Regularly how to clean your violin will allow you to keep it in optimal condition. In addition to highlighting the beauty of the instrument, cleaning gives us the possibility to review our instrument carefully and prevent, avoid or detect possible physical and / or acoustic changes.
Cleaning your violin can be done by yourself, but you have to be very careful. The products you use can strongly damage your violin.
I must emphasize that although there are things that we can do ourselves, it is better to leave the repairs and adjustments to the great experts.
As we can see in our instrument, the resin of the bow falls on the violin turned into powder. Clean your violin with a cotton, microfiber or silk cloth every day after playing. (I recommend using one of 100% cotton).
Watch out for splinters around the edges, especially on old instruments. Remember, you also have to clean the bow. Do not forget!
Necessary material for cleaning: Resin remover, varnish cleaner, string cleaner, baby oil, clean 100% cotton cloth, cotton discs and paper napkins.
1. REMOVE THE REST OF RESIN.
Apply 5 to 6 drops of resin remover on a cotton pad. NEVER apply the product directly to the instrument.
Gently rub in circles in areas where resin residues are stuck.
Don’t try to remove everything in one pass. With a paper napkin, remove the excess product and repeat the same procedure again until the resin residues disappear.
Once this cleaning is finished, perfectly remove the excesses of the excess product with a paper napkin.
2. CLEANING OF THE VARNISH.
As we did in section number 1, we apply again 5 to 6 drops of varnish cleaner on a cotton pad.
Gently rub in circles all over the body of the violin. Remove excesses with a paper napkin.
NEVER apply the product directly to the instrument.
Keep in mind that cleaning the violin strings is a very delicate operation. Most string cleaners are made from alcohol, and alcohol is capable of damaging the varnish of the instrument.
To clean the strings ALWAYS cover the body of the instrument and also the fingerboard (you can do it with a paper napkin). Make sure you cover everything well, especially the area near the strings.
Apply a little of the string cleaner on a cotton pad and rub the strings one by one, paying special attention to the area where you pass the bow to remove the resin residues.
Apply a few drops of baby oil on a cotton disc, run it under the strings and rub gently along the fingerboard.
Remove excess oil with a paper napkin.
After the cleaning of the violin is complete, you can wipe with a cotton, microfiber, or silk cloth to remove any remaining dust particles.
All violins need extra attention from time to time, even if you are usually very careful.
The surface can get sticky due to the remains of resin and lose brightness, especially between the f, where all the resin ends up falling. You can remove excess resin with a special cleaner.
Some cleaners will also wax and remove small scratches. Today you can find special cloths in music stores which already include wax, so that you just need to pass the cloth and do not get an extra product.
THE BEST CLEANER?
The most suitable cleaner depends on the varnish of the violin. When you buy an instrument, ask the expert which would be the most suitable for the varnish / wood / construction characteristics of your instrument.
Apply the cleaner directly to the violin, always use a cotton pad.
Use a cleaner with which you clean house wood (they are not made to clean instruments) or that is not suitable for your instrument. Always ask a luthier.
To clean the strings I recommend the Pirastro string cleaner.
Over the years, dust and dirt inevitably seep into the violin. To get it out there is a homemade trick.
Put a tablespoon of dry rice inside the violin. Help yourself with a paper napkin to insert it so that there is no impact that can damage the bottom or top of the violin. Shake with transverse movements and carefully to move the rice grains inside. Then turn it down and gently shake it until there is no grain left inside.
Dirt will fall on the table.
Sometimes you will have to take the violin to an expert. For example, when you need a more thorough cleaning, when there are stains that don’t go away, the varnish is fading, etc.
It should be reviewed once a year if you dedicate yourself to music professionally or you are studying higher education.
7. STRONG SWEAT?
If your sweat is very acidic, it can damage the varnish or even the wood, especially in the area where you play/hold with your left hand.
Solution? You can place an adhesive plastic strip to take care of and prevent wear in the area.
8. THE BOW.
The bow hair usually get dirty near the frog or the tip. Keep in mind that it is natural horse hair so you can clean them with a warm, damp cloth and even with a drop of liquid soap.
The ends of the bow hair are fastened with small wedges, make sure they do not get wet.
9. THE HAIR OF THE BOW.
If you have to put more and more resin, it is possible that it is due to an excess of resin residues, which greatly smoothes the hair of the bow.
You could clean them yourself with a cloth and a cleaner with 70% alcohol, but my advice is to go to a luthier. Alcohol can damage the wooden stick and you may only be able to glue the hair together what will make it worst.
A luthier will decide if the hair bow can be cleaned or better changed.
To finish, I would advise cleaning the surface of the violin in depth once every three months.
Strings, apart from cleaning them every three months, it will also be necessary to change them at least once a year or even once every 6 months. NEVER change all the strings at once, do it gradually.
Also, don’t forget to clean your violin every day with a cotton cloth after playing it and clean your hands before starting to study to avoid passing dirt on the strings
Ending, as we have already said, do not forget to visit your trusted luthier at least once a year or every year and a half to review the instrument and the bow.
Pirastro official page: https://www.pirastro.com/public_pirastro/pages/en
Siminoff Roger, H. (2002). The luthier´s handbook. Hal Leonard