Violin/Viola Maintenance Checklist for Mid-Pandemic Instrument Health

December 10, 2020, 8:32 PM · With music-related routines disrupted this year, you might have missed some of your normal cues for maintaining your instrument. Nonetheless, you need to take care of your fiddle!


I've compiled a checklist to help you make sure your instrument is getting the maintenance it needs. I've also included links to stories that go more in-depth, to help with any specific maintenance issues that may come up:

I hope this check-list helps you maintain the health of your instrument, as well as your own sense of well-being, in regard to your instrument and your playing.

If you have other suggestions for violin or viola maintenance, please share in the comments section.

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December 11, 2020 at 02:42 PM · This is a great list, thanks for posting it!

December 11, 2020 at 05:47 PM · thanks Laurie!

December 11, 2020 at 06:20 PM · Thank you for this useful check list! A Question: I changed my strings recently, and when cleaning the fingerboard I noticed some wear under the D string - essentially a subtle furrow in the ebony running from nut to 3d position, 3d finger. How much wear of this kind is tolerable before needing it addressed? There is currently no buzz nor any other concern with any stopped note.

December 11, 2020 at 06:50 PM · Charles, that is pretty common. Once in a blue moon one might need to get the fingerboard "planed," but I think I've had this done once in 40 years!

December 11, 2020 at 07:23 PM · Everyone doesn’t have an air compressor, but if you do, it can be helpful to shoot some compressed air into an ff-hole and watch the dust, and whatever else, come flying out the other ff-hole. Sometimes there’s not much, but on some occasions I’ve been astonished by how much comes out. If there’s any bugs in there, this will send them on their way. Do this outside. And take care not to damage the label. (Maybe it would be best to leave this for your luthier, if you doubt your own experience with an air nozzle.)

December 11, 2020 at 10:43 PM · Thank you Laurie. It’s just amazing to me how little maintenance a violin generally needs if basics are observed (like humidity) despite all of the string tension and pressure on the bridge. My instrument was made in 1939, with a new set up in 2015. It has served me well, and has needed nothing but routine care ever since. The violin - a marvelous invention!

December 12, 2020 at 07:48 PM · Mark -

Thank you for mentioning an air compressor. If I may add, greatly reduce the compressor's output pressure - mine is capable of 140 psi - more than enough to move or possibly dislodge the sound post depending on the nozzle attachment. A rubber bulb-type air pump that one hand-squeezes might be safer.

Whichever tool one uses, it may require a bit of work to remove the dust, dust balls, and other particles, as they will naturally travel further into the interior until hitting the ribs.

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