Music allows us to feel nearly or possibly all emotions that we experience in our lives. What’s better than hearing a lovely song while sipping a cup of coffee or while driving; however, developing a skill to play any musical instrument can also be fun, challenging, exciting, and helping your memory. Each musical instrument has its complexity; it takes practice to master each; having a musical instrument also requires maintenance and proper care.
Below the experts have broken down some care tips by instrument and their importance to extend the life span; this way, you can do some at home to practice your favorite tunes.
What’s the right environment for a piano?
Avoid direct sunlight if possible. Because of how well homes are now insulated, some of the recommendations in past don’t need as much attention (inside wall, etc). If a piano is by a door that is being opened and closed frequently, perhaps that might cause enough climate change to be an issue with tuning. Swamp Coolers, or high humidity areas will also cause problems. There are systems that can be put into a piano that would help.
Having it serviced at least once a year will help… I would recommend an RPT, they would have the skills and expertise to maintain the nearly 10,000 moving parts in a piano.
Ken from Ken Foster
What’s the best way to store my guitar?
Whether you have one guitar or a collection of them, it is important to learn some practical methods to take care of your instruments so you can enjoy them for many years.
There are many ways to “store” guitars and keep them out of harm’s way when not being played. It really boils down to how often you use the instrument, your preference, and how busy the environment that you are keeping them in is.
Clearly, the most effective way to store your guitar is in a hard case. These cases will keep your guitar safe from being dropped or banged up when traveling, and they offer outstanding protection against humidity, temperature changes, and physical damage. When storing a guitar in a hard case for a long period of time, it’s a good idea to drop the tuning by half a step (or a whole step) to maintain ideal neck tension.
Be sure not to stack multiple guitar cases on top of one another. Over time, this may damage the cases and can even cause the necks of your guitars to bow and eventually become unplayable. Rather, stand the cases vertically against a wall or on their sides. This keeps extra weight off the instrument and will also maintain the structural integrity of the case.
If you play your guitar daily, a hard case is still the best storing method to keep it protected. However, you can use a guitar stand or a wall hook. Both stands will support your guitar, keep it off the floor, and away from danger.
Remember to store your guitars out of direct sunlight and in a room that stays at a constant temperature. Closets and rooms that are towards the center of the building are great places to keep your guitars. Additionally, some cases include humidifiers to prevent moisture and changes in climate from ruining the wood’s integrity – these cases are predominantly used for acoustic and nylon string guitars.
Whatever you do, don’t lean your guitar against the wall, on an amp, or simply laying around. Being careless with your instrument is a recipe for disaster. Guitars that are leaned against the wall are prone to damage from falling over and leaning a guitar on an amp is a great way to chip and scuff up the neck. Even gig bags can fall over and damage your guitar when leaned against the wall.
We encourage you to always use a guitar stand, wall hook, or hard case when you are not playing your guitar. Remember, any time you are not playing your guitar, it is being “stored”. Get in a habit that increases the likelihood of keeping your guitar in excellent condition so you can enjoy playing it for years to come.
Gabe White from WhisperRoom, Inc.
Steve Blundon from Guitar Niche
How often should I clean my guitars?
It’s ideal to do a little wipe down with a cloth every week. Just to get the dirt, grease, and all the other stuff off. One thing that you can do to prevent stains etc. is to wash your hands before your play. This way your strings will last longer and the fretboard will stay in better condition too, plus you avoid stains.
It’s a good idea to do a little bit deeper cleaning once a month to make sure that everything is ok and to maintain the stunning looks of your axe. During this little cleaning session, pay extra attention to the strings and fretboard, because they get to most pressure when playing.
When it comes to full cleaning, it’s wise to do it every time you change the strings. Change the strings 2-4 times per year if you want to maintain a good tone and playability. When the strings are off, it’s easy to clean the headstock, fretboard, fret wires, pickups, and bridge. You don’t need to open the backplate of the electric guitar or dismantle the whole instrument, but just do a good in-depth cleaning for the guitar’s body and visible parts.
By doing cleaning every now and then, your guitar lasts longer, sounds better, and will look better doing so!
Teemu Suomala from Guitarist Next Door
- Don’t leave your violin in the car and avoid extremes in temperature.We know it will only take a few minutes to run into the shops and grab milk and bread. But if you leave your violin in the boot/trunk of your car, you could be potentially exposing your violin to stress and damage. Violins are constructed using speciality glues, which will negatively react to hot temperatures. Don’t risk it – never leave your violin in a car.
