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Take care of your instrument

A heat wave, or heat wave, is a meteorological phenomenon of abnormally high air temperatures, day and night, lasting from a few days to a few weeks in a relatively large area. As living beings, we are sensitive and weakened by these temperature variations. It is the same for the wood which constitutes our stringed instruments. It is important that musicians understand that they are the main actors in the good health of their instrument. During heat waves or extreme cold, here are some tips that will allow them to preserve the beauty, the sound and the value of their instrument. These tips are applicable to the whole quartet and more broadly to baroque instruments and other bowed strings. THE ENVIRONMENT: temperature and humidity In Europe, seasonal changes in temperature and hygrometry (percentage of humidity in the air) are significant throughout the year. Thus bowed string instruments, which are mainly made of wood, a material which by nature tends to expand in the presence of humidity and contracts in its absence. The architecture of the violin is made to absorb this "breathing" but these repeated movements can still create some inconveniences at the level of the glue joints, and more seriously fractures. A few tips : - Check the humidity level with a hygrometer. - Check that the humidity is between 55% and 70% with a temperature of 17░ to 21░ Celsius which is an ideal average for the conservation of an instrument of the violin family. Below 45% starts the risk of splitting - During the winter with the heaters in operation, the room where you play may require humidification. It is of course important to keep the instrument away from heat sources. The main idea being to avoid any sudden change of environmentЁ - It is essential not to leave your instrument in a car (like your dog or your baby for that matter...) - Also be careful with the air conditioning when traveling by car in very hot weather because the hot/cold variations can be brutal. - Avoid keeping your violin in its case at all times, it is a good idea at this time to air the instrument regularly, taking care not to subject it to sudden variations in temperature or humidity when opened. AN TOO DRY ATMOSPHERE: When the violin is subjected to an atmosphere drier than its usual environment, the wood that constitutes it contracts. How it will shrink depends on the fiber of the wood. Spruce, for example, will shrink widthwise. The drier the air, the more these fibers will contract, exerting an increasingly strong tension on the bonded contact surfaces. When the voltage is too high, two options present themselves: - In the best-case scenario, the glue that holds the parts together breaks. - At worst, the wood fractures in its most fragile part... so often in an essential part of sound production! AN TOO HUMID ATMOSPHERE: When a violin finds itself exposed to a more humid atmosphere than in its daily life, it will see its wood swell, in the opposite way to that of its drying out. The expansion of different parts can also cause tension problems. For example, ebony is very dense and humidity can still deform a part like the fingerboard over time. Breathing and sweating naturally create a moist environment for the violin. This is why parts close to the body are more likely to come off. Contrary to what one might think, it is during the cold seasons that a stringed instrument is most subject to drying out, as heating tends to dry out the atmosphere. Similarly, the strong heat present in summer can have the same effects mentioned above. WHAT YOU MUST REMEMBER : 1) Let your instrument rest in the coolest room, the one where there is the least temperature variation; 2) Avoid proximity to heating, the sun... Do not hesitate to put plants or a humidifier if the atmosphere is too dry; 3) A humidity level of 50% to 70% is ideal for the instrument. The same goes for a temperature of 17░ to 21░ which will keep your violin in the best conditions; 4) With too dry a temperature, choose a specific humidifier. After having wiped it well, you introduce it, for example, through the soundholes of the violin; 5) Remember to release the strings when the instrument is at rest to reduce the pressure on the bridge which risks sagging; 6) Finally, avoid repetitive temperature changes; A violin should stay in a stable environment
Are you going to take the plane with your musical instrument and you wonder how to spend a trip in peace? Find everything you need to know in this article. Anticipate your trip Any trip involves a risk for your instrument, but the more you leave prepared, the more you limit it. We therefore advise you to do your research before planning your trip. Often, it is possible to rent an instrument of equivalent quality for a short time at destination. This solution, often overlooked by musicians, has the merit of avoiding all the problems associated with transporting the instrument. However, allow extra time to pick up and return the instrument, come well in advance to check-in. However, if you do not plan to part with your instrument, choose your airline accordingly, as they all apply different policies. In any case, we strongly recommend that you avoid leaving your instrument in the hold. Leaving in the best conditions During the flight and upon your arrival, your instrument may experience strong variations in temperature and humidity. To avoid any problems related to these factors, it is useful to take a few simple precautions. First, you can slack the strings, making sure to leave enough tension to hold the bridge and the soul in place, allowing the strings to react smoothly without risking the bridge falling suddenly on the table, or that too little tension causes the soul to fall. You can also place bubble wrap under the tailpiece to prevent it from damaging the top if you release it too suddenly. The second important point consists in regulating the humidity of the air in the box thanks to a specific humidifier slipped into a soundhole of the instrument. It thus limits any risk of fracture or detachment. Also remember to wrap the instrument in a silk cover, as the silk always retains moisture. Finally, you can wedge the head and the handle with rags to cushion any shocks against the case. The trip by plane Most airlines have a vague policy regarding the transport of musical instruments in the cabin. As the dimensions of the cases almost systematically exceed the size limitations of the standard luggage authorized on board, a prior agreement from customer service is often mandatory, at the latest 48 hours before departure. Keep in mind, however, that the final decision rests solely with the captain on the day of the trip. Also to maximize your chances, favor periods of low attendance and present yourself in advance at the check-in counter and boarding. These warnings specified, violins and violas are often accepted in the cabin provided they are placed in compact cases with rounded edges. Depending on the conditions of your ticket, in this case it will be considered as your only baggage authorized in the cabin. Note, however, that some low-cost airlines may allow cabin baggage at check-in but return it to the hold when boarding in the event of a crowd. It has sometimes happened that certain crews require the strings to be removed from the instruments for safety reasons. Cellos can often travel in the cabin provided they pay an additional ticket and obtain the approval of customer service, and under control of the cabin crew. When the reservation is not possible online, it is sometimes necessary to count additional management costs. Be aware that there are nevertheless certain cases and over-covers designed to limit the effect of shocks in the event of travel in the hold, knowing that any journey in the hold is dangerous for the instrument. Finally, some companies accept double basses in the cabin on one or more additional seats, but the most economical solution if you absolutely have to travel with the instrument is to rent a flight case, a box specially designed for travel in the hold. The best if possible is to rent an instrument from a luthier on site. At the arrival The flight is over and you are relieved to find your instrument. Do not open the case immediately, let it acclimatize. The humidity and temperature of the ambient air are likely very different from conditions on board the aircraft, even if your case has traveled in the cabin. Limit the risk of detachment by opening the case gradually and away from extreme conditions (in direct sunlight, outdoors, etc.). In case of damage, go immediately to the customer service of the airline company, and have the visible damage noted in writing. We hope that these few tips will allow you to travel more serenely, and in any case do not hesitate to ask us all your questions or to contact us if you need an instrument to rent.