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Taking Care of Your Instrument
By Richard Biggs

Stringed instruments are made of wood, glue and varnish, which create particular requirements to keep them at their best. Your instrument's needs are actually similar to yours. What makes you comfortable, what temperatures do you like? Stringed instruments are similar:

They don't respond well in environments which are too cold,
too hot, too humid, or too dry (optimal humidity is between 40
and 50%).
They should be protected from direct sunlight.
They prefer to be handled gently!

So use simple common sense — handle your stringed instrument with care, wipe off the rosin residue after playing, and don't crowd your violin by filling its case with sheet music, papers, or excess cloths. If you aren't going to play the instrument for a while don't loosen the strings. The strings help hold the violin and its parts in balance.

To care for your bow, you can help keep it from losing its camber (bend) by relaxing it after playing. As you prepare your bow for play, don't over-tighten the camber because a very tight bow will skid on the strings and be difficult to control. Never touch the hair with your fingers, as oil from your skin will transfer onto the hairs. Use as little rosin as possible; a few sweeps is all you need. Your strings should be clean, so wipe them off with alcohol if you see a coating of rosin. If rosin cakes the strings they will no longer swing from side to side; instead, they will roll and make a dull sound.

An essential part of the bow is horsehair, and most good quality hair comes from Siberia and Mongolia. Much of the hair obtained for the violin industry is a renewable source, cut from live horses' manes and tails. Losing a few hairs while playing is normal. However, if you notice one side of your bow looking balder than the other, it's time for a re-hair. Average players will re-hair their bows twice a year. A professional player may re-hair every three months, depending on usage.

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Biggs Violin Shop
Restorer, maker, and dealer of fine violins, violas, cellos, & bows   |   106 Lincoln Street  |  Porter, Indiana  |  219-926-1033
Bow Making
Richard Biggs, Luthier