Whether you are a beginner or already a professional, one of the vital skills that you should know is how to properly maintain your viola. Aside from the fact that purchasing a viola can be quite expensive, repairing one can be costly as well. Here are some of the tips that you may want to try to lengthen the lifespan of your viola.
TIP #1 – GOLDEN RULE
Always keep your viola in its case when not in use. This is to protect your viola from any damage. It’s a golden rule to never put your viola on floors, tabletops or stands for there’s likely a chance that it might fall off. Aside from that, keep it away from extreme temperatures and from direct contact from the sun.
TIP #2 – ADJUSTMENTS THROUGH LUTHIER
Just like a car getting a check every so often, your viola needs to be adjusted with a reliable luthier as well. The luthier will thoroughly check for open seams, soundpost, and the current condition of the bridge of the viola.
This assessment will help the luthier in providing the necessary maintenance of your viola needs. It’s not advisable that you do the adjustments for it may damage parts of your viola that you’re not familiar with.
TIP #3 – CLEAN IT REGULARLY
The lifespan and quality of sound of a viola can be affected when not properly cleaned. Did you know that the oils from your skin can damage the varnish of your viola leaving it prone to damages? That’s why it’s recommended to wash your hands before holding your viola and only touch the necessary parts when playing the instruments.
Moreover, ensure that it’s far away from any food and drinks to avoid spills that can ruin its sound quality. Aside from keeping your hands clean, you should also clean the rosin dust from your viola after you’re done playing. Uncleaned rosin dust can deteriorate the quality of the sound the viola produces.
TIP #4 – CHANGING OF STRINGS
The strings of your viola should be replaced every four (4) to six (6) months or once a year. Due to regular usage, the strings of your viola will eventually sound dull and lacking clear tonal center making it hard for you to find the proper tune. You should seek professional help if you’re not fully knowledgeable in changing the strings of your viola as this should be an intricate process.
TIP #5 – HANDLING OF BOW
The bow, however simple it may look, should be taken cared of with utmost consideration as it’s responsible for producing the sound from your viola. In taking care of your viola bow, you should ensure that you never touch the horsehair no matter how tempting it may look. The oils from your hands can ruin the hair, thus damaging the sound the instrument produces.
Moreover, you should always loosen the bow to release the tension from your bow and to avoid the defraying of the wood. Definitely not the least, avoid putting too much rosin in the horsehair as it can affect the longevity of your viola.
When polishing your viola, use a polish specifically made for violas and do not try to use alcohol as it can totally damage the varnish of your viola. As you already know, damaged varnish in your viola loosens the overall superb quality of the instrument.