The Complete Guide to Caring For Your Double Bass.
Massive instrument, massive burden? Well, no. Despite being the size of your average pro-wrestler, the double bass doesn’t take much more looking after than your average instrument.
Here’s our guide on keeping your double bass in brand, spanking new condition:
Keep temperature and humidity bang smack in the ‘dull’ zone.
You know those weather conditions that make you think, ‘meh, boring’?
Well, your double bass loves them.
Wooden instruments respond best to humidity levels of around 30 to 40 per cent, and love to be stored in the sort of temperatures that your house is probably dishing out already. Good news! All you need to do is keep your double bass away from extreme temperature changes.
Absolutely do not lean it anywhere near a hot pipe, radiator or anything toastier than average: excessive heat can really warp the wood, often utterly ruining the sound and making it less musical than….well, your average pro-wrestler.
Never under-estimate a good cloth.
If you play every day (and even if you don’t) it’s a good idea to use a smooth rag to wipe any dust, grime or rosin from the body. This isn’t just to keep the instrument looking swish (though it doesn’t hurt): build-up affects the sound of the instrument.
If you have let the build-up get too much for a normal cloth, then a small amount of water or specific instrument cleaner or varnish should get the job done.DO NOT USE NORMAL POLISH!
Don’t carry your bass by the F holes, and don’t lift using the neck.
These might seem obvious, but trust us, we’ve seen it happen! Needless to say, both of these are top of the ‘bad ideas’ list. Lifting in this way puts pressure on the wrong areas of the bass, and will often lead to you standing