The violin is a gentle, sensitive instrument that requires maintenance and attention. Regular maintenance includes cleaning and using a special type of rosin that is applied to the strings of the fiddle bow, changing the snapped strings, and applying new ones.
People new to the amazing world of music may not be experts in proper storage solutions. Some say it is a good idea to keep an instrument ‘before their eyes, so they can remember to practice. It is largely debatable whether keeping an instrument out in the open is a good idea.
Experts don’t recommend hanging violins on the wall and claim they’ve never heard of musicians who do this as it makes the violin prone to damage and dust.
If you want to learn more about this matter and violin maintenance, make sure to keep reading.
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A Refined Sound
The violin belongs to string instruments, along with the viola, violoncello, and contrabass. This type of instrument is characteristic that is played by a fiddle bow, that is held in the right arm, and taken from the strings tightened on the body of the instruments. At the same time, using the fingers of the left hand they apply pressure on the strings, shortening the vibration and producing the desired length and height of the tone.
Simply speaking, that is how sounds are produced on this instrument. Other instruments, like a piano, are already set and don’t require much work. The violin is much more delicate and because of that, people who play it need to be exquisite and sensitive musicians.
The gentlest and emotional sounds come from the violin. In the hands of a good musician, it can enchant and picture the most complex of human emotions. Since the baroque period, the violin has dominated the world of classical music. During the twentieth century, it fitted into many other, more contemporary musical genres- from jazz to pop-rok, even folk, and traditional music. It best fits in the role of the leading instrument that carries the melody and reveals its virtuosity.
A Legend About the King of Violin
Eugene Ysaye was a Belgian violinist, composer, and maestro often called the king of the violin. Born on the 16th July 1858, and from a common family, his entire family played some type of instrument. Interestingly enough, there is a legend on how the first violin came to the Ysaye family.
Once upon a time, the lumberjacks found a boy in the woods and brought him back to the village. The boy was hardworking and started an apprenticeship as a blacksmith.
One time, during a festival in the local village, he amazed the crowd by playing the viol (an instrument used during the baroque period, and the closest ‘cousin’ to the modern violin). Since that day all the villagers enjoyed singing and dancing while the boy played on his instrument.
One day the King was passing by the blacksmiths, where the boy worked. While he waited for his horse to get some horseshoeing done, the counts’ servant saw the viol and told the boy that he listened to musicians in the court playing a similar instrument.
However, this instrument was called the violin, and it had a much nicer tone, similar to the human voice. It was able to portray the sadness and sorrow and all other emotions humans feel. From that moment, the boy started thinking day and night about that beautiful instrument.
After that, he had a dream where a woman of amazing beauty came and kissed him on the forehead. The boy woke up and looked at the wall in front of him, and there, instead of his old viol, was a brand new violin. He immediately started playing the beautiful notes it made. That is how the first violin came to Ardeni, to the Ysay family.
These fine instruments require fine maintenance. Even violins that are not Stradivari, Guarneri, or Armati can last for hundreds of years, and be used if they are taken with proper care. There are a few tips all violinists and experts do to make their instruments last longer.
- Invest in a quality violin case made from durable materials. Also, consider getting a strap and wear it by the neck, so it is secure whenever the instrument is in transit.
- Clean and wipe the rosin off the strings and violin because it can cause it to get sticky and dirty, eventually ruining the finish of the instrument. Always use a lint-free cloth to wipe off your violin from rosin and dust, it can be both in many violin stores at a cheap price.
- Be moderate when applying rosin on the bow hair as it can come off while playing. Excess rosin will also shorten the lifespan of the bow hair, and changing those is expensive.
- Never use alcohol or solvents when cleaning the instruments as they can strip the violins varnish, hot water is also a big no-no. Stay true to a soft dry cloth, and leave more extreme cleaning to a professional instrument maintenance service.
- Keep the violin in the case when it is not in use because it can easily fall, get knocked over, etc.
Store the instrument at a place with appropriate temperature levels, and consider using a humidifier if it gets really cold.
- Set the violin case either face-up, or on its side. Cases that lay on the bridge, even if it is inside the case combine the pressure with the high tension of the strings and cause the wood to weaken.
The pegs should be fitted at all times because they allow constant tuning of the instrument.
- When your instrument is not in use loosen the bow, as you will readjust it every time you play. There’s no need for loosening the violin strings.
- Maintain hand hygiene, and avoid touching varnished parts with sweaty hands.
- Leave violin repairs to professionals. DIY repairs can only send your violin to a decoration shelf, as you may do more harm than help.
Hanging Violins on the Wall
Many musicians have two or more instruments they play, especially professionals. Unfortunately, there is a great number among them who don’t know what is the best, or rather say, healthies option for keeping their instruments safe, and at hand.
Some claim that it is alright to consider mounting a violin and fiddle on the wall as a storage solution but under very specific circumstances. Space where the instruments are stored should not be too dry or damp. There are violin stands that can be used as ‘outside the case’ storage options.
Violins stored on a wall-hanger can be beneficial even for the violin itself in some cases when, for example, it is stored in a case with a humidifier, and it is then taken out for practice in a very dry room. There is a reasonable risk for the wood of the body to suffer from cracks.
On the other hand, a violin kept in an almost constant environment (when referring to temperature) will require less tuning, having a longer string life.
From this aspect, it can be beneficial to mount your violin used for practice on the wall of the room you play often. It also makes a great wall decoration, so put it somewhere nice, as it deserves.
Humidity Control is Half the work
People who are serious musicians and collectors of expensive instruments have the practice to keep all of their precious pieces in a studio with a controlled humidity range. The amount should be set at 40-45% humidity at all times, it may take some additional investment but it is well worth the time. Also, as already mentioned, the constant temperature environment means that they will need less string re-tunning, prolonging their lifespan.
There is a theory of humidity-cycling, implying that it improves the quality of the sound over time. However, it does not mean that quick humidity change is good for the violin.
So, Can You Hang a Violin on the Wall?
A starting musician that is attending the academy or does not have more than one usable violin should take care of it the best they can. Living in rented apartments, cold rooms, or playing in attics, or other poorly insulated spaces, will take a toll on the health of the violin if it is not properly taken care of.
Maintenance of any piece of equipment is the key to keeping it usable at all times. Now, if you have a performing and practicing violin, and a cozy studio or well-insulated room, it is an entirely different story. Some musicians prefer old-school approaches, while others claim that the best results are achieved if the instrument is held in the room, on the wall or shelf that is well aired and temperature controlled.
People who are not for this swear by the regular storage, where the body of the violin should be put in a silk bag. Also, the luthiers are against mounting violins on walls. The pressure of the scroll and neck, from holding the weight of the body, can impact its overall performance. The instrument should be stored in almost the same position it has when it is played.