- Max Kuehn
If you are a beginner violinist, you may be wondering how to clean violin. Although it may seem daunting, cleaning your violin is quite simple. In this article, we will show you how to do it in just a few easy steps.
How To Clean A Violin
Cleaning A Violin, Viola, Or Cello
First and foremost, remember that it’s preferable never to have to clean your instrument thoroughly; simply washing your hands before playing will go a long way toward ensuring that it stays clean.
It is also good to give it a quick cleaning with a clean, dry cloth before placing it back in the case. However, rosin build-up and the effects of heavy practice (we’re expecting the best!) indicate that your instrument may benefit from a light clean over time.
Cleaning your violin using a dry, lint-free cloth is the best method. Lightly wetting the cloth with water or perhaps a tiny touch of salvia are your best options for really obstinate spots.
Clean carefully, checking for any varnish color coming off on the cloth: if you detect this, stop immediately! Because new student instruments have a thick layer of varnish that won’t budge when cleaned, they can take a bit more effort as time goes on. Given that these are frequently the instruments that require the most assistance, this is a significant design element!
Some instruments have exceptionally soft varnish that is more susceptible to cleaning; if this is the case for your instrument, you will notice that the varnish is more prone to dents, scratches, and chips. In its more extreme forms, soft varnish might appear to collect dirt, resulting in a slightly sticky top layer of a deeper color in some areas.
Instruments with exceptionally soft varnish and instruments of great value are best left to the luthiers. Never use polish or any other chemical on your instrument; this is a task best left to the luthiers.
How To Clean Violin Strings
Your bow’s rosin will build upon the strings over time, preventing them from resonating correctly. Another sign that it’s time to clean is the appearance of a white coating on the strings.
Rosin can be cleaned with a soft, dry cloth in the same way as the instrument is – this is one of my least favorite duties in the shop because it often produces a terrible screeching sound! You’ll see what I mean if you try it… It is not suggested to use alcohol or any other chemical on your strings, even when they are off the instrument.
Rosin can also accumulate on the underside of your bow, resulting in a sticky white residue. If this bothers you, a soft, dry towel can be used to remove it.
How To Clean A Chinrest On A Violin Or Viola
The chinrest is an instrument area that is frequently overlooked during cleaning, although it can become pretty filthy over time. Because it comes into contact with your face, it’s crucial to maintain the chinrest clean by rubbing it with a clean towel after each game.
Wiping your chinrest and strings before putting your instrument in its case can help to ensure that your strings last longer and that your chinrest stays clean.
If the chinrest has to be cleaned more thoroughly, we recommend removing it from the instrument and cleaning it with a cloth saturated with hot, soapy water. Dry it thoroughly, waiting until the cork on the bottom is dry before reattaching the chinrest to your instrument.
As a side aside, keeping the chinrest clean can help violinists and violists avoid the uncomfortable red mark that appears on their necks. If the chinrest is irritating, consider covering it with a cloth, attempting a chinrest with a different fit, switching to a chinrest made of a different material, or switching to one with titanium barrels.
How To Clean The Fingerboard Of A Violin
Grime and rosin can quickly accumulate on the fingerboard of your violin. Due to the visible obstruction of the strings, keeping the fingerboard clean can be tough; therefore, it’s worth setting aside some time now and then to give it some TLC.
By loosening the tension of the strings one at a time, you can clean the violin’s fingerboard. To release tension, use the pegs and gently place the string on top of the one next to it. The exposed area of the fingerboard can then be cleaned thoroughly with a dry towel. Rep this procedure until the fingerboard is spotless.
It’s vital to go slowly here, even if it’s tempting to loosen all the ties at once. The bridge and soundpost are kept in place by releasing some tension from the strings one at a time while the other strings hold the bridge and soundpost in place.
Old stickers on student instruments frequently leave a gummy residue on the fingerboard, which can be cleaned using a minimal amount of adhesive cleaning applied with extreme caution to avoid getting any on the violin’s body.
This is a strategy I would only advocate for modern student instruments; a more valued instrument should only be exposed to cleaning chemicals in a luthier’s workshop.
Hand Gel With Alcohol And String Instruments
In recent months, we’ve observed a few devices that have come into contact with hand gel. While excellent hygiene is important right now, hand sanitizer contains alcohol, which is particularly destructive to varnish and should be kept away from your instrument.
Because alcohol evaporates quickly, we recommend using a hand sanitizer that dries quickly on your hands and ensuring that this happens before touching the instrument.
To avoid inadvertent drops, make sure you don’t apply the hand gel anywhere near your instrument! Alcohol is also included in aftershave and perfume, so make sure it’s dry before picking up your instrument to perform.
Violin Maintenance Habits on a Daily Basis
The violin is a sensitive musical instrument, as we all know. Apart from knowing how to clean your violin properly, these violin maintenance tips and tricks will help keep your string instrument in tip-top shape.
