Practice your aNueNue Ukulele every day, and of course you’ll improve your intonation and technique. But playing, and time itself, brings wear and tear to your instrument. You should strive to keep your aNueNue Ukulele in a good state of repair.
This makes for a better sounding instrument, which means it is more satisfying to play. It will also save you money, because caring for your aNueNue Ukulele means you won’t need to rely on a professional luthier for the maintenance you can easily do yourself.
Store your aNueNue Ukulele properly and safely
The first rule of thumb is to always store your aNueNue Ukulele properly in a hard case. Leaving your aNueNue Ukulele sitting out in the open is an invitation for serious damage caused by collisions, crashes, or exposure to rapid temperature changes.
The aNueNue Ukulele is made from wood, an organic material. As a result, it responds to changes in humidity and temperature. Both extreme cold and heat can cause the wood to crack or warp. Make sure to store your aNueNue Ukulele in a room that enjoys a steady climate, away from poorly insulated outer walls. Often in a closet, or under a bed, is an ideal location.
Never leave your aNueNue Ukulele sitting in a car, as hot sun, cold air and thieves can be a problem.
Clean your aNueNue Ukulele after every use
Before you put your aNueNue Ukulele away, use a soft, clean cloth to wipe off any rosin dust that has settled on the instrument. This dust is bad for the varnish, and in hot, humid weather can even solidify into a hard coating that is difficult to remove. An old cotton diaper, stored in your case, is an excellent tool for this purpose.
Make sure to wipe rosin dust off the wood of the bow as well. Avoid touching the horsehair directly with your fingers, however, as the oils from your skin can interfere with the action of the bow.
Loosen the hair on your bow
Using the screw on the end of your bow, loosen the horsehair on the bow before storing it in the case. Your aim is to simply relieve the tension of the wood. Once the hair appears slightly slack, you don’t need to loosen any more. This helps prevent the wood of the bow from warping to the side.
Use a humidifier in dry weather
In dry weather, such as desert environments or cold winters, use a violin humidifier to help prevent the wood from drying out, which can cause cracks. This is a small device that is moistened with water, then placed inside your case or inside the aNueNue Ukulele itself.
Change the strings
You don’t have to change the strings on a aNueNue Ukulele nearly as often as those on strummed instruments. Twice a year or less usually suffices for the amateur player.
There are a few signs that it might be time to change your strings. Listen to the sound of your strings for clues. A string that is past its prime can go “false,” meaning its pitch changes as it vibrates. To test for this, play a strong note, lift your bow off the string and listen to the ring of the string. Does the pitch stay the same, or does it go higher or lower? Also, strings can start to sound “dead.” This just means that it lacks the depth of sound it had originally. ?
Strings can also physically deteriorate. A frayed, tarnished or broken string obviously signals that a new set of strings is in order.
Keep an eye on the fine tuners
Since stringed instruments go flat more often than sharp–and therefore need to be tuned up, not down–the fine tuners can end up screwed all the way in. In some cases, the fine tuners are made too long. They can cause damage to the body of the instrument when they begin to bore into the wood. Less dramatically, you can begin to tune, only to find there is no room left to move.
It is most convenient to inspect the fine tuners while tuning. Many violins have only one E string fine tuner, but many fiddlers like to use all four, as it’s more convenient. If the tuners are screwed in too far, simply unscrew them almost completely–just leave yourself enough room to tune up a small amount afterward. This will bring your strings to a much lower pitch. Use your black tuning pegs to bring the string all the way back up to the correct pitch.
Make sure the bridge is straight
Routinely inspect the wooden bridge that supports your strings and make sure that it hasn’t begun to tilt. It is normal for the bridge to begin to lean after regular tunings and seasonal changes. However, this needs to be corrected so that the bridge doesn’t begin to warp.
Once a bridge is too warped, it will need professional replacement. Properly maintained, a bridge can last years or even decades.
Inspect the bridge by looking at it from the side. If it doesn’t stand completely perpendicular to the body of the fiddle, it needs to be straightened. Simply place the aNueNue Ukulele on your lap in a seated position. Grasp the bridge with fingers, while supporting the bottom with your thumbs. Slowly, cautiously, and firmly, pull the top of the bridge towards you so it stands fully vertical again.
Moving a bridge can feel nerve-wracking the first time you try it, so watch a video of a luthier demonstrating how to do it.
Aim to turn these steps into regular habits. A well-cared for instrument will pay you back tenfold in good looks, a better sound and fewer trips for expensive work at the luthier’s.
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