There are a few simple things you should do to care for your stringed instrument. Proper instrument care will increase the life of your instrument and maintain it’s value.
Bow hair should be loosened whenever the bow is in the case and tightened only for playing. It is important not to tighten the bow too much as this will cause the bow hair to stretch and eventually you will not be able to tighten it enough to use. When the bow is tightened, the stick should still curve down toward the bow hair. If the stick is straight or curves upward, the bow is too tight.
It is important to keep your fingers off of the bow hair. Bow hair picks up the oils in our skin that will eventually cause it to discolour and not hold rosin.
The bow hair should be rosined regularly. In order to get in the habit, it is best to put a couple swipes of rosin on the bow every time you play.
When you rosin the bow regularly, you will end up with rosin dust on the violin/viola, strings and the stick of the bow. It is important to clean the rosin off the violin/viola and bow stick because rosin will eat away at the varnish leaving dulled patches. Cleaning rosin off the violin/viola strings is also important because it can build up and affect the sound.
Violin/viola strings should be changed once a year. Strings stretch out over time and eventually will not hold their pitch. Strings can also start to fray. If you have a frayed string you should replace that string regardless of how old it is to avoid it breaking while you are playing.
Because violins/violas are made of wood, they are sensitive to changes in temperature. Extreme temperatures can cause violins/violas to go out of tune, and even crack. It is important to keep your violin/viola in an environment with a moderate temperature. Do not leave your violin/viola in the car.