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Stringed Instrument Care and Maintenance Part 2

By Marisa Kobilan

Welcome to Part 2 of Instrument Care and Maintenance!  This time we’ll discuss some routine maintenance that is necessary for keeping your instrument in top condition. Just joining the conversation? Read Stringed Instrument Care and Maintenance Part 1.

Bow Hair: The hair on the bow needs to be replaced regularly. If you are unsure of how often to have the hair changed, it is best to consult your teacher to see what they recommend. Most students need to have their bow rehaired every six months to one year. Under extremely heavy use, the bow will need to be rehaired more frequently.

Strings: Over time, any brand or quality of strings will gradually lose their quality of tone and quick, sensitive response. Since these changes happen slowly, many players do not notice them taking place. If you’re unsure whether your strings need to be replaced or not, it is best to ask your teacher or local music shop. When replacing strings, it is best to replace the entire set, rather than only a few of the strings. This will ensure the most evenness in response and tone. It is a good idea to save the most recent older set of strings to use as an emergency backup set. The time between changing strings depends greatly upon the type used, the playing style, and how long the strings have been played.

Case: It is normal for the instrument case or bag to accumulate some amount of wear and tear. Since the case is designed to protect the instrument, it is important to inspect it regularly and to make sure it is still in good enough shape to continue protecting your instrument. The case handles, straps, latches, and zippers should be checked often, and replaced if necessary. After several years is it often necessary to replace the case or bag.

Bridge: The bridge often needs to be replaced several years after the purchase. This part of the stringed instrument is under a great deal of pressure when the instrument is under tension. The bridge can often bend or warp. If this happens, the bridge can be replaced by a qualified luthier. If you happen to move to a new area, the climate changes can cause the wood of the whole instrument to shift and change somewhat. This makes a whole new setup and some important adjustments necessary. In certain parts of the country, the seasonal climate changes can make it necessary to have two or three different bridges that are switched out during different times of the year.

General Setup: It is always a good idea to take your instrument to a qualified luthier every few years to have it inspected and adjusted if necessary, similarly to having a car tuneup. You will get the most enjoyment and best performance out of your instrument if it is kept in top condition. If you have any questions or need more specific advice on care and maintenance, feel free to contact the Kennedy Violins staff.