5 Ways to Winterize Your Instrument

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Instruments, like many of us, prefer mild temperatures; ideally, around 70 degrees with humidity between 35 and 50 percent. This is because wood absorbs moisture and swells/contracts with the changes in humidity. During extremely hot and cold months, as your instrument travels from home to car to school, rehearsal or performance, it can undergo some pretty significant temperature and humidity changes. These fluctuations can cause cracks and shape deviations. To help your instrument survive the upcoming harsh winter days without incident, here are a few suggestions for how to best prepare it. (This is especially important for those of you with heavily restored instruments.)

1. Keep the Case Closed – Your case is your instrument’s first line of defense. A padded case is even more protective. Leave your instrument in the closed case as much as possible to protect it from changes in humidity levels and temperatures, even when you’re at home. Home heating dries out the air inside your house and causes humidity levels to drop below average. 

2. Get an Accurate Hygrometer – A hygrometer will help you measure humidity levels more accurately so you can plan accordingly. (Steer clear of small case-mounted hygrometers, which are not as reliable.)

3. Allow for Extra Time – When you arrive at your destination with your instrument, give it time to acclimate to the new climate in the case. After several minutes, open the case slightly and let it sit for several more minutes before removing your instrument. A good 15-minute early arrival can help a lot. 

4. Wrap It In 100% Silk – Try wrapping your instrument in 100% silk or tightly woven cotton to help protect it from the humidity. Choose your fabrics carefully; synthetics don’t have the same effect.

5. Clean After Use – Dirt attracts humidity. Before you place your instrument in its case, clean the strings and chin rest and wipe down the entire instrument. 

Feel free to contact us regarding questions about winterizing your instrument or repairs needed from damage from humidity and temperature fluctuations.