When it comes to cleaning your strings, some players, like myself, prefer to have little clean-up work done before they start playing a note. I find that the effort required to clean a string is usually far too much for a quick fix. In addition, some players find that string cleaning can be rather tedious.
A couple of days after receiving a cleaned violin I’ll start to play the note I’ve just received. During this time I clean off as much dirt and contaminants as possible.
This helps the string be in the best shape for performance and playability of the next time the note is played. This will also reduce a number of string-related problems and increase the life of the string.
When will it be my job to clean my violin strings?
The time between when a string is cleaned and when it is played is usually only a couple of hours. The string should be clean and free of dirt and contaminants as soon as you receive it. Before I start removing the string my first thing will be to wash the bow, or “bow bar,” with some hot water and warm soap.
After the bow is washed I should put on a clean pair of gloves to prevent contaminating the air between myself and the bow. I put on a clean cotton t-shirt and use a white face mask that I use only for musical uses to keep debris and dirt from getting into it. I then clean the strings in as similar a way as possible to the way I would clean a guitar, and a couple of times a day. To be very safe it is important to clean the string as well as the bow at the same time. During this time I’ll stop the soap-and-clean cycle of washing the bow and then clean the strings.
After removing the string I’ll rinse the bow with water and then dry the bow. My bow uses a string wash in the bow bar as an alternative to having the bow washed with hot water. I use a damp cloth and cotton to wet the bowbar, and then I wipe it down with an old soft-waxed rag, and repeat these two steps until cleaning is complete.
When cleaning the bow I normally use hot water until my fingers are numb, then I put a stiff bristled bristle brush or a very soft toothbrush to the back of my neck. The brush is placed on either the string or the bowbar, which should sit atop the wet string. I’ll use an open hand to