What does a modern Vittorio Villa or classic Stradivarius violin have in common besides both being built in the Italian mecca of violins, Cremona? It’s that these delicate instruments need special care in order to remain in playable condition through the years.
A conservator’s challenge to maintain a multi-million dollar instrument in a museum can be surprisingly similar to taking care of your own trusty fiddle: protection against wear and tear, accidental hits and surrounding environmental conditions are key for survival. Adding a RuuviTag environmental sensor inside your violin case will help you to make sure your instrument stays playable for years to come.
Your instrument could last for centuries
You and me are probably never going to play a genuine Stradivarius or del Gesù. It’s simply because these violins have become so rare that even some of the worlds most skilled musicians hands may never touch these instruments. Today, less than 200 instruments built by Bartolomeo Giuseppe Antonio Guarneri (del Gesù) survive.
Lifespan of a classical instrument varies by physical attributes as well as intended use: woodwinds or brass instruments average roughly 20 years, whereas pianos can stay playable for about 100 years, and string instruments for a maximum of 200 years.
Visiting a luthier or a violin maker for regular check up will help you to take good care of your instrument. With proper maintenance your instrument may be able to last longer than its projected lifespan
Right humidity is important
Most traditional stringed instruments are made principally from wood, which can be sensitive to seasonal weather conditions: dry and cold winter weather may cause the wood inside the instrument to contract, while humid summer months can set the wood to expand. Expansion and contraction can lead to various problems, so storing the instrument within a safe humidity range becomes extremely important. It’s also a good idea to never subject your instrument to extreme temperatures or direct sunlight.
Ideal relative humidity for stringed instruments is around 40–60%. To stay within these limits, homes should ideally maintain a steady temperature and good air circulation, while a separate dehumidifier unit can remove unwanted humidity and supplementary humidification may be provided using a cool mist, steam humidifier, or evaporative wick humidifier. Many high-quality violin cases have humidifiers built-in, and will save you from most headaches.
Replace your hygrometer with RuuviTag
Monitoring the surrounding environmental conditions is therefore essential, and many players resort to buying a hygrometer, which is a small instrument used to measure the humidity in the atmosphere. However, some of these tend to be very unreliable and inaccurate compared to other environmental sensors.
With its small footprint and impressive features, RuuviTag can be an excellent modern replacement for a simple hygrometer. It’s built around an accurate environmental sensor, and its data can be easily collected by using the free Ruuvi Station app.
While a modern solution like this might bring extra value to more advanced users such as collectors, conservators and museums, RuuviTags simplicity and affordability makes it also highly attractive for personal use.
Tips for taking care of your instrument
Keeping your violin in good condition can help maintain both its tone and value. Here are few tips to making your instrument last for a lifetime.
Buy a high-quality case for your instrument. A durable violin case built with high-quality materials will protect your violin from hits and scratches as well as dust. Some more advanced cases may provide features, such as built-in humidifier and a hygrometer, which may be beneficial depending on your requirements. Keep your violin inside the case after use to protect it. Use the provided straps to keep it secured.
Clean regularly, avoid using alcohol-based solvents. Wipe your violin clean after use using a lint-free soft cloth or a special violin care kit from your local violin store. You might sometimes see white dust on your instrument. This is caused by rosin falling off from bow strings. Rosin can stick to the violin body and make violin surface feel sticky. Never use alcohol or cleaning solvents to remove the stickiness. Even warm water may be harmful for your instrument.
Use only fittings that are made for your violin. Make sure that chinrest, tuning pegs and tailpiece are designed to be used with your violin. If you are unsure, talk with your luthier or visit a local violin shop for professional advice.
Store your instrument in right conditions. Never expose your violin to direct sunlight. Take special care of the relative humidity your instrument is subjected to and consider investing in a separate dehumidifier and humidifier.
And finally: replace your hygrometer with RuuviTag for added accuracy and reliability.
RuuviTag Wireless Humidity Sensor
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RuuviTag is a Bluetooth sensor that sends temperature, relative air humidity, air pressure and motion information directly to your mobile phone. Read more