Give your violin some tender loving care this spring time. It will help you enjoy your playing more.
Why do I need to clean the violin? How often should I be cleaning the violin? How should I clean the violin?
Over time, dust, rosin and perspiration will accumulate on the instrument. However careful you are as a player, finger marks will appear on the varnish and after a while the instrument will look less sharp than it did before. Did you know that when we clean the instrument, it does not just improve the appearance, but it will also help improve the sound?
Make a habit of dusting rosin off the instrument and strings with a soft cloth after playing, as a daily form of maintenance. Once in a while though, your instrument will benefit from a thorough, though careful, clean.
How do we go about this and what do you need for a good clean of your instrument?
First of all, you will need two cleaning cloths, one for the cleaning agent and one for polishing the instrument. Secondly you will need some rice, a cotton bud, cleaning alcohol or string cleaner and varnish cleaner or almond oil.
Start by cleaning your instrument on the inside: put half a cup of rice inside your violin through the f-holes and give it a good shake, so that the rice gets distributed everywhere around the inside, belly and back. Any dust inside your instrument will gather together and will form a small ball of fluff. Holding the instrument upside-down, shake it gently until all the rice has come out through the f-holes again. Then very carefully, remove any fluff through the f-holes with some tweezers. Your instrument should instantly sound fresher and less muffled.
Then, clean the strings. You may clean the strings with special string cleaner, which you can buy from violin makers, music shops or online. I clean my strings with cleaning alcohol, Alcohol Ketonatus 70%. Always cover the instrument with a cloth before you clean the strings to protect the varnish from any potential spills.
Then move on to cleaning the varnish.
Using a special varnish cleaner or almond oil on a soft cloth, rub it gently over the belly and back of the instrument to dissolve any rosin that may have accumulated there. Sometimes, this is a time-consuming process. You may want to clean small sections at a time, as there can be quite a layer of rosin to remove. Buff with a soft cloth the remove all the cleaner and to polish the instrument. Use a cotton bud on the bridge and f-holes, but be very careful as the wood is very delicate in these places.
The wood of the bow can be cleaned in a similar way to that of the violin. Generally speaking though, wiping the bow with a duster after playing should be enough to keep it in good condition. Although I have heard of people washing the bow hair in soapy water, I would not recommend this. Having the bow re-haired about once a year should be keeping it looking and sounding good.
This is all that’s required for your instrument to be sounding great and looking at its best too.
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