Humidity & Violin Stand

Edited: June 4, 2019, 4:50 AM · As mentioned in another thread, my lovely violin appears to have had more problems than expected when I took it to the luthier when a nasal/buzzing G string developed. Fingerboard, nut, bridge, soundpost all needed attention. I'm out of town and will get more information when I pick it up later this week.

I've been keeping it on this violin stand since the temps started warming and low humidity was no longer a problem:

I live alone, and no animals around to cause problems. I still kept it in a corner where nothing could accidentally happen to it. It leans against the stand and no part is being gripped by the clamp by the scroll.

Could storing it like this outside of the case have caused it to be more sensitive to humidity? Just trying to think what might have caused this so I can, hopefully, prevent a repeat.

Replies (22)

June 3, 2019, 11:46 PM · I'm a bit out of my depth here, but low humidity is supposed to cause shrinkage, which would create cracks. And any knowledgeable person, feel free to blow me out of the water there.
Edited: June 4, 2019, 4:53 AM · Low humidity isn't the issue.

IF it's related, it's a room humidity that appears to change up to 10% in a 1-degree A/C setting. Say 55-65% based on room hygrometer between 73 & 74 degrees. I'm in Indianapolis, not the most humid place in the world.

Just wondering if keeping it outside the case makes it more susceptible to changes in humidity - which I understand is bad. The link was to show the type of stand in case that matters.

June 4, 2019, 5:38 AM · How old is the violin and how long since it visited the shop? Maybe you are just catching up on normal time-dependent issues...
Edited: June 4, 2019, 7:53 AM · I've had it for 7 months, and that was the shop from which it came. It was not new...label says 2016 if my memory is correct. It has a beautiful sound - outside of the recent problems with the G string which precipitated the visit, and stays in tune amazingly well - until about the same time that the G string started sounding possessed.

Then again, I've no idea what normal time-dependent issues are, it's been > 4 decades :-)

June 4, 2019, 10:11 AM · Welcome to the rip-van-winkle returners group! I also 'paused' for >40 before returning in 2008. Since its been an amazing ride (my email is in my profile if you want to connect).

What did the luthier say? I hope they are honest and none of the problems were there when you bought it. Either they should give you a reason why the violin has experienced these issues or they should fix them for free. While the soundpost may need adjusting the other issues sound like flaws that may have been there when you bought it - in particular the nut and fingerboard.

[BTW I think its a good idea to tune from scratch everytime you practice, if only to help retrain your ear. Or maybe you mean that it goes out of tune when you are playing?]

June 4, 2019, 10:29 AM · Inside the case will be more stable than outside. For temperatures, humidity, etc.
Edited: June 4, 2019, 10:42 AM · I'm out of town and will pick it up Thursday. About the tuning, I meant that it stays in tune for days on end regardless of how much/hard it is played. I checked every time I played and my teacher simply said that I should be thankful. When the G string became possessed I also noted that very minor tuning was needed daily, but nothing major- just more than before.

I will find out more details Thursday morning, I've read that humidity can warp a fingerboard but don't know how real that is...

I've an annual service agreement with them so I'm not concerned about them finding a non-existent problem.

June 4, 2019, 3:43 PM · The microclimate inside a violin case is much more stable than in an uncontrolled room space. Wooden cases with lots of fabric and padding are more stable than minimalist high tech cases. First, within a case you have a small air space, and no through drafts and second the fabric and padding act as buffer on rapid changes in humidity, even more so if you keep the case closed when you are playing! If you have a small practice space it is entirely possible to keep it humidity controlled year round. David Burgess' website has an excellent step by step guide to how to do this at very reasonable cost.
June 4, 2019, 8:28 PM · I didn't know keeping it in the case would protect it from quick changes in higher humidity levels Guess the stand will have to be reserved for breaks in practice sessions rather than between them...
June 4, 2019, 8:43 PM · I don't mean to alarm you but I used to keep my violin on exactly the same stand (I just looked at your link). One day I put it down in a rush and the instrument pitched forward; when I tried to catch it one of the lower supports poked into the front of the instrument shattering the front plate. Needless to say, I now lay the instrument on a padded counter top or put it back in its case.
June 4, 2019, 9:38 PM · eeeek Elise! I didn't think it would be likely to tip that direction given the design...

Matt, I appreciate your description regarding the case environment. I find out more details on what actually happened to my lovely violin on Thursday morning when I pick it up, I will ask if there is any way that changes in humidity could have caused it.

I know that violins are finicky instruments at the best of times. I only started using the stand for the convnienance of having it ready to hand for playing with SR set, but it doesn't take long to take it out of the case and put on the SR. It is a lovely case, so I will put it to good use.

