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String Instrument Care Tips
By West Music Company
2/10/2017 9:48:00 AM  

String Instrument Care Tips

Caring for your string instrument isn’t hard if you understand a few basics! Read what our orchestra instrument experts have to say, or download this handy PDF print-out.

string care tips
Remember that your instrument is made of wood and can easily be damaged if not handled with care. Bumping the instrument against another object may damage the wood, cause the bridge to slide out of alignment, or cause the sound post (found inside instrument) to fall down. Bridges and sound posts are not glued in place, but are held by the pressure of the strings, which allows them to be replaced and adjusted as needed. If an accident should happen, bring your instrument to a West Music Repair Shop for service.

The Fittings

Pegs may stick in humid weather and not hold well in dry conditions. Pegs that won’t hold may need to be pushed in gently while tuning
it to the proper pitch. Pegs may slightly back out and loosen if turned without applying this gentle inward pressure.

The Chinrest

Changes in humidity may cause shrinking and swelling of the instrument and may cause the chinrest to become loose. In this event, please take care to tighten the arms of the chinrest in a clockwise motion, to secure the chinrest tighter to the instrument. A little goes a long way, only tighten enough to reduce movement.

Tailpiece/Fine Tuners

Check the fine tuners very closely to ensure there is plenty of screw space height to adjust the pitch. Be aware that the tuning arms located behind the tailpiece are not pushing into the top of your instrument. The tailpiece’s tail gut or wrap should be centered and fastened very securely to the end-pin or end-button of your instrument.

Fingerboard

During play, rosin can make its way onto your fingerboard as well as your instruments top. After each practice session, take care to wipe down the fingerboard and strings to remove rosin and dust to prolong the life of your strings.

The Wood

Wood may expand in humid weather and contract as it dries which can affect how your instrument functions. Do not leave your instrument in a car during extreme hot or cold weather as this can damage the instrument and the finish. Only clean your instrument with wood polish and a soft cloth.

The Case

Don’t try to force the case lid shut!Most instrument cases are only large enough to hold the instrument, bow, rosin, and small accessories such as a mute or pitch pipe. Only store objects such as pens and pencil in the accessory compartment of your case, otherwise they may damage the instrument when the case is closed. Shoulder rests are best carried separately unless there is ample room in the case or the case has a compartment to hold it. Papers or music stored in the case may squeeze against the instrument causing the bridge to break or the instrument to crack.

The Bow

Rosin is applied to the bow hair to create friction on the strings and make them vibrate. The bow hair should not be touched because rosin will not stick if oils from your skin get on the bow. Not getting enough rosin on the bow will result in faint and squeaky sounds. If too much rosin is used it will come off the bow and stick to the instrument. Wipe excess rosin off the instrument with a soft cloth.

When putting the bow away, loosen the hair a little so it is not as tight as when you are playing. Leave slight tension to help keep the hair from getting caught on something, but not warp the bow. Cleaning your hands before and after use will help the bow hair last longer.

The Strings

Every time you play and sometimes in the middle of practices and performances your instrument may need to be tuned. Over time the strings will stretch, wear out, and
sometimes break. Strings have a limited lifespan and need to be replaced when they get frayed, damaged, corroded, or have lost their tone. Replace with the same brand for consistent sound. Keeping your hands clean before and during use will help the strings last.

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If you should notice a problem with your instrument, bring it in as soon as possible to be serviced. Repairs to string instruments can take just a few minutes, several hours or sometimes several weeks, so don’t wait until it is too late! Contact your local West Music store to schedule a repair or complete our online Instrument Repair Form.



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Categories: Band & Orchestra
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Jeremy Jacobs - Cedar Rapids' New Luthier Extraordinaire
By West Music Company
2/10/2017 9:14:00 AM  
Jeremy JacobsWest Music is proud to introduce its newest luthier, Jeremy Jacobs!  Jeremy has set up shop at West Music Cedar Rapids and has already gotten to work fixing guitars and other stringed instruments from around the community. Along with Bruce Vanderschel and Kevin Halbrooks in Coralville and Tony Carducci in Quad Cities, Jeremy is a key player in our fretted instrument repair team!

