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When one plays rosin in the form of dust gets stuck to the strings, the varnish, the wood and the bow stick. The combination of perspiration, rosin residue, and dust from the surroundings is particularly aggressive and at times forms a not inconsiderable coat on the body of the instrument. This has a negative effect on the latter’s vibration behaviour. In addition a thick layer of rosin on the strings produces a scraping sound and impedes a freely vibrating sound. Regular wiping with a cloth keeps the instrument clean, keeps its sound unimpaired, and ensures satisfactory sonic quality.
One can do a lot of things right when cleaning string instruments. Most important is: every time after playing, remove the rosin dust from wherever it has landed using separate cloths. In order wipe off everything that has collected on the instrument, it is sensible to start with the strings. After that, the next step is to clean the fingerboard and then the area on the varnish between fingerboard and bridge. To finish, a fresh cloth can then be used to wipe down the entire instrument. After that it is the turn of the bow, after putting the instrument away.
Using separate cleaning cloths Wiping the body of an instrument that has traces of rosin on it will damage hitherto unblemished varnish. So when cleaning string instruments one must distinguish between the strings and the varnish/wood and use separate cloths for each. In addition, one should ensure if possible that the cloths do not shed any fibres, because these can remain trapped in tiny surface fissures. For this reason it is recommendable to use firm, tightly woven cloths. It is best to use two, if not three or four different cloths: one to clean the strings, another for the areas of varnished wood with rosin stains, and a third for the rest of the instrument. The bow stick must also be remembered.