How do I look after my Violin/Cello/Viola/Bow?

Avoid temperature changes, don’t leave any instrument in the car or next to a radiator.  Temperature fluctuations can cause the wood to crack and the varnish to soften and can make the instrument go out of tune by moving the pegs.  The instruments should always be kept in their cases so as to slow down any changes in humidity which can also affect them.  After playing, wipe rosin off the instrument and release the tension on your bow.

What strings should I choose?

there are many strings on the market and choosing the correct string can be a mind-field.  Choice is also dependent on the instrument itself and the sound you are trying to achieve.  So it is best to seek advice and we are always happy for you to come and discuss your requirement.

How should I choose a new instrument?

Tell us your budget so that we can check our stock and have the instruments ready for you to try.  We put out two instruments of contrasting character for you to try so that we can see which direction you are going in – we can then select other instruments within that tone range.  We find this systematic process helps bring clarity to what can be an overwhelming process when faced with such a vast selection.

What quality of bow should I buy?

For a player who has been playing for a few years and is up to grade 5, we suggest you spend about £400.  We do have bows from £100 upwards and suggest you come in and try a range.  All the bows we sell are personally selected.

How long does it take to get my bow re-haired?

Ideally we would like you to leave your bow with us for a few days but when this is not possible we can do a ‘while you wait’ service in which we can rehair a bow in about an hour.  You would need to call us first and book an appointment for this service.

When do I know when my bow needs re-hairing?

You can tell when it starts to loose grip – if playing a lot, especially if you are a member of an orchestra you will need to get your bow re-haired every 6-12 months.

What rosin should I pick?

For lower register instruments (cello, viola) you need a rosin that is stickier, these tend to be a dark rosin ie. Goldflex, AB, Melos, Szigeti, Artcraft.  For Violins you need harder rosin which is usually more transparent ie. Hidersine, Melos amongst others.  For Baroque Violins we suggest Goldflex and Liebenzeller.

What do I need to bring to rent an instrument?

Please call us to check we have the instrument you require in stock.  When you come you need to bring two forms of I.D. with you – one of which shows your address.  We shall ask you to sign a contract and take a deposit from you if you are renting a cello.  We charge for three months rental up front which then gives you time to set up a standing order with your bank.  You can then take away your instrument, complete with bow and case.

Should I buy my child her instrument or rent one?

This is not only dependent on the size of your child but also the level at which they play.  For a complete beginner we would recommend that you rent as we make it easy for you to upgrade through the different sizes.  This saves you being left with an unwanted instrument that has been outgrown.  We do take some instruments in part-exchange, but we will not part exchange instruments that have an original sale price of less than £695 for violins/violas and £1,750 for ‘celli. We may offer 50% (net of vat) of the original purchase price, less any renewals/repairs – providing that the new purchase is at least 2.5 times the original sale price of the item being taken in part exchange.

The quality of our rental instruments is high to give the player the best possible sound.

As you/your child progresses you will need to invest in a better quality instrument.  Please contact us and we can talk you through our current stock or source a suitable instrument for you.

What are the choices of cases to keep my instrument safe?

We stock a wide range of cases from gig bags, through to semi-rigid and hard.  We also stock the new Gewa Air Cello case which is both light weight and protective and the Fiedler Back-Pack to make carrying cellos easier.

What about humidity? How will this affect my instrument?

It is best to keep your instrument in its case.  Humidity can cause the wood to move and crack and can soften the varnish and make the pegs move which will take the instrument out of tune.

How much will it cost to repair my instrument?

We need to be able to see and assess each instrument.  We can then provide you with a free written estimate of the repair costs for you to consider.

Do I need an appointment to come and see you?

To come on Mondays or any mornings then yes you do.  You do not for weekday afternoons after 2.00pm or Saturdays.  However if you are coming to try instruments then it is always best to call ahead so that we can make sure we have what you are looking for in stock.  Also Saturdays can be very busy so again it may be useful to book so that we can try and spread customers out throughout the day, allowing more quality assistance.

Please get in touch with Philip Brown with any questions

There is so much to know about the choice, restoration, care and maintenance of string instruments, please feel free to contact us if you have any further queries. Our luthier team at Philip Brown Violins will be delighted to help on tel. +44 (0)1635 35465 or via email if you prefer.