Temperature changes, physical damage, inappropriate cleaning practices, and dangerous commercial cleansers are just a few things that can ruin a violin’s tone. I’ve put together a checklist to guarantee that your violin is well-protected.
Use A Soft Cloth To Dust Your Violin Regularly
The best thing you can do to protect your violin is to make it a habit to clean it after each practice session. Although it may be a little trivial task, irregular cleaning causes most violins to lose their sound quality. I propose using two microfiber cleaning cloths: one to wipe the rosin and the other to clean the rest of the violin.
Try not to clean everything with a single cleaning cloth. If you wipe away the rosin and dust with the same material, you risk spreading it to other violin components.
Untangle the Bow
Remember to loosen the bow after each practice session to keep it in the finest possible condition.
If you pull the hairs from the stick with your bow tight, they will fall out. Furthermore, it will eventually cause the bow to tilt to one side or perhaps break at the point!
Use Peg Paste Only When Necessary
Peg paste, also known as peg compound, is used to aid in the smooth turning of pegs that have become stuck or unable to stay in place. It simplifies and improves the precision of tuning pegs. Rub some peg paste compound on the peg shaft to aid in smoother spinning. Use only a small quantity where the peg meets the pegbox, and use it sparingly.
Pay Attention to the Temperature
A violin should be kept at a temperature of 15 to 20 degrees Celsius (60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit).
Subtle changes in the alignment and structure of your violin might cause variations in sound production or even harm the instrument as wood expands and shrinks. Your violin’s tune may also be affected by the adjustments.
As a result, you should never leave your violin in direct sunlight, as high temperatures can cause uneven expansion and warping of your stringed instrument. Also, avoid storing your instrument in a cold atmosphere. Extreme temperatures may damage the wooden elements of your violin, but they may also cause the strings to break more quickly.
The humidity level for a violin should be between 40 and 60 percent.
You can control humidity in two ways: in the room where the instrument is stored or in the case. Remember always to put the violin back in the case when you’re through playing if you’re managing humidity in the violin case.
If you like to control the humidity in your room, keep a humidifier in your violin case when traveling during the dry months. Dampit is a popular humidifier. Fiddlershop, Thomann, Amazon US, and Amazon UK all have it.
Maintenance Is Suggested
You might be wondering how often your violin should be cleaned. You don’t have to follow the entire cleaning technique outlined in the first section of this article every day. Cleaning with professional cleaners and polishing should be done only when necessary. It depends on how much you use your instrument, so keep an eye on it and choose the correct time.
You might potentially complete additional steps on a quarterly or annual basis. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Cleaning or rehairing your bow hair
It’s not challenging to clean bow hair, but it’s much easier to rehair than clean it. Some people wash it with soap and water, but it never gets as clean as when they first got it. Bow hair can also channel water into the head and frog, producing complications like warping, so be cautious if you decide to do so.
Some people enjoy rehairing their bows every few weeks, others every few months and still others go years without doing so — it all depends on where you live and how often you use the bow. We recommend that you keep an eye on your bow, especially how much hair remains.
It’s time to rehair if the hair is filthy or readily breaks. Additionally, if the seasonal humidity difference where you live or travel is so severe that your hair gets too short to loosen or too long to tighten, you’ll need to rehair it during the wet and dry seasons.
Pay a luthier a visit once a year.
Even if you keep your violin clean and secure it with a good case, seeing a luthier once a year is the best way to ensure it’s still in good condition. Experienced luthiers can take precautions to ensure that your violin’s tone is retained. They may also clean your violin using the best cleaning tools available.
Is It Ok To Use Olive Oil To Clean My Violin?
Whether your varnish is safe or not depends on how old or new it is. It is believed that olive oil is safe to use only on new varnish and not on old varnish. Olive oil would be suitable for polishing a new instrument because the varnish will be at its best and most protective state.
On the other hand, Olive oil never dries; thus, any dust or filth will adhere to the instrument until it is cleaned again. Furthermore, if there are any fractures or a lack of varnish on the wood, the oil will permeate it. Because the glues used for this purpose are water-based, repairing such an instrument may not be easy.
Is It Ok To Use Alcohol To Clean My Violin?
You should never use cleaning solvents, alcohol, hand sanitizer, or alcohol-based solvents on the wood of your violin. Alcohol chemicals easily damage the varnish on your violin. If required, wipe the strings with a tiny dab of 99 percent isopropyl. Avoid getting alcohol on any other parts of your violin, especially the wood, as this will harm the coating.
Fidlar hope you find these cleaning suggestions to be beneficial. If you require further cleaning instructions or personalized guidance, the Simply for Strings team is available at all times to assist you in maintaining your instrument.