Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Important Instrument Care Reminders

This week has brought several things to my attention that I think we all need to be reminded of to keep our instruments safe. Please read through this list of reminders and hopefully it will help you!

1) Record the serial numbers of all your instruments in a safe place. Take photos of your instruments, then use a Sharpee pen to write the serial number directly on the photo. This is really important if your instrument is ever lost or stolen.

2) Never lay your instrument down...not on the floor...not on a chair...not on a bed...not anywhere where someone might step on it, sit on it, or bounce it off something.

3) Don't lean your instrument up against a chair or anything else. Put your instrument on an instrument stand, or give it to someone to hold temporarily.

4) If you put your instrument in its case, ALWAYS latch the case. Even if you are only going to put it there while you get a drink or use the restroom or whatever. YOU know the case isn't latched (if you remember), but someone else may come along who doesn't know and they might grab the handle of the case to move it and out comes your instrument!

5) If you play an instrument with a removeable bridge, like a fiddle, upright bass, or banjo, keep an eye on the angle of the bridge. As you tune the instrument over time, the brige will start to lean forward, especially if you just put on a new set of strings. You will need to pull the top of the bridge back to keep it from warping or falling over. If you play a banjo, a good rule of thumb is to mark the ends of the bridge with a pencil on the head of the banjo. That way you will always know where to put the bridge if it falls down.

Instruments that are in the violin family locate the bridge feet between the "hash" marks of the f-holes, so there is no need to actually mark them. Also remember, these types of bridges are not glued on, so if you remove all the strings at the same time, the bridge will not stay in place. Change your strings one at a time.

6) Don't use furniture polish on your instrument. EVER! Always use a polish that is intended for use on a musical instrument. Some types of furniture polish can be absorbed by the wood of your instrument and can change the sound of it forever. Other types of polishes leave residues that can be harmful to the finish.

7) Make sure that any rubber or vinyl that touches your instrument is not harming the finish of the instrument. The rubber on some instrument stands can react with certain types of finishes, and you will only know by looking for changes in the finish where the rubber touches the instrument. Make sure you check early and often when you get a new stand.

Also, watch out for vinyl backing on instrument straps. Many older straps have a vinyl backing, and if this comes into contact with the instrument finish, it can "melt" the finish. I am most likely to see this when an instrument has been stored for a long period of time and the strap is positioned underneath the instrument in the same spot for many years.

8) Don't wear metal belt buckles or shirts with metal snaps when you are playing an instrument like a guitar or banjo (or similar), unless you don't care if it gets scratched up. And if someone borrows your instrument, make sure they don't either!

I'm sure there are many more things to think of, but at least this should get you started!

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