Edited: June 4, 2019, 10:25 PM · I absolutely agree with Elise. Instrument stands, and, while we're on the topic, instrument hangers that you attach to your music or microphone stand, are accidents waiting to happen. I have a table with a fabric pad on it to lay my violin and bow down on when I take a break. And they go back in the case when I'm done. Fortunately I didn't have to learn this the hard way like Elise.
June 5, 2019, 5:22 AM · I remember quite a while ago Mrs Stanley writing about her search for a new violin and how happy she was after finding it and was wondering why she was recently looking for a new one but now I know and I'm very sorry to hear of her misfortune. Her experience is an extremely valuable lesson to everyone here to be very careful with our treasures.
June 5, 2019, 8:57 AM · I know that you are picking the violin up tomorrow, but I'd want to know exactly what is wrong with each of the items on the luthier's list. For example: is the fingerboard warped or did it drop? What's wrong with the nut? What's going on with the bridge and soundpost? Did the soundpost need an adjustment in location (if so, they should be doing that with you there, in my opinion).
I hope that if they sold you this violin they are doing the work at a highly discounted (if not free, barring the replacement of the bridge) cost to you.
Edited: June 5, 2019, 9:27 AM · I think they only moved the bridge and thus the soundpost, and I will find out the other information. Frankly I was surprised to hear so much was needed as it had such a good sound outside of the sudden problem with the G...

I've a service plan with them and all was covered outside of the new E string - and it does cover new bridges if needed. As my G string was possessed (reason for the Luthier) and my strings were 7 months old I had them replace all of them. I had replacements for all (Dominants) but the E so all I will have to pay is $5.5 for the E (Piastro Gold).

They gave me a loaner so I could practice before leaving town and I was shocked at just how bad that V.S.O. was...

June 5, 2019, 12:45 PM · They obviously don't understand about loaners: lend an instrument considerably better than the customer owns on the hope that they can not part with it...
June 5, 2019, 12:54 PM · Elise - oh my gosh, isn't that the truth?! I was given a loaner that cost considerably more than my violin (unbeknownst to me what it was) and when I finally got into playing the violin I felt how much I jived with it... then I found out what the price was and had to sadly say goodbye.

June 5, 2019, 4:01 PM · Some rules about handling instruments I have learned over many years either from my sad experience, sad experience of others, or good advice from professionals.

1. Don't put your case on the floor.
2. Don't put your case on the hood or trunk of your car to do something else.
3. Don't put your instrument or bow on a bed, couch or chair.
4. Always put your instrument and bow in its case when you are not holding it.
5. Don't use an instrument stand to store your instrument (especially if you are going to leave the room. (I live in earthquake country!)

6. Always handle your instrument as if it were a Stradivarius - that way if you have the good fortune to be holding one you will not wonder what to do differently than you have ever done before. (The right answer is "nothing different!")

7. If your instrument is a cello and you have a stand-up hard case be sure there are two ways that the case simultaneously prevents the instrument from falling out.

I have examples from my life and other people I have know where failure to follow one of these rules had bad consequences (some really, really bad).

Do I follow these rules - well -- all except the instrument stand; I use a solid wood cello stand for one of my cellos except when the weather turns hot or humid - and I do worry that an earthquake might drop the ceiling on it some day (am I cavalier because I have 2 other cased cellos in the closet or just lazy?) In our orchestra rehearsals most of our cellists put their instruments back in their cases during our 15 minute breaks. All our violinists and violists put their instruments and bows back in their cases during break. I also fasten the neck velcro on mine in the case during break and close the case. All our cases are kept on tables (except the cello cases). Our wind players keep their "little" cases beside them (except the bassoon, not a little case).

June 5, 2019, 6:43 PM · I'll add to number 7:
When a cello is in the case, lay the case down, don't leave it standing up. If a standing case falls over, the impact can be enough to break the neck out of the cello, or do other damage.
Edited: June 6, 2019, 11:54 AM · The report is in and my lovely violin is home. Apparently things had moved so fingerboard required dressing and they also adjusted the notches on the nut. While the bridge had looked like it hadn't moved, apparently it really had so they shifted both that and the soundpost.

They said that all was down to normal seasonal changes, and that my violin might be a bit more sensitive to that than some others - and to not be surprised if the same thing happens late in the fall/early winter. Thankful for that service agreement under which all was covered.

If anything it sounds even better than before - or it just sounds that way as I've not played for 5 days! She will live in the case from now on...

June 6, 2019, 2:00 PM · Great Catherine!
I had a violin that was super sensitive to weather changes (down to needing to be within an ideal 5% humidity range to sound its best) and have since said goodbye to my sensitive old friend. My current violin (older, yet more beat-up!) is not sensitive to the weather at all. Go figure.

Glad you have your violin back now!

June 6, 2019, 2:04 PM · I suspect it's the changes it's sensitive to - in my apartment I've noted there can be a 10% change in temperature between, say 74 and 75 degrees...

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