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Household Remedies for String Instruments

Contributed by Emily Barkakati, Amelia Giles, and Tea Prokes

Cleaning Your Instrument


Aside from wiping off your instrument and strings after you play, it is also important to occasionally take further steps to clean your fingerboard and strings. Two household items that can help you do this are rubbing alcohol and steel wool.


There are two steps to safely cleaning your fingerboard and strings with rubbing alcohol. First, cover the top of the instrument with cloth. Rubbing alcohol can damage the varnish on the instrument so it is important to ONLY apply the alcohol to the strings and fingerboard area. Second, wipe down the fingerboard and strings lightly with either a cotton pad or swab. Remove any excess alcohol from the fingerboard with a clean, dry cloth.

 

 

Steel wool is an effective way of removing caked on rosin from the strings. Gently wipe the area two or three times between the bridge and the fingerboard with steel wool. It is recommended to use this method of cleaning sparingly as the steel wool can eventually strip the strings.

 

 

String and Peg Tips


When changing a string, it is beneficial to rub pencil lead on the bridge and the nut of the fingerboard. The lead acts as a lubricant that can keep the string from cutting into the bridge and nut.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chalk can help with slippery pegs. After removing the string, take the loose peg out of the peg box. Apply chalk lightly to the two areas where the peg comes in contact with the peg box. For sticky pegs, some musicians will use a black crayon in the same way to lubricate the peg.

 

 

 

How you wind your string can affect the tension of the peg in the peg box. If your peg is too hard to turn or slipping it can help to change the winding to change the tension accordingly. Consult the figure for further explanation.

 

 

 

 

A newly changed string can take days to stretch and stay in tune. A simple trick to speed up the stretching process is to rub the string up and down between two fingers. This helps to heat up the string, which in turn helps the string stretch faster.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miscellaneous Tricks

 

 


If you struggle with a sliding sponge or shoulder rest, a cut piece of drawer liner or non-slip rug pad can be placed between the sponge and the back of the instrument. A rubber band can secure the pad from slipping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A large paper clip can be used to tighten or loosen your chinrest. If you aren’t careful, it is easy to scratch the varnish behind the chinrest, so make sure not to insert the paper clip all the way through.

 

 

Some people find it more comfortable to add additional padding to the bow at the frog. While specialty products are available, you can easily slide a pencil grip or rubber tubing onto the stick and place it wherever is comfortable for your hand position.

 

 

 

 

A wobbly music stand can be easily fixed. Flip the music stand upside-down and tighten the base bolt with a wrench.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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