2019 Update: Products That Help You Care for Your Instrument During the Winter
Winter is one of the toughest seasons on your instrument. Moisture – and mostly a lack of it – can present moderate to large problems. Temperature and humidity fluctuations bounce between outdoor extremes, indoor climate control, and the "in-between" places like your car or on the bus. These extremes and constant changes can cause issues that damage the bridges, tuning pegs and strings. They also affect the wood body of the instrument, causing it to warp or crack.
ITEMS FOR YOUR WINTER WISH LIST
For tips on how to keep your instrument safe, visit 9 Tips to Care For Your String Instrument This Winter. Here are some of the products that will help you keep up with those tips. Consider them part of your instrument’s winter toolkit.
- A high-quality instrument case
Storing your instrument in a protective case is always important. Protecting your violin during the winter is critical. Any case is better than none at all, but winter requires extra levels of weather-resistant protection, especially if you play your instrument outdoors.
One of our favorites is Revelle’s CrossTECH violin case. It offers SupraTECH suspension that safely cradles your instrument as it floats inside the case's hard shell for maximum protection. The CrossTECH also has premium nylon, water-resistant zippers, and tour-quality hardware. These are precisely the types of features you want to look for in any string instrument case, whether you play a ¾-violin or an upright string bass.
- Boveda’s two-way, choice humidity control
You always need to protect your instrument from humidity – too much or too little. Before Boveda products, humidity solutions could only add moisture to your instrument case – and required a bit of work and a lot of attention on your part. They were "one-way" solutions.
However, cold and warm air affect wood differently due to variations in temperature and relative humidity. Some combinations cause moisture to evaporate from wood, while other environmental conditions cause wood to absorb moisture from the air. If an instrument is regularly losing and adding water, the wood changes shape. Not a good situation for a violin.
Fortunately, Boveda has saved the day with two-way humidity control packets that can either absorb or release moisture into the air, depending on what's needed. Boveda packets work all year round to create a stable environment for your instrument – and require no maintenance and no guesswork! Just change out the packets when they become crunchy.
The packets nestle into your case in simple sleeves that come with a Starter Kit. They keep your string instrument in a humidity-controlled environment regardless of the weather outside. These packs remove excess moisture from the air and store it, releasing it back when humidity levels drop too low. The Boveda system keeps the humidity level in cases between 40% and 60%, the ideal range to protect a wooden instrument.
- Blustream App
We’re big fans of apps designed just for string musicians, and BluStream falls into this category. If you're worried your Boveda packet may have outlived its shelf life (typically two-years or longer if unopened), the BluStream app and humidity sensor are the solutions.
The BluStream humidity sensor measures the relative humidity level inside your instrument case. Use the BluStream app to set the acceptable relative humidity range for your case. For a wood instrument, this will typically be between 40 and 50%. If the relative humidity inside your case falls outside your set range, you’ll get an alert on your phone.
- Instrument-specific polish
Polishing your instrument has two main benefits. First, it keeps the finish clean of dust, rosin build-up, oils from fingers and hands, and environmental particulates. However, polishing your instrument with an instrument-specific polish also keeps the finish in good shape and helps it withstand temporary moisture exposure without settling into the finish. Hill Violin Cleaner and Polish is a good option or you can try an organic method we describe here.
Your violin is a serious investment and it's worth investing the time and effort to keep it in top shape. More importantly, musicians can't be any better than their instruments allow. Protect the quality of your instrument to enhance the quality of your playing!