Useful Tips

Tuning/Maintenance Guide:
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Violin/Viola Maintenance & Cleaning

The life span of a violin family instrument directly correlates to how well it is taken care of. The daily ritual of cleaning and the proper storage of an instrument are crucial to its longevity and playability. Always wipe down an instrumentís strings with a soft, dry cloth after it is played. There will be rosin from the bow left on the strings and rosin dust underneath the strings on the body. This will build up and degrade the integrity and resonance of the strings if not wiped down, as well as leave a nasty buildup on the body. Also, always loosen the tension on the bow after use. Not doing this could cause the bow to warp or break over time.

Violin Storage

Excessive humidity and dryness are archenemies of violins. A good balance between the two is important for good violin health. Dry weather might cause cracking in the wood and finish whereas extreme humidity and heat could cause the varnish to bubble. It is best to keep the instrument indoors in an air-conditioned room. If you donít have the luxury of AC, an interesting trick is to keep a wet paper towel in a punctured plastic bag in the violin case. This will act as a humidifier and keep the violin safe. Never leave a violin in a car, as the heat will be devastating to it. Because it is easy to damage a violin, keep the instrument in a closed case after it has been played. A violin that's rarely used also needs its case opened frequently to prevent the appearance of carpet beetles, which destroy bowhair. Violins are delicate instruments that can be greatly injured by the slightest mishap. Following these simple rules can keep a violin around for a lifetime or longer.

Polishing a Violin.

Violins are much more sensitive than other stringed instruments and as such they need a bit more care. We recommend polishing a violin not more than once or twice a year. Polishing the violin will only help it to look better; it will not enhance the playability or sound. Otherwise, just keep the violin dry and dust free with a soft cloth. Use violin polish when ready but be careful NOT to get any polish on the strings or the bow. Getting polish on either of these will damage the items.

Changing a Fine Tuner Tailpiace

Changing a fine tuner tailpiece is an easy job for our violin family instruments. First, remove the strings on the violin and simply remove the existing tailpiece and tailpiece hanger. Line up the end of your new fine tuner tailpiece to the bottom of the saddle. Thread the ends of the tailpiece hanger, or tailgut, through the holes at the bottom of the tailpiece. Fasten the screws and collars to the hanger ends and adjust evenly. Then fit the tailpiece hanger around the endpin groove. The lower saddle bears the weight of the tailpiece so adjust the screws so that the saddle is high enough for the tailpiece to clear the belly of the instrument. Now the violin is ready to be restrung and enjoyed. In just a few simple steps you are on your way to playing again.

 Applying Rosin to a Bow.  

Before applying rosin to a violin bow, be sure that the rosin cake has some powder on the surface. If there isnít any powder on the surface, scrape a coin along the surface to give texture to the cake. Making sure that the bow hair is taught, rub the rosin gently along the bow hair from the frog to the top of the bow. Do this 25+ times if the bow is new, 4+ times if it is not. Be careful not to touch the bow hair with your hands when putting rosin on, as the oils in your hand will damage it. Put the bow to the strings and play a few open strings. If there is any slippage with the bow, or if little sound is being produced, it needs more rosin. A properly rosined bow will bring a very clear, expressive tone from the violin.


Cleaning & Oiling Valves.

The first step in setting up a trumpet is to clean and oil the valves. To do this, unscrew the top cap of the first valve. Then carefully remove the piston inside and place it off to the side on a soft towel. Unscrew the bottom cap of the first valve and place it on the towel as well. Repeat with the second and third valves. Remove the main tuning slide and the tuning slides for each individual valve. Then place these slides off to the side on the towel. Rinse the trumpet body with mildly soapy distilled water (not tap water), making especially sure to thoroughly clean inside the valve casing to remove any residual metal fillings from manufacturing. Rinse away the soap with regular distilled water.

Dry the outside of the trumpet by patting it down with a soft towel and then polish away any water marks with a soft, dry cloth. Next, wash the silver pistons, bottom valve caps, and tuning slides (inside and outside) with soapy distilled water. Avoid getting the felt and/or cork on the finger buttons wet. Rinse with regular distilled water and allow the valves, tuning slides, and inside of the trumpet to completely air-dry before reassembly. When all the parts are dry, screw the bottom valve caps back on. Apply several drops of valve oil to the inside valve casing and the piston valve.

Return the piston to the casing by lining up the notch inside the valve casing with the plastic runner at the bottom of the spring on the piston. If necessary, slowly turn the valve until it clicks into place. Replace and tighten the valve cap. Repeat these steps with the two other valves and pistons but be sure to put them back in their regular places. The trumpet will not play correctly if the valves arenít in their original positions.

Inserting the Mouthpiece.

Before the trumpet is ready to play the mouthpiece must first be installed. This is a simple step but make sure to GENTLY slide the mouthpiece into the receiver. Then twist it lightly to the right to make sure it is seated correctly. Do not force the mouthpiece in with a palm or fist as it will make the mouthpiece stick and very difficult to remove. You will want to take the mouthpiece out for daily cleaning as well as storing the trumpet in its case.

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