storing violin

August 16, 2005 at 01:45 AM · I haven't played my violin regularly for over two years. Just today I tuned it for the first time in about a year. The two lower string were completely loose, and the bridge was tilted over. I straightened the bridge and tuned it up slowly, and it seemed to hold pretty well after a few minutes. I'm just wondering, is it best for me to leave the violin in tune if it's probably going to sit for a while? Or is it better to loosen the strings, or take everything off altogether? I really don't know and couldn't find much info on this. Thanks...

Replies (8)

August 16, 2005 at 08:39 AM · I dont think it will hurt anything to leave it with the bridge up and strings on...it will just slide out of tune over time. The thing to watch for is your bow...if your case is not sealed, you could get little bow mites that will eat your hair.

August 16, 2005 at 04:23 PM · Oh, don't loosen the strings. I've heard that your soundpost will collapse if you do that. If I were you, I would take it out monthly and tune it up again, even weekly. If you don't play it enough, it's possible that you could get woodworms or bowworms (I don't know the official names, sorry). They are little bugs that tunnel through the wood of the violin, and the bowworm things are bugs that eat the horsehair. These pesticides don't get to violins that are played, so I would just check up on it every once in a while.

August 17, 2005 at 01:31 AM · I shrink wrap mine and put it in the freezer.

August 17, 2005 at 12:26 PM · If you're not playing it for some time, perhaps loosening the strings might be a good idea. However, when you decide you want to start playing again, you would need to take it to a luthier just for a check-up. As previously said, the sound-post probably would've fallen down, and would need to be reset.

August 17, 2005 at 06:59 PM · A soundpost that is properly fitted shouldn't fall down just by loosening the strings. If the instrument is banged and bumped, it might -- but please don't bang or bump your unused violins! :)

My understanding is that it's best to loosen the strings -- perhaps not all the way, but at least down about an octave or so -- to reduce tension on the violin. Depending on the quality of the instrument's construction and especially if temperature and humidity conditions are not always ideal, leaving the strings fully tightened can result in the seams at the tail block spreading, letting the tailpiece pull forward and warping the wood of the sides and top at the end button.

That said, don't assume that the soundpost is up when you take it out of the closet!

August 18, 2005 at 02:44 PM · I wouldn't loosen drastically. I've heard that you should tune the instrument down a 1/2 to a whole step.

August 18, 2005 at 03:05 PM · Any adjustment should be somewhat gradual in order to be gentler on the instrument. A sudden increase or decrease in tension can be a great shock for an instrument, so always use care -- especially on a fragile one.

There's no harm done to a violin to remove the tension during storage. The worst that happens is that the soundpost falls down -- so gosh, you stand it up again. No big deal. You can buy a soundpost setter for $2 in some places, and with a little practice, stand it up yourself.

There is the potential for harm when an instrument is under tension and isn't being attended to regularly.

So if you're interested in my vote -- I say better safe than sorry.

August 20, 2005 at 04:45 PM · LOL, Alan!

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