It is a well-known fact that taking care of a musical instrument is considered an essential part of learning to play that instrument. Proper care of musical instruments helps to consistently maintain the quality of their musical output. Musical instruments vary in their size, usability and manufacturing material. Depending upon these characteristics, the methods applied to take care of different instruments differ.
Caring for Wind Instruments
Wind instruments are those instruments that can be played by blowing air through their channels. Some popular wind instruments include flutes, saxophones, clarinets etc.
- Never pick up the musical instrument by the keys. Ensure to hold the instrument at the two ends when removing it. The same care needs to be taken when replacing the instrument back after its use.
- The channels of wind instruments tend to catch moisture due to the air blown through them when they are being played. This moisture can affect the internal surface of the instrument and create cracks in them, thus affecting the quality of the music emitted. Similarly, internal moisture may lead to fungal growth in the channels of the instrument.
- Always use a clean cloth to clean your instrument. Usage of damp wiping material in any way should be avoided.
- If the instrument is supposed to be assembled before its usage, then ensure that all joints are cleaned before they are assembled. The musician may also apply grease in very small proportions on corks if required.
- Avoid consuming food before playing a wind instruments as there is a high chance of food particles being blown inside the instrument when playing it. This not only affects the quality of music emitted but makes the instrument unhygienic.
- If there are any joints in the instruments held together with screws, ensure that they are adequately tightened.
- Every once in a while, take your instruments to the repair workshop to ensure that the instrument is perfect. You may opt for some professional help in getting your instrument cleaned.
- It is recommended that you clean and wipe the mouth piece of these instruments just before and immediately after using them.
Caring for Brass Instruments
Brass instruments are popularly used as band instruments. Some popular brass instruments include trumpets and trombone.
- Brass instruments are generally easily dismantled. However, if a certain cork is tight do not force the screws of the cork to open. Always opt for some professional help.
- These instruments once dismantled can be washed with some warm water to remove dust particles inside the instrument. Use a soft cloth to dry the instrument. You may dry the instrument thoroughly in a cool dry place without direct exposure to sunlight.
- Take care to grease all valves of the instrument with a special valve oil before reassembling the instrument.
- Avoid usage of chemicals such as brasso to shine your instrument as these chemicals tend to leave a sticky feel on the instrument's surface.
Caring for Key Instruments
Some popular key instruments include pianos, organs, synthesizer or the harmonium.
- These instruments are primarily played with the help of the black and white keys and foot pedals.
- It is essential to protect the keys by covering them carefully whenever the instrument is not in use. Use protective plastic coated pads as instrument covers.
- The musical keys tend to accumulate dust over a period of time with usage. This dust can be wiped clean with a soft dry cloth.
- There might be instances of sticky and jammed keys. It is recommended that the musician should seek professional help in this case.
Caring for String Instruments
Some common string instruments are violins, violas, bass, guitars, etc.
- Always use a clean dry cloth to cleanse your instruments. Ensure that the instruments are devoid of any dust particles.
- For wooden surfaced instruments, a coat of fresh varnish and wood polish is highly essential once in a while.
- Do not replace all the strings at one go. Replace them gradually so as not to reduce the strain on the strings. Ensure your hands are clean when using the strings as they tend to accumulate a lot of dry skin and body oil.
- When hanging an instrument with 2 bow strings, ensure to use the one opposite to the chin-rest.
- Always follow the user guide issued along with the instrument.
General Caring Needs of Musical Instruments
Here are some suggestions applicable to all types of instrument. If they are religiously followed, they will help to maintain the monetary value and quality of your precious musical instrument.
- It is advisable to protect your musical instruments from extreme temperatures such as excessive cold air, direct sunlight and artificial heat. Make sure to store your instrument in a cool, dry and safe place when not in use. During winters, let the instrument acclimatize to a warmer temperature before you play it. This helps to maintain its performance standard in every weather.
- Do not delay repair work is required.(Incomplete sentence) A neglected instrument gives a degraded emission of sound or a buzzing sound.
- It is advisable to invest a superior quality cover or protective box for your instrument. Avoid using bags for covering the instruments.
- After every practice or performance, clean the instrument and replace it back in its box for its safety.
- Musical instruments are very costly. Ensure not to leave them unattended at any new place or with strangers. If left out in the open, they might be damaged or get lost. Strangers may not be sure of care needed by your instrument.
- Never leave the instrument in a closed vehicle or a humid place.
- When traveling, avoid loading the instrument in the cargo compartment. There is a high chance of instrument damage due to mishandling.
- Your musical instrument is precious and at times they appreciate in value. It is advisable to insure your instrument for taking care of any losses or damage.
One last piece of personal advice to all my readers - never try to become your musical instrument's 'doctor'. You may damage the instrument all the more. It is always a safe bet to visit a specialist in musical instrument repairs.