Winter Violin Damage – 3 ways to avoid it

Dry Wood

Fall and winter are a tough time for the string family.  Sudden changes in temperature and generally lower humidity can cause problems and costly damage to your instrument.  Common issues that occur are: moving necks, unglued seams, rattles, buzzes and even cracks.  Here are a few steps you can take that will lessen the chance of paying an emergency visit to your local luthier.

Give it time.  Wood expands and contracts more than you may expect.  Damage occurs when temperature and humidity change quickly.  Get to your destination early and allow your instrument to adjust while staying in its case.

Control Humidity.  This means having a reliable hygrometer.  Try to keep it between 40% – 60%.  Be careful not to get your instrument wet!  Many people over-saturate their humidifiers.  This can cause major damage.  Also, be sure not to allow the humidity to change too quickly.  If it’s very low, bring it up 5% – 10% per day until it reaches the desired humidity.

Indoors, in the case.  If possible, do not travel with your instrument in the trunk of your vehicle.  If traveling by airplane, carry it on.  When at home, keep it indoors.  When it’s not being used, it should remain in the case.  Most furnaces and air conditioners pull moisture out of the air.  All it takes is a few hours of warm dry air blowing directly on your violin for a purfling to pick up a nasty buzz or a seam to pop open.

Just remember; take it slow, shoot for 50% humidity, and keep it indoors and in the case.  Taking these three steps can greatly reduce winter violin damage.  Go ahead and schedule an appointment with your trusted luthier.  Most will examine your instrument for free.  Catching small problems before they become big ones saves time and money down the road.