How to care for your instrument in the winter

Unraveled strings, out-of-tune flutes and crackling sounds that aren’t coming from the fire can only mean one thing. It’s winter in Vermont and your instrument is singing the blues.

A Vermont winter can really take a toll on your instrument, like it did mine the other day. Just recently I pulled my fiddle out of its case after being in the car for a few hours, only to find the strings unraveled and the instrument completely out of tune. I’m lucky that was the only thing that happened. Cold dry air, wood stoves and the extreme changes in temperature from inside to outside and back in again, can do some serious damage. The dry air can cause pegs to pop, strings to unravel, buzzing sounds to arise and cracks to form in the wood of any instrument.

How can you prevent your instrument from singing the winter blues?

  • Use a case humidifier. Whether its a fiddle, flute, guitar or bouzouki, be sure to keep your instrument in the case with a case humidifier.  They are an affordable and highly effective way to protect your instrument. I use one by Planet Wave who makes it in all sizes starting at about $12.
  • Use a room humidifier. Great for your complexion and even better for your instrument. An instrument prefers to be kept at a humidity level of 40-50%.
  • Store your instrument in a moist room of the house. This means keeping it away from heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves or anything else that could dry your instrument out. Even if you have a humidifier, try to keep your instrument in a moist room.
  • Let your instrument acclimate. When bringing your instrument from your car into your house or any building, let it sit for a little while before you open up the case and begin playing. It needs to get acclimated to the temperature.
  • Bring it inside. Don’t leave your instrument in a cold car for a long period of time. Heck you don’t like to be left out in the cold, neither does your instrument! (I found this out the hard way).

I hope this helps you keep your instrument safe this winter!

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