- Try to avoid variations in heat and cool. Avoid placing your violin case against a wall that is west-facing and exposed as these walls get hot in summer and can cause variation in temperature. Keep your violin away from air conditioners, heaters or open fireplaces.
- Keep humidity levels as stable as possible: Violins are crafted using timber, which means your instrument is susceptible to humidity changes. We recommend regular usage of a humidifier to ensure your violin stays safe and sound in its case.
- Take care with your case: It might sound obvious, but don’t sit or stand on your violin case!
- When storing your violin at home, whether you’re using a soft bag or hard case, be careful about its placement. If in a hard case, it is safe to leave the violin standing up against a wall or in the corner, but be cautious when standing your violin up against a wall if it is in a soft bag. Make sure everybody in the house knows that that is your violin’s spot! Knocks to your violin can cause broken bridges, dislodged sound posts and worse. We recommend the use of sturdy violin stands if you’d like to keep your violin out of its case for easy playing access!
Emily Kuehner from Simply from Strings
How often should I change my violin’s strings?
When it comes to violin strings, or any strings for that matter the frequency in which you change them partly depends on your preference and tone, some people prefer older strings because they have a more mellow tone. That being said, it’s important to not sacrifice functionality. If you begin to see your strings start to rust or if the windings on the wound strings look like they are coming unraveled, they will not hold tune as well and soon break!
A good rule of of thumb is probably every 6 months to a year.
Taylor Overholser from Edmond Music
What is the best way to clean the inside/outside of my flute?
The best way to clean the inside of your flute is with a cleaning cloth and cleaning rod or with a flute cleaning wand. If using a cloth, thread the corner of a soft, dry cloth through the rod and push through your flute. A cleaning wand is even easier – just run the wand through your flute. The best way to clean the outside of a flute is with an untreated flute polishing cloth. Use the polishing cloth to wipe away any fingerprints or residue on the outside of your flute.
Emily Andenmatten from Flute Center of New York
Which factors can affect my flute’s functionality and life?
There are several factors which can affect the functionality of your instrument.
Firstly there is how you handle it. We must be conscious that a flute is a complex and intricate piece of light engineering, with many moving parts, and although the cylindrical body of the flute is strong, the mechanism is fairly delicate, and should be handled carefully – both while playing, and also while assembling and disassembling the flute. Be careful to gently twist the head joint and foot joint onto the flute while holding the barrel and not the mechanism – keeping all the joints straight and aligned. Don’t put the head joint or foot joint onto the body of the flute at an angle – as you will round off the tenon joints. The combination of twisting and grasping at the same time can be terrible for the longterm health of your instrument – so be sure to stay clear of the keys when assembling and disassembling.
Gareth McLearnon from Wm. S. Haynes Co.
How often should I change my mouthpiece (saxophone)?
There is no written rule as to how often you need to change a mouthpiece. If you take good care of it (use cushions to protect your mouthpiece from teeth marks and clean it every time you use it), you will be able to keep your mouthpiece for a very long time. However, there are several key moments in the life of a saxophonist where acquiring a new mouthpiece becomes a necessity:
- When you purchase your first saxophone. Most of the time, the stock mouthpiece that comes with it is somewhat weak, so it’s better to buy a new one from the start.
- If you don’t feel comfortable with your current mouthpiece. Every musician is different and has different needs. It’s not because someone plays great on a mouthpiece that it will also work for you. You need to find a mouthpiece that truly fits you and your sound.
- If your sound has evolved or you have a different music project. A mouthpiece can be great at a specific moment in your career, but then your sound changes and it starts falling behind. A mouthpiece will help you reach a given sound, but if your expectations evolve, it’s better to get a new one. Of course there are tricks to modify the sound of your current model but in all likelihood, a new mouthpiece more adapted to this new sound means less struggle and more freedom!
- You want to try something else. Perhaps the store where you bought your last mouthpiece did not offer many choices. So if you have the chance, it’s always nice to try something new, just for the sake of comparing the two, and perhaps you will come to realize that your old mouthpiece was really hard to blow through while a new model is much more comfortable.
Pauline Eveno from Syos