Care of Your Viola
This simple maintenance routine will keep your viola playing and looking its best for many years.
Before you play
- Lift your bow out of the case by its frog. (Avoid touching the hair as it will absorb oils from your skin
that will keep it from playing well.)
- Tighten the adjustment screw at the end of the bow until the hair is about the width of a pencil from the bow stick.
- Apply rosin to your bow hair if it needs it. (You shouldn't need rosin
every time you play and too much rosin will leave a powdery mess on your
strings, viola, and bow.)
- Lay your bow across your lap.
- Lift your viola from its case by its neck. (Handle it gently as it's made of thin wood and can break easily.)
- Attach your shoulder rest to the end of your viola.
- Holding the viola by its neck in your left hand, raise it into playing position under your chin. With your right hand pick up the bow by its frog. You're ready to play.
- If you take a break, put your viola and bow back in the case so they don't get bumped, knocked off, sat on, or kicked.
After you play
- Set your bow in its case or on your music stand temporarily while you tend to your viola.
- Use a soft cloth to wipe the rosin dust off your viola and each of its strings. (Rosin will eat into your viola's finish, and excess rosin on your strings will dampen their sound.)
- Remove your shoulder rest from your viola.
- Put your viola in its case.
(Most viola damage occurs when it's left out on a table, a chair, a
bed, or on the floor. If you'd like to leave it out, use a viola
- Pick up the bow by the frog and loosen the adjustment screw until the
hair just goes slack. (Loosening the bow lets it rest and keeps it from
- Use your soft cloth to wipe the rosin dust off the bow stick.
(Careful not to touch the hair.) Put the bow in its compartment in the
- Put your rosin, tuner, and any other small items in the compartments
inside your case so they won't bounce into your viola and damage it.
- Put your shoulder rest, lesson book, and music in the pocket on
the outside of the case or carry them separately. (Don't put anything (music, paper, shoulder rest, tuner, etc.) on top of your viola
in its case as it might knock the bridge down or crush your viola.)
- Fasten the case latches and/or zipper. (If you forget to fasten the latches, when you pick up your case the viola will crash to the floor and probably break.)
- Store your viola inside where the temperature and humidity are stable.
(Never leave your viola in a car on a cold night or hot afternoon since temperature changes can damage the viola's finish and cause cracks in the
Clean the finish of your viola with a viola polish cloth. (A viola polish cloth contains enough polish to remove fingerprints and impurities, and is preferable to liquid polish which can harm the strings and bow hair.)
- If you get a
build-up of rosin on your viola, use liquid Fiddlebrite or a Miracle Cloth to
- Wash out your cleaning cloth or replace it with a new one.
- Bring your viola to the Amro repair shop at least once a year or whenever you feel it's not playing its best. We'll inspect and test it free of charge, usually while you wait. And if you have Amro’s Maintenance & Replacement plan, any repair and adjustments it needs are free. (A properly working instrument can actually make you a better player.)