Few musicians want to be away from their instruments for extended periods of time, but sometimes it can’t be avoided. Proper storage of your instrument and bow will ensure that they are still in good condition when you return to them.

Prep your instrument

Getting your instrument ready for long-term storage isn’t complicated. Wipe excess rosin off the stick of your bow with a soft cloth, then loosen it. Wipe down the body of your violin with a soft cloth to remove dust and rosin residue. Loosening the strings is unnecessary, but you should place a soft piece of fabric under the tailpiece. This will prevent the top of your instrument from getting scratched by the tailpiece should the bridge collapse. Finally, place your violin in its case and close it securely.

Storing the case

The best place for your instrument case is somewhere the temperature and humidity will stay fairly constant. Don’t keep the case near an exterior wall or anywhere the sun could shine on it. Often a closet on an interior wall and without a vent is a good place.

Bow storage

You may already have experience with “bow bugs”, small beetles that eat bow hair. If they infest your case, you’ll notice lots of broken or very loose hairs when you remove your bow. Sometimes an infestation necessitates a bow rehair. Since these bugs don’t like light, they prefer to target rarely-opened cases. To prevent your bow hair from being a beetle’s lunch, it’s best to store it out in the open, if you have a safe place to put it.

Waking up your instrument

When you return to your instrument, give it a quick visual inspection for cracks or opened seams. If you find any, or if the bridge has fallen down, you’ll need to take it to a luthier. If your instrument is no worse for its long nap, tell it how much you missed it, tune it up gently and you’re good to go!

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65 replies
  1. newbieviolinist
    newbieviolinist says:

    In the article it says we should keep the violin in an area that has a fairly consistent temperature and humidity. There are humidifiers for violin cases. We usually have a dry and extremely cold winter, so I was told at a music shop that I would need one in the case to prevent my violin from cracking. I believe their rationale was when we have the heater running and this would dry out the violin. Is there an ideal humidity/temperature range that violins normally need to be stored at? Would you recommend using a humidifier? If yes, does it matter which one(s)? Thank you!

  2. AutumnCleveland
    AutumnCleveland says:

    I have never heard of “waking up your instrument.” I usually just take it out, tune it, and play. Keeping that in mind is very helpful, what if there was damage to my violin?! Thank you for that insight.

  3. karen l
    karen l says:

    Will wiping the body of my violin with a slightly damp cloth damage it? I’m really worried now because that’s what I’ve been doing the whole time :S Oh no!

  4. fbellezzo
    fbellezzo says:

    First of all: Bow bugs? What the heck? That was a surprise. Secondly, I would really like to know, just like nwebieviolonist about humidity control. I live near Denver in CO and the humidity here during the winter is very low. I have an humidifier in my home but I am not sure if it is enough. It has killed the static electricity tough… I was getting tired of electrocuting my dog.

  5. Samuel Araujo
    Samuel Araujo says:

    Good idea to have a cloth under the tailpiece. I have had an experience that the bridge fall and made some scratches on my old violin.. the cloth would avoid this.

  6. margaretellen
    margaretellen says:

    I seriously never have worried about my bridge collapsing? Is this common? Also, I’m wondering if it matters what position the case is stored in? Upright, flat, etc? Thanks!

  7. hmoulding
    hmoulding says:

    Bow hair bugs. I’d never heard of them until recently. I did put my fiddle away for about thirty years, and when I opened the case again one bow had lost all, the other most of its hair. At the time I thought it was just time itself doing its thing. Both bows are rehaired now, and I haven’t noticed any loosies.

  8. ltran829
    ltran829 says:

    My bow hairs haven’t been too damaged yet, but the hairs are slowly disappearing…
    It’s still usable, but should I eventually get it restrung or just purchase a new bow altogether?

  9. Rebekka18
    Rebekka18 says:

    I was mildly terrified when I read about the Bow Bugs! I hadn’t played my violin in over a year and when I opened the case there was bow hair everywhere! However, once I’d removed all the loose hairs (most of which came from the old bow in my case which is who knows how old) I didn’t lose anymore. It’s been over a month now and I haven’t had a problem so I’m relieved to say I don’t think bow bugs were the issue!!!

  10. Will
    Will says:

    I hang my bows on push-pins in the wall. I guess that is sufficient light to keep the bow bugs away. Ya suppose this might work?

    A bow in the light
    makes the bow bugs not bite?

  11. Ariel Polycarpo
    Ariel Polycarpo says:

    Thanks for the tips! I used to have a very poor violin case. I just bought a new one and would never consider storing my violin in a place not appropriate for it again.

  12. Emi Smith
    Emi Smith says:

    I have to say, I almost didn’t click on this blog post. With an orchestral background, I just figured that I knew everything about storing my instrument properly. However, I have never thought about the potential of the tail piece scratching the body should the bridge collapse! I’m definitely going to be putting a cloth under my tail piece when I travel from now on. 🙂

  13. Dianne Adkins
    Dianne Adkins says:

    As a teacher, I have a collection of smaller sized student rental violins. Even though these violins aren’t being played, I try to keep them stored in storage ottomans or benches or even tables that offer storage. Still having a few extra violins and bows that don’t fit, these must be kept in plastic tubs, lid off is ok, but the objective is to keep the bugs out of the bow hair. The key is to avoid putting your case on the floor for any period of time. Stacked in a plastic tub or an open shelf has kept bowhair safe for years. So I always tell my students to keep their cases off the floor.

  14. Kevin DeSilva
    Kevin DeSilva says:

    “Bow Bugs” …….. *Gasp and Shudder* …. Munching away at the horse hair? …. Egad!!! :-p

    Thank you for this “heads up” … I will be very sure to take precautions!!

    *tries to close mouth* …………. egad :-p

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