5 easy to follow tips for proper cello care & maintenance

Don’t let its size fool you; a cello is one of the most classical musical instruments. Legends like Yo-Yo Ma, Adrien-François Servais, and Luigi Boccherini have been using the cello to entertain crowds for many years. Its deep notes make it a must-have in any concert, and it even makes a lasting first impression as a solo performer. For solo playing, a lighter bow having light hair is ideal, while for an orchestra, opt for coarse black hair on a heavy bow.

The instrument’s versatility further makes it possible for cellists to push the boundary and create great sounds that gain recognition in the music industry. Most music listeners don’t realize that part of producing unique sounds lies in maintenance and care. Lack of knowledge on proper care often makes the instrument unplayable. So what’s the correct way to care for a cello? Read on to find out.

Find a Skilled Luthier

Over time the sound of a cello changes. The problem can be due to the strings or the natural composition of the instrument. Besides, too thick necks can easily cause hand fatigue, while an increased amount of string touching the fingerboard causes damage. When the fingerboard does not match the bridge curve, the cello produces an unpleasant sound.

For any issues related to the cello, you need to take it to a professional specializing in the proper maintenance of string instruments. The highly skilled professionals will make the sound better and the string instrument more comfortable for the individual using it.

Taking your cello to a luthier can be equated to students paying a professional tutor because they want to understand key course concepts. For instance, a statistics student who has a problem completing a specific assignment would go to a statistics homework helper. Therefore, if part of your cello requires repair, you need to take it to a luthier instead of fixing the problem yourself. You might end up damaging your costly string instrument.

Transport a Cello in a Hard Case

Often a cellist may be required to travel overseas to perform, or you may be relocating to another place. In such a case, how do you transport a cello in a plane or car? Most people purchase a plane seat for their cello. For day-to-day movement, you can use a soft case. However, you need a hard case to cushion the cello against any turbulent activity for long travels, including knocks and bumps.

Even when you have a quality hard case, you still need to cushion it on the sides and bottom so that when you package your cello inside, it’s protected on all sides. Wrapping the cello bow in a PVC shipping tube keeps the strings in tension to ensure the bridge remains in place. Before transporting it, pay more attention to extra-sensitive parts like the neck and confirm the zippers are secure.

Protect Your Cello From Harsh Weather Conditions

The drop in temperature is one of the major causes of the string instrument problem. During winter, keep the cello in a padded case or any case designed as much as possible to keep moisture out. Don’t place it in a stand. For added protection, invest in a modern two-way humidification system that provides maintenance and removes moisture during high humidity levels. Wrapping your instrument in a material that dehumidifies the cello helps prevent costly repairs.

Avoid Touching the Bow Hair

While there are several things you shouldn’t do with the bow, like putting it on the floor or tightening it too much till it becomes straight, the number one factor that most people forget is to avoid touching the hairs. This is because hands transfer oil on the bow, which then attracts dirt, leading to unnecessary costly repairs. Brushing the hairs with your fingers also prevents the rosin from binding properly.

Don’t Apply Excess Rosin

Insufficient or excessiveness of rosin impairs the sound that a cello produces. To determine whether the cello bow has too much rosin, a luthier inspects the bow hair. Excess rosin build-up leads to a scratchy sound. Adequate amounts result in enough friction, allowing the bow to have smooth movements on the strings.

If you play cello without rosin or add too little, it causes you to press much harder on the strings resulting in a hollow sound. How you apply the rosin also matters. To ensure smooth playing, cover the entire length of the bow hair with enough rosin. The moment you stop playing, check the strings and bow stick and wipe off any excess rosin.

With simple easy to follow maintenance, your cello would last long and continue to produce a beautiful sound.

Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites. Email: info@themusicuniverse.com