Friday, November 24, 2006

Greasy String

Caring for your stringed instrument is a tricky business at any time of the year, but winter in Maine brings some special considerations, namely the dry air and fluctuating temperatures. Here are a few tips that we know and follow.
...Humidify the air in your home, either with a humidifier or by placing a bowl of water on the wood stove, radiators, or heaters. I think having lots of plants helps to put some moisture back into the air too, even if it is by making me conscious that I need to water them (so I can 'water' the instruments too)
... Humidify the instruments if possible. We have Damp-Its for the fiddles, and they make similar devices for guitars and other stringed instruments. We've ordered a humidifier that sits behind our piano to keep humidity in that area.
... Keep instruments covered. I like to have my fiddle out so it is quickly and easily accessible whenever I feel like blasting out a tune or two, but I do have to remember to keep a cloth over it to prevent dust from settling on the wood or the strings. We make an attempt to keep the piano cover down over the keys when not in use. Some instruments are left on stands uncovered, and I try to keep those dusted off (guitar, bass, banjo) but ideally everything would be kept in their cases until ready to be played... Richard is much better at this than I am!
... Keep the bow under cover when not in use, and also don't touch the hair... you can get your body oils on the hair and you won't get the sound and performance that you want and need.
... Store instruments in a safe area where they are not likely to be knocked into, dropped onto, or piled up on with papers etc. Store instruments out of the sun, away from wood stoves or blowing air from heaters or registers.
... Keep hands and clothing clean and dry. Lotions, oils, household products, food products... all these things can affect the finish of your instruments, and the performance of strings and bows.
... Keep drum heads clean of dust, and lightly spray to keep the skin supple. Also, don't over tighten the screws.
... Warm up your vehicle before transporting your instrument to your local jam, band practice, or dance. The extreme differences in temperatures can be disastrous at worst, and inconvenient at best.
Happy playing!

Greasy String can be found in the Portland Collection, as well as in the Phillips Collection.

No comments: