How To Care for Your Instrument
Humidity: Understanding the effects of humidity on an instrument is extremely important. During the winter months or in a very dry climate it is important that humidity be kept at least at 35% (50% is ideal). Instruments will crack if subjected to a very dry atmosphere and will have poor sound quality. Always keep your instruments away from heating devices. The use of a power-type humidifier is ideal. However, the type of humidifier which can be placed directly in your case or instrument (such as Boveda, Oasis or Dampit) is of some help if the case is kept closed when the instrument is not in use. In a damp climate or during the summer months, try to keep your instrument in an air-conditioned room where the humidity is lower.
Temperature: Do not leave your instrument in a closed car or in a room where the temperature is very high. Intense heat can damage the varnish and even melt the glue which holds the instrument together. Allow some time for your instrument to adjust to temperature changes (such as when transporting an instrument from the cold into a warm room). Rapid changes in temperature can cause cracks.
Pegs: Do not force a peg that will not move easily. To avoid problems, use a peg compound such as W.E. Hill and Sons peg dope. Consult a repair workshop to remove stuck pegs.
Fingerboard: It is natural for grooves to develop on fingerboards from playing. An instrument’s fingerboard should be checked periodically to determine if it needs “dressing” (this is where the fingerboard is planed to remove the grooves).
Bridge: Some players need two bridges for their instrument: one for the winter and one for summer. A proper fit and arch is most important. We suggest that a repair person make this change for you. Periodically, you will have to pull your bridge back to prevent it from warping. We are happy to show you how to do this.
Soundpost: Do not try to adjust the soundpost yourself; you could damage the top of your instrument. If the soundpost should fall, loosen the tension on the strings immediately and contact your repair person to have it properly set up and adjusted.
Polish: After you have finished playing, use a soft cloth to wipe any loose rosin from the strings. Occasionally use a polish and cleaner. It is important that excessive polish residue not be left on the varnish.
Strings: We gauge all of our strings and will suggest to you the proper brand and gauge for your instrument.
General Checkups: Every six months, have your instrument looked at by a professional repair person to check for open seams, cracks, and proper alignment of the bridge and soundpost.
How To Care for Your Bow
Rehairing: Reasons to rehair a bow include:
• Hair is too long or too short
• Hair is dirty
• Hair is thin or broken
• Wedges are coming loose
• Poor performance
Always have your bows worked on by someone knowledgeable about bows. Bows are extremely fragile and they require skilled and experienced handling.
Bow hair is very sensitive to moisture. When the humidity is high the hair will be longer than when the air is dry. It is important that the hair not be too long, as this will affect the balance of the bow and damage may result from tightening too much. Long hair also exposes more of the stick to thumb wear. If the hair becomes too short, it is best to have it rehaired for the correct climate or season.
Brass Eyelet: Have the eyelet checked every time you have your bow rehaired. If the bow hair will not tighten the eyelet is likely the problem. To help avoid replacing the eyelet, use a bow lubricant periodically.
Tip Plate: Aside from its decorative function, the tip plate protects the fragile head of your bow. The tip plate should be checked periodically to make sure it is not cracked or loose. When replacing a tip plate it is important to maintain the aesthetic integrity of the bow, especially that of a valuable bow.
The Shaft (Stick): Even the finest French bows will at times require straightening. Leave this to a skilled bowmaker and repair person. Cracks in the stick or frog should be tended to as soon as possible. The longer they are allowed to remain open, the more difficult they become to repair. Broken heads can usually be repaired with no ill effect on the playing qualities, although breaks like this will drastically impact market value.
Frog: Check occasionally to see that the pearl slide, eyes, etc., are in good order. A worn pearl slide allows erosion of the surrounding wood. A pearl eye should be replaced before this occurs. Sometimes, the frog becomes difficult to move up and down the stick. Many things can contribute to this: irregularities in the screw, the eyelet, the fit of the screw and button to the stick, dirt, rust, or adjustment. Most of these problems are easily corrected; a few require more extensive work, such as bushing and redrilling the end of the stick. It is important that the frog not be too loose on the stick as the frog can easily be damaged if there is any side-to-side play.
Rosin: There are a number of very fine rosins available on the market. We can suggest to you the most popular brands for players of your instrument. During the summer months or in a damp, humid climate, use a light rosin which contains little wax. A dark rosin is best during the winter or in a dry climate. We carry both types year-round.