Caring for your instrument

We recommend Commonsense Instrument Care by James N. McKean, published by the String Letter Publishing. It includes an in-depth description of how instruments are made, as well as advice on care and prevention. Here are some basic care principals.


  • Invest in a good solid case with a suspension system.
  • When you are not using the instrument, put it away in the case.
  • Don’t leave it on a chair or table, especially in a high-traffic area with people, kids, and dogs coming and going.
  • Don’t leave it unprotected on the floor.
  • Never leave your instrument in a car for any length of time, especially in hot or cold weather.


  • Insure your instrument for the full value. If you don’t know the value, have it appraised.

General Maintenance:

  • Use a clean, dry cloth to wipe rosin and dust off the instrument after each use. Otherwise, don’t clean it yourself. Don’t use paper towels, any kind of household cleaners, soap or water on your instrument. If it must be cleaned, take it to a professional.

The Bow:

  • When your bow no longer grips the string and gives you the results you like, it may be time to have it re-haired.

The Bridge:

  • Start with a bridge that is carefully fitted to your instrument by a professional maker. As you go through the year, keep an eye on the bridge to make sure it stays straight. If it becomes warped, have it straightened or replaced.

The Soundpost:

  • Don’t string up an instrument if the soundpost inside the instrument is not in place, or missing. It’s best to have the soundpost adjusted by someone with the proper training and experience. Instruments respond to seasonal changes, and some instruments will need adjustments with the changing time of year.

Open Seams:

  • As humidity rises and falls, your instrument will swell and contract. Sometimes these stressors will lead to open seams. Gluing looks easier than it really is; take it to a professional if you have an open seam.