Violins are meant to be played, but sometimes they must be set aside for awhile. Whether you are between homes or simply want to store the instrument until the next generation is ready to play it, here are some tips for putting a violin into long-term storage.
Prepare the Instrument
The first thing you must do is prepare the instrument for storage. While you generally want the strings to remain tight when you're using the violin on a regular basis, you should loosen them a tiny bit (maybe half a turn so the bridge and soundpost stays in place) when putting the instrument in long-term storage. This will reduce the strain on the seams and minimize the risk the tailpiece and wood will warp while in the storage unit. You also want to loosen the bowstring. The string can become unusable also warp the stick if left strung tightly in storage.
The next step is to clean the violin and bowstring with a soft cloth to remove rosin residue, dust, and dirt. Place the violin in the case after making sure there is nothing in it that can scratch or damage the surface of the instrument.
It's best to store the bowstring separate from the violin. The string on the bow tends to attract small beetles that feast on the bow hair. However, these insects don't like light. Store it out in the open in a place where light may shine on it every once in awhile.
The most important aspect of safely storing a violin is to put it somewhere where the temperature remains fairly stable. Constant fluctuations in temperature can cause the wood to expand and contract, leading to damage over time. A temperature-controlled storage unit is best, since the facility tries to keep the unit's temperature at a certain level. If that's not an option, place the violin case as close to the floor as possible and away from sources of heat and cold, such as windows and doors.
Humidity is another issue. The instrument needs a little bit of moisture to avoid drying out and warping. The violin should be kept in an area with 55-percent humidity. Barring that, however, you can purchase a humidifier that goes directly inside the case to keep the wood at optimal moisture levels. You can usually find these tools online or at a local business that sells stringed instruments.
For more information about storing a violin long-term or to rent a climate-controlled unit, contact a local storage facility like Northgate Mini Storage.