How to Care for Your Cello

To get the best out of your instrument you need to make sure you care for it properly. Here we look at just some of the ways that you can look after and maintain your cello.

The Bow

Whenever you take the bow out of the case hold it by the frog, and where possible avoid touching the hair of the bow as it can absorb oils from your skin which over time can stop rosin from sticking to the bow and allowing it to play properly.

Apply rosin to the bow if it needs it. A bow with not enough rosin will slip on the strings and not produce an even sound. If you have applied too much rosin the bow will feel sticky on the strings, produce an uneven sound, and leave rosin dust on the strings and body of the cello.

Before You Play Your Cello

Before you play your cello take it carefully out of the case. When handling the cello always try to hold it safely by the neck. Try to avoid touching the varnish and avoid bumping it against anything that could cause damage to the varnish or wood. If you take a break and are not using your cello but still need it to be out use a cello stand to avoid it falling from being balanced or propped up against something.

After You Play Your Cello

After you have played your cello take some time to care for it before putting it away. When you have finished playing, use a soft cloth to clean the rosin dust from the strings and body of the cello. This is an important step as rosin can actually damage the finish of the cello over time and dampen the sound from the strings.

When putting your cello away remove or adjust the endpin, and place the cello carefully back into the case. Ensure that the cello is stored bridge side up to avoid any strain on the bridge of the instrument, then make sure that the cello is securely ‘restrained’ in the case. Place all accessories, such as rosin, in separate compartments of the case to avoid them from bumping into the cello during travel. Making sure that your cello has been put away properly is one of the best steps toward stopping your cello from getting damaged.

Take a moment to also wipe rosin dust from the bow and loosen the adjustment screw before putting it away, this will help to avoid the bow from warping.

Storing Your Cello

Cellos are very sensitive to temperature and humidity, so correct storage is key for maintaining your cello. Ideally you should look to store your cello in its case in a room with a stable temperature and humidity. Try to avoid storing your cello in excessive heat or cold (such as in a car overnight) as this could cause the wood to warp or crack.

Top tip: If you are feeling the cold or heat then your cello may be feeling it too!

Humidity can also affect your cello. The ideal humidity for a cello is between 40-50%. A lot of cello cases come with a hygrometer to allow you to keep an eye on the humidity, if your case does not have one it may be an idea to look into getting one. If you find the air is too dry for your cello you can also look into using a humidifier.

Protecting Your Cello

Over time it is likely that there will be a build-up of rosin on the strings that you may not be able to remove with just a clean cloth. If this happens you will need to use a solvent to help remove the rosin from the strings, make sure to avoid getting this on the varnish. The body of the cello may also become sticky or dirty over time. Do not use polish or cleaning products to deal with this, instead only use cloths or cleaners made specifically for the cello. If you are not confident in taking these steps take your cello to a luthier or a music shop and they will be able to help.

It is likely that the bow hair and the strings will gradually wear with use and need to be replaced. When this happens take your cello to a luthier and they can change these for you. 

If you have cracked or damaged your cello, take it to a luthier as soon as possible and get them to fix this for you. Don't be tempted to try and fix the crack yourself as you may cause more damage further down the line. If ever you are concerned that your cello is damaged or not playing properly rather than guess or use home remedies take it to a luthier to inspect it.

For peace of mind in the long term look to get your cello insured against any damage that could occur.

Top Tips: 

  • Hold the cello carefully by the neck, avoid touching the varnish
  • Wipe down the cello, strings, and bow with a soft clean cloth after playing
  • Don't apply too much rosin
  • Store securely in the case when not in use
  • Use a cello stand when necessary
  • Store in a room with a stable temperature and humidity 
  • If in doubt take it to a luthier
  • Insure your cello

 If you have any questions or need any help let us know if the comments! 

Don't forget we have a great range of cellos available on our rent to buy plans, click here to find out more

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