Violinist’s Ten Commandments

1. Don’t leave your instrument exposed. Always keep it in your case away from the heat, open windows and air conditioner. Never leave your case in a car. Take your instrument with you. When traveling, never put your instrument on the ledge above the back seat window. The glass acts as a magnifier.

2. Don’t allow your bridge to lean forward. It shortens the strings length and changes the finger position on a fingerboard. It may also snap on the table which could result in an expensive repair bill. To avoid this, straighten the bridge from time to time. Use both hand pushing it back into its fitted position with one hand and holding it with the other to prevent it from going back too far and falling over backwards.

3. Don’t use pliers or yank the pegs with force when they stick.  You can break the peg, damage the peg box, or snap off the scroll. If needed, allow your violin maker to move the pegs.

4. Don’t constantly fuss and tamper with different bridges, sound posts, or bass bars.  Once your instruments has been adjusted by the expert, let it alone and be happy, except perhaps for making minor sound post adjustments required because of weather changes.  Annoying  buzzes can be caused by wire loose strings, loose fine tuners, chin rest or loose parts of the shoulder rest.

5. Don’t let the dust and rosin accumulate on the top.  Always wipes the instrument off after playing with a soft dry cloth to remove any fingerprints and rosin dust. Once in a while have an expert repairer clean and revitalize your instrument’s finish. Do wipe the strings off occasionally with a rag dampened in alcohol. Clean strings vibrates freely, but don’t let any drop on your instrument.

6. Don’t grab the body of your violin between your fingers. You will wear off the varnish in time.  Hold it by the neck and support it by the chin rest if you wish to use both hands.

7. Don’t expect perfect fifths when you replace only one or two strings. Replace all four strings for perfect fifths and retain the used one for “spares.”

8. Don’t let the neck of your instrument to sag in the summer, for this allows the strings to be uncomfortably high from the fingerboard.  Support it with a wedge.  For violin or viola cut strips of cardboard three inches long by one inch wide.  Put enough of them together to make a wedge of a thickness to slide comfortably but firmly up between the table and the fingerboard about half of the distance from the end of the fingerboard.

9. Invest in a good case. Make sure that is not too humid or dry inside the case . Monitor temperatures every day.

10. Last, but no least: don’t let just any shop work on your prized instrument. Investigate the repairer and learn if he is one of repute.  It is always better to be safe then to be sorry.

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