Winter Care Tips for Orchestral Instruments

Cold weather can take a toll on any wooden instrument. Violins, violas, cellos, and basses are especially fragile due to the thinness of the wood and the pressure the strings put on the instrument.

During the winter, you want to avoid quick temperature changes and low humidity. Here are some of the best tips for cold weather survival.

Safest in its case

The simplest way to keep your instrument safe is to always keep it in its case when not being played. Cases trap humidity inside and will protect your instrument from sudden temperature changes. Even while stored in a case, you should keep your instrument away from heat sources such as vents and radiators.

After traveling with your instrument in cold conditions, always allow your instrument to warm up inside its case for at least 15 minutes before removing it. This allows the instrument to warm up slowly and reabsorb any moisture it lost as it cooled down.

Use a humidifier

If your home doesn’t have humidity control, consider purchasing a humidifier to protect your instrument. We recommend Dampit instrument inserts. They are easy to use, and you don’t have to remove them in order to play. These help maintain the ideal humidity range of 45% to 55% relative humidity.

You can often tell that your instrument is too dry by the way it sounds. Properly maintained wood will sound rich and resonant, but dry wood produces a thin sound. As wood dries out, it also begins to shrink. This puts pressure on joints and seams that were not designed to withstand the strain. Glued seams will open, and cracks will form in weaker areas of the wood. If you notice any cracks beginning, put your instrument away as soon as possible and take it to The Music Shoppe closest to you. These problems are best addressed early on.

Questions? Let us know!

The Music Shoppe has two luthiers who are glad to answer questions about instrument care. Bring your instrument in, or give us a call at (800) 322-5019.