Winter is coming!
String instruments are special babies. Here are some tips to keep them in top shape and prevent damage and repairs over the winter:
1. NEVER leave an instrument in the car.
An instrument should never be left in the elements for longer than the time it takes you to travel. If you’re going to another activity before or after your music lesson, bring the instrument into your destination with you. Instruments are okay if the ambient temperature is between 60 and 70 degrees. Anything beyond that will wreak havoc on the wood of the instrument and often cause the strings to go out of tune.
2. Keep the relative humidity between 40-60%
Instruments thrive in the same humidity conditions that humans do. If you can, try to keep the relative humidity in your home between 40 and 60%. Some instrument cases have a built-in hygrometer – it is often in the top part of the case and looks a bit like a clock. If yours doesn’t have one, you can pick up an inexpensive, small hygrometer to monitor the humidity around your instrument.
If you have a whole-home humidifier, it’s best for your instrument (and you, and your home!) to keep the humidity around 50%. If that isn’t an option, here are a few other options to consider:
- A standalone humidifier that you keep in the same room as your instrument
- An in-case humidifier like the Boveda or the D’Addario
- You can create a makeshift in-case humidifier by taking a plastic sandwich bag and poking some holes it it. Then, take a clean, unused dish sponge, wet it, wring it out, then placing it in the sandwich bag .
- When placing in-case humidifiers, try to place it where it won’t make direct contact with the instrument or bow. We often place them underneath the neck of the instrument. Your mileage may vary depending on the shape of your case.
- Note: we do not personally recommend in-instrument humidifying options like the Damp-it. They’re risky and can cause water damage and warping if not used carefully.
3. Case closed
Though we often suggest keeping the instrument case open to make practice time quick and easy to start, we recommend keeping the instrument case closed in the winter months to help maintain the humidity.
4. Avoid hot or drafty spots
Pick a spot to store your instrument that is far away from both drafty windows or hot heating vents. Again – the ideal temperature for stringed instruments is between 60 and 70 degrees. Be sure to keep your instrument in a spot where you can consistently maintain a comfortable temperature.
Take it from us: just a little bit of maintenance goes a long way to avoiding long tuning sessions this winter, and long-term damage to your instrument. Ms. Nissa’s house gets so dry in the winter, she had to have ALL the seams on her violin reglued this spring! We don’t want that to happen to you, too!