General questions - Luthier Vladimir Kalashnikov
storing rosin string height chin rest shoulder rest emergency bridge care
How to store the instrument?

The most important factor for the instrument is humidity. The optimal range is between 40% and 60%. Do not forget to dry out the cases, for example, with a hair dryer. The fabrics used in cases absorb moisture very well.

How to save the instrument from frost?

During the periods with very low temperature (below -15) first of all pay attention to the case. It should be warm. The best option would be Korean cases made of pressed penoplast. They are actually thermoses. In the “cold” cases and covers the instrument should be wrapped in the flannelette fabric. After coming into the warm place wait for 20-30 minutes, and only then open the instrument. Watch for the humidity, especially at home! The norm for bow instruments is 40-60%!

What fabrics would keep the instrument warm in winter?

The best fabric for keeping the instrument warm is flannelette. It is very convenient to use baby cotton flannel blankets. The best solution is to sew a simple bag. Never use silk or wool. These types of fabric make bad impact on the varnish.

Which rosin to use?

As a rule, the color of the rosin defines its hardness. Darker one is softer, lighter one is harder. Dark (soft) rosin sticks better but easier clumps up which often diminishes the sound quality. It wears out the bow hair faster. Light (hard) rosin leads to clearer sound, is easier to clean from the instrument, but does not bear thin bow hair.

Green rosin — what is special about it?

The green rosin is usually the softest. It sticks well, but clumps up and causes additional sounds. Moreover, it wears out the bow hair too quickly. It is worth using as an emergency option when it is impossible to replace the hair.

How can I regulate the string height?

The string height is connected with the fingerboard shape. There are standard measurements: on the violin it is 3 mm for the Mi string, 6 mm for the Sol string; on the chello they are 6 and 10 mm correspondingly. The height of the middle strings is connected with the fingerboard shape. Also a lot depends on the playing manner and the strings material. Gut strings should be a bit higher. Do not regulate the strings height by yourself. You can alter the sound.

The chin rest. What are the requirements?

The chin rest should be made of light and porous wood not to constrict the sound by additional weight and to absorb sweat. The chin rest must not be covered by the varnish, only polished. The model should be chosen according to the musician’s anatomy and posture. As a rule, the comfort of the chinrest depends on the shoulder rest position.

How to choose a shoulder rest?

Most musicians prefer two models of a shoulder rest — “KUN and “VOLF”. The “VOLF” model is figure adjustable and has many options for regulation. If a shoulder rest is chosen correctly there is usually no need for a deep chin rest.

What should I do if the instrument has become unglued or cracked?

Immediately loose the strings so that the body shape does not start changing. Do not touch seams and cracks. Carefully collect all pieces in one package, cover the instrument with a clean fabric, wipe off your tears and seek the help of a luthier.

Which kind of bridge is better — made of dark or light wood?

It is not the color of the wood but its stiffness that matters. The easiest way to define the stiffness of the bridge is to drop it on the table and listen to its tone. The higher the tone, the harder the wood.

What to use to wash and clean the instrument?

Nothing! Unprofessional cleaning can damage or partly remove the varnish. You can slightly clean the dirt with your saliva (hello to chello players). The composition of the cleaning liquids used for musical instruments is usually unknown. You do not know the ingredients of the varnish either. It is not worth experimenting.