaks or
unravels at bridge: the bridge slot is either too deep or
too rough and the string is being pinched. Have a repairmen
adjust or replace the bridge.
4. Breaks or
frays in the playing area: the string can wear from
considerable use-- some players change their strings as often
as every 4 to 6 weeks due to the amount of playing time.
The more you play, small amounts of the metal are worn
away and the string gets thinner and can start to
fray or break. An uneven fingerboard can also cause this
wear, have a repairmen resurface the fingerboard. Sharp
fingernails or acidic skin can also eat through the metal
jacket of the string.
5. Breaks at
the nut: like the bridge, a rough or too deep notch in the
nut can cause fraying or breakage of the string. Have a
repairmen repair or replace the nut. Excessive tuning from
improper fitting pegs (they slip often) can also cause
Breaks between the nut and peg: In almost every case, this
breakage is caused by tuning the string too high. This is the
weakest part of the string, where it goes from metal to
thread wrapped, and an over-tuned string puts too much force
on the string; strings are only capable of being tuned a
couple of notes high.
where the string meets the peg: especially on the E and G strings, the string can get caught between the edge of the
peg box wall and the hole for the peg. Be sure to properly
wrap a string onto the peg so that the last winding does
not forcibly press against the peg box wall.
8. Breaks in
the windings on the peg: if the string hits the bottom of
the peg box, it can be worn through. Be sure to properly
wind the string without numerous layers over top of one
another. If the string still hits, than the instrument
should be taken to the repairman for more space to be
added under the peg for proper clearance.
Guard against tuners touching the top of the
instrument because they can seriously damage the wood or
the tuner becomes loose it can also rattle--see the
section on buzzing below.
Normal tuning can cause pegs and peg holes to go out
of round, this causes slipping and must be fixed by a
repairmen. Pegs can dry out causing, sticking, and can
usually be corrected using "LAVA" soap. It
is strongly recommended that "Peg Drops" or
chalk not be used as they can freeze a peg in place
and cause permanent damage to the peg box when an inexperienced person attempts to free it.
If you are ever unable to free a peg from the peg box
by simply turning the peg by hand, do not attempt to
free the peg--take the instrument to an experienced
repairman. Over 95% of the broken pegs we see are
caused by too much force applied to the peg. Applying
excessive pressure can also cause cracks to the peg
box or scroll. The amount of time for a repairman to
free the peg is negligible when compared to the amount
of time it may take to replace the peg or repair the
scroll or peg box.
CRACKS AND OPEN SEAMS:
Check your instrument regularly for cracks and open
seams. In any quality
of instrument excessive dryness can cause both cracks
and open seams, so humidify your instrument with an
instrument humidifier and, if possible, a case
humidifier--this is especially important in the winter
when the heat in your home will dry out the air. Have your repairmen glue
open seams and cracks as
soon as possible so they do not get worse. Do not
polish an instrument that has open cracks as this may
make any future repairs very difficult. A dependable
never charge you to check over your violin.
The sound post is the heart and soul of the
instrument and must be adjusted as the instrument
changes with weather conditions. It is not recommended
that the musician attempt to adjust their own sound
post- an inexperienced hand can cause serious damage
to the inside and top of the instrument. Always
release the tension of the strings if the sound post falls.
The bow hair should always be loosened after each
use to preserve the proper sweep and straightness of
the stick. As with the strings, the hair should be
changed approximately every 6 months. As hair gets old,
it stops producing a clear resonant tone. Hair may
also stretch or shrink with the weather. In the
winter, the hair can also dry out and
to too little humidity. Protect
your instrument and bow, humidify your case and
QUICK AND EASY
REPAIRS THAT YOU CAN DO IN AN EMERGENCY
All of these are for
emergency use only and a repairmen should look at the
instrument as soon as possible
The pegs do not fit: no matter what you do you cannot get
to hold. To tell if this is the case, take off the
string and see if the peg wobbles in the hole, if it
does - get professional help for the instrument.
The string hole is too close to the peg box
wall. When the string hole is too close, the peg
cannot be pushed
in far enough to hold tuning. Solution: pull the string
off, take the peg out, and drill a new small hole in the
peg (appropriately sized to match the string
thickness) and set the string back in place.
The peg may just need to be lubricated. - A little LAVA
brand soap (bar) put directly on the peg where it rubs
in the peg holes will do wonders for both slipping and
sticking pegs. Pegs also dry out due to too little
humidity during the winters. Protect your instrument;
humidifying your case will offer the best protection
against the pegs drying out.
the nut-the string has worn a groove in the nut down to
the fingerboard. Remove the string and put a drop of Crazy Glue in the
and add a pinch of Baking Soda. Continue until it has
been built-up enough and then, using a small round file,
smooth out the groove. This is a temporary solution as
it is not hard enough to last very long. In a real emergency, a thin
piece of leather or compressed
cardboard can be slipped under the trouble spot.
The string buzzes all the way up the fingerboard. The bridge
is too low or the fingerboard is warped, also check
the string windings. Take a piece of compressed
cardboard like the kind that comes inside a new shirt.
Cut a couple of thin strips and place them under the
bridge feet. Care must be taken to not let the sound
post fall--a little light pressure on the top of the
instrument above the
post should suffice.
A woody sounding buzz.- First check the chinrest and make sure
it is not touching the tailpiece. Next check all
around the edges to see if they are tightly glued. If
you find an open spot, put a slip of paper in the
opening to stop the rattle. Also check to make sure
there is no buildup of funk (most likely a hardened
rosin residue) in the "f" holes
at the points. Use a business card to clear the
metallic sound. Check the fine tuners and make sure
they do not touch the top of the instrument. If there seems to be a lot
of play in the threads of the fine tuner screw, remove the screw
candle wax, Lava soap, bees wax, or crayon to the threads and
reinsert. Also check to see if the little plastic tube
that comes on some strings is loose behind the bridge.
This plastic tube is a protector for the top of the bridge and
should be placed as such.
Most times the fingering tape applied to the
fingerboard causes buzzing. The fingerboard
has a slight curvature to allow the strings to
vibrate. With tapes applied, this curvature is compromised
and the tapes act like a fret. We at Lashof
Violins prefer to
use a Silver Sharpie® Metallic marker to apply dots between the strings as
this does not impede the strings from vibrating. The
can also be applied and reapplied easier and removed
with less damage to the instrument than tapes. Another
common problem with fingering tape is that the
adhesive breaks down and the tapes actually shift,
causing the student to play out of tune. The Sharpie®
marks do not in any way hurt the surface of the
fingerboard and we are comfortable enough to mark all
our stock bows with the same marker because of the
ease of removal.
If buzzing still persists
it could be a number of other things - see a repairmen
Fingerboard falls off.
Loosen the strings-In a pinch wet both gluing surfaces
with warm water, put together and tape the edges (on
the unvarnished portion of the neck) for
as long as possible. Tune up the instrument at the last possible
moment and remember to loosen the tension again when
you are done. Do not attempt to reglue or use glue
on the instrument, the wrong type of glue will
cause damage to your instrument and cost you more when
your repairman has to remove the glue and
repair/replace your fingerboard . See your repairmen
as soon as possible and when not using the instrument,
loosen the strings.
Eyelet in bow
is stripped. Remove
bow screw and pull frog off stick. Being careful not
to get the hair twisted, reinsert the screw in the
eyelet and pinch the side of the eyelet with a pair of
pliers. This will compress the threads and give you a
few more days of use. You can also stick a thin piece
of paper in the eyelet and rethread the screw-this
will take up some of the play in the threads.
Hit too many
strings while playing.
Your bridge is probably too flat. Put pieces of tape
on the bridge under the string until it is high enough
to work properly. As soon as possible, see a
has stripped its threads.
Rethread the brass nuts onto the tailgut-pinch with
pliers and burn the ends. Finish by adding a drop of Crazy
Glue to the threads.