Taking care of your string instrument will insure its long life and may prevent costly repairs.
Though some adjustments and repairs should be left to a professional, here are a few tips to help keep it in top condition.
MONTHLY 4 POINT CHECK
CHECK FOR OPEN SEAMS
by lightly taping around the edges of the top and back.
CHECK BRIDGE to see if it is leaning forward or backward, and/or if it is warping.
CHECK FINGERBOARD to see if it is loose by slightly trying to lift end of it.
CHECK SOUND POST by sliding finger behind the treble foot of the bridge for bulge.
KEEP THE INSTRUMENT CLEAN
Use two soft cotton rags (such as an old T-shirt, handkerchief, or flannel cloth): one to wipe the rosin dust off the belly (be sure to get under the fingerboard and tailpiece) and bow, and the second to wipe the fingerboard and strings. Occasionally polish the wood with violin polish to restore the varnish’s luster. Your instrument will stay cleaner if you wash your hands before each practice and if you only handle the neck.
1. CLOTH FOR CLEANING THE STRINGS
2. CLOTH FOR CLEANING THE INSTRUMENT
The friction of the strings moving over the bridge may cause it to lean forward or backward. Graphite (or pencil lead) applied to the notches (under the strings) will keep the strings moving smoothly. Bass bridge adjusters should always have equal height and be adjusted with lowered string tension.
A properly positioned bridge is placed and centered on an imaginary line between the inner f-hole notches. In some cases, this is not possible or practical, especially with older instruments.
The back of the bridge (the side facing the tailpiece) should be positioned at a 90° angle with where the edge of the top meets the ribs. If not positioned as such (see above), there is danger of the bridge warping.
Check the profile of the nut on your instrument for a smooth transition of the strings to the peg-box.
Make sure the strings are no deeper than 1/2 of their diameter in the grooves of the
bridge and the nut.
Also, check if your strings are properly
wound on the pegs as this can cause
them to get loose.
Pegs slip in the winter and stick in the summer due to changes in climate and temperature. Peg compound or “dope” will help them turn easily, while chalk or peg drops helps them hold. If the peg(s) get loose, rewind the string, but never use too much force on the peg or you risk cracking the peg-box.
Replace your strings on average every 12 months. Salts, acids, dirt (from your fingers), and rosin from the bow, collect in the winding which will deteriorate the tone and response. Replace the string if the winding unravels, becomes frayed, or looses its brilliant tone. Inspect the strings at the nut and bridge.