Jeremy is a Marion, IA native who describes music as his passion.  He has been fixing guitars since his days at Linn-Mar High School, and kicked off his professional career almost a decade ago as a guitar repair tech at Guitar Center. He is Expert Level Certified in many types of fretted instrument repair including restrings/setups, basic and advanced wiring, structural repair, and fret work.  While Jeremy will admit the guitar is his favorite instrument (he owns several Les Pauls, Explorers and Flying Vs), he can repair or setup almost anything with strings, including orchestral instruments such as violins and cellos. 

Jeremys GuitarsJeremy is also a professional musician in his own right. He has performed on electric guitar alongside some of the greatest musicians in the Cedar Rapids area and has recorded with several local bands. The two main guitars he uses on stage are ones he built himself! He started off with just a blank body and neck, and assembled them using spare parts he was able to find. He even drew his own designs on them using a Sharpie.
When asked what made him excited about being at West Music, he answered getting to be on the same team as people like Bruce, Kevin and Tony. Bruce is known for his incredible ability to fix and refinish older, more delicate guitars, and Kevin and Tony have both created one-of-kind instruments for professional musicians.

Jeremy gives the following instrument care tips to any string player out there. First, it’s important to humidify your stringed instrument in dry weather.  Second, if you are bringing your instrument in from the cold, let it warm up before playing.  Finally, bring your guitar and other stringed instruments to him for regular maintenance!

If you’re interested in getting your strings fixed by Jeremy or any of our luthiers, please give us a call or complete our Fetted Instrument Repair Form.




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Categories: West Music Cedar Rapids/Marion
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Dry Winter Equals Dry Pianos
By Nelda Witting
2/7/2017 8:32:00 AM  

Piano maintenance advice and tips by Nelda Wittig, West Music Piano Consultant.

Piano Care

You may have just made an investment in a piano or you have had one for years. Learn how to properly maintain your piano in the Midwest where temperatures dip and humidy is difficult to keep level. Since 85% of a piano is made of wood, it is important that your piano keeps a consistent humidity level between 40-50%. Just like a living tree that responds to the environment, the wood in your piano will respond to the ever changing environment in your home.

When the humidity inside your home drops below the ideal of 40-50% humidity, you may notice some changes in the piano—some minor; some costly.

Wooden action parts shrink when they become too dry, and they become loose and start to rattle and make noise.  This puts early wear on your action and repairs in your future!

Cracks may appear in the soundboard (the heart of a piano), or on the bridges, or in the pin block.  Any of these cracks can be a costly fix.

Pitch and tone will fluctuate with the dry environment. 

What’s the solution? A humidifier system can be installed in your upright or grand piano and will keep the soundboard area constant. We suggest installing a dual system which will remove excess moisture in the air and will also add moisture if needed. You may want to also purchase a hygrometer to keep in or nearby your piano to have a continuous readout of humidity. Your piano will thank you!

Our experts at West Music are available to install a humidifier system into almost any piano, or answer any you might have about the care of your instrument. Contact your local West Music store for more information.

Learn more about West Music's piano galleries and services: pianos.westmusic.com




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Categories: Pianos, Digital Pianos & Keyboards, West Music Des Moines Piano Gallery
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Extraordinary Associate of the Month January 2017: Shivan Dohse Morton
By West Music Company
2/3/2017 4:15:00 PM  
Whether on the phone, electronically, or face-to-face, Shivhan provides EXCEPTIONAL customer service to flutists everywhere. Her product knowledge, skill as a professional player, and experience contribute to her amazing ability to turn customers’ words about what they are looking for into a tangible item. Want a dark sound with chocolaty harmonics, substantial resistance, flexibility, and a fluid mechanism? Poof! Shivhan has the perfect flute for you.

We frequently hear how much customers and our dealers appreciate her thoroughness and care. Those of us who have the privilege of working with her feel the same way. Not only does Shivhan do a great job of serving each and every customer, but she backs this up with a high level of attention to detail. She has most of our inventory serial numbers memorized to the point where we are considering renaming her Shivision. Ok, I might be going too far with the nickname, but it’s true that she memorizes serial numbers! Quiz her sometime and prepare to be amazed.

Shivhan loves what she does, which is clearly demonstrated through her actions. Thanks for your positivity, your enthusiasm, and your commitment to bringing your A-game every day, Shivhan!

Congratulations, Shivhan, and thanks for all you do!

As told by Cathy Miller,
Vice President



Tags: shivan, flute authority, flute
Categories: Extraordinary Associate of the Month
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