There's nothing quite like coaxing a melody out of a musical instrument, but if not cared for properly, that can be nearly impossible. From bumps and drops to extreme temperatures, we've got you covered!
Here are tips for avoiding some of the most common causes of damage to musical instruments as well as some maintenance and care best practices. Remember, with the proper care and maintenance, a musical instrument can be a lifelong investment.
Choose the right case
While gig bags are popular, they offer little protection for your instrument. Instead, consider choosing a hard-shell case that is able to provide your instrument with the protection it deserves. Not only do hard cases provide far superior protection against bumps and falls, but they discourage handling by curious fingers (a leading cause of damage).
Don't overstuff your case
Though it is tempting to throw your music book or other accessories in your case, this is generally not the best idea. In addition to the damage these items can inflict on your instrument by jostling around inside your case, they can also place stress on the instrument that can lead to damage!
Use a stand when not in the case
While a case is always preferred, they may not always be practical, such as when performing. When this is the case, always ensure that you are using an appropriate stand for your instrument. Using the incorrect stand or leaning your instrument against a wall or speaker can increase the likelihood of accidental damage. Additionally, stands are designed to avoid placing undue stress on your instrument, something that leaning it against a wall does nothing to prevent. It is actually very easy to damage the neck of stringed instruments in this way.
Beware of extreme temperatures
What's comfortable for you should be comfortable for your instrument. Cold and hot temperatures can take a toll on your instrument and can even cause permanent damage. While extreme cold makes wood brittle and can affect the tuning of many instruments, extreme heat can damage varnish and even soften glue and destroy joints! Always avoid extreme temperatures when storing or transporting your instrument.
Allow your instrument to come to room temperature before playing
A cold instrument can not only be prone to damage during play, but also produce a different sound. For best results and to ensure the longevity of your instrument, always allow an adequate amount of time for it to come to room temperature.
Avoid high humidity
High humidity can damage your instrument in a number of ways, from swelling and warping to mold growth! In fact, humidity can be so destructive, that it's often recommended to keep a packet of silica gel in your case.
Some instruments, such as pianos are especially prone to humidity damage (both high and low humidity). While you should always consult the manufacturer to determine the ideal humidity range for your instrument, the recommended humidity range is generally between 45% and 70%. Equipment is available to monitor humidity levels and can be purchased online.
Keep instruments in their cases
Keeping your instrument in its case is not only the best way to prevent damage that may result from bumps and falls. It also discourages curious fingers and helps keep your instrument clean. When not in use, it is always a good idea to keep it in its case.
Keep your instrument clean
When cleaning your instrument, avoid cleaners that include alcohol, as they have the potential to dry it out and can damage the finish. Most general cleaning can be completed with a dry cloth, but mild cleaning products can be used with a slightly damp cloth if necessary. Specialty cleaners are also available for everything from wood instruments to brass, making selection of the right product much easier.
We hope you found this information helpful and hope that your musical instrument is with you for years to come!
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*This story originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Connections Magazine, as part of a monthly contribution made by Disaster Blaster, Inc. Please check out the current issue of Connections Magazine for this month's story!
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