Repair Posts

That Brittle Time Of Year – Tips On Caring For Your String Instrument During Winter

snow-car-cello

Winter is approaching with its cold, snow, and low humidity. This scares the bejabbers out of any self-respecting stringed instrument. Can’t you just see or hear wood shrinking, pegs loosening, cracks splitting a top rib in two … These are sights and sounds that one might think would bring a smile to a repairman’s face. Winter time does create special problems for the violin family instruments, but good common sense care will reduce the number of unnecessary repairs.

In most circumstances, instruments kept from sudden extreme changes in humidity and temperature stand an excellent chance of not cracking or coming unglued at the seams. Now, take the same violin in the same well-balanced conditions. If you bang it on a wall, floor, a friend’s head, etc., that violin (not to mention your friend’s head) will come apart somewhere.

An instrument taken from one environment to another, i. e. from a warm room to a much colder outdoors, will also suddenly be subjected to less humidity in addition to lower temperatures that can stress the instrument to the breaking point. Keep the instrument closed in the case for a more gradual exposure to the change.

Cold weather makes wood, plastics, leather, and metal more brittle. Avoid blows to the case, bag, or any accessories.

Peg compound used sparingly can be a good thing. Using too much will cause well-fitting pegs to slip.

Dirt on a violin, viola, etc., is unsightly and detracts from the sound. Keep it wiped off. A soft rag used appropriately is enough to keep rosin, perspiration, or fingerprints from accumulating on an already clean instrument.

Sometimes accidents are unavoidable. Paige’s repair shop is here to help whether general maintenance or major repair is needed.

It is a fairly sure bet that everyone has heard the joke about the difference between the violin and the viola. The punch line is, of course, the viola burns longer. It is an old joke but serves to illustrate that violin family instruments are made of mostly wood. Instruments made of wood can and will wear or even break, but they will, with good care, last for many years of enjoyment.

Top 10 Tips from our Repair Shop

mouthpiece-puller

  1. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. It is best to have your instrument serviced regularly in order to keep it in good playing condition. We recommend at least once a year but twice is better. Especially for woodwind instruments. With all their intricate key work and pads/corks that wear out from just regular use they need a little more TLC.
  2. The hole in the bottom of a brass instrument piston IS NOT for a screwdriver or a pencil! It is a vent hole and sticking anything in there is liable to damage the port in the piston and cause a more expensive repair.
  3. We pull stuck mouthpieces for FREE. However, we do charge to re-install mouthpipes. When in doubt…..let us do it. (Pictured above)
  4. When wiping off your flute or piccolo to keep it nice and shiny be careful to not rub the edges of the pads. The pads are covered with a thin membrane which tears very easily leading to an earlier than normal complete repadding.
  5. Bari saxes do not bounce! Not really a repair tip but more along our amazement of the condition of the bari saxes that come in for repair.
  6. When an instrument gets wet from one of Mother Natures surprises just carefully wipe it off and then let it air dry completely before putting it back in the case. Putting it back in the case wet can lead to mold/mildew and major problems
  7. Never use alcohol to clean an instrument. It can damage the finish on string, brass and woodwind instruments.
  8. One UN-repaired solder joint…… leads to another.
  9. Extend the life of your bow hair by releasing the tension on the hair after rehearsals and concerts.
  10. Completely filled out repair tags are our umbilical cord to the customer. Without a telephone number we can not call. Without an address we can not send a postcard. If specific problems are not notated we may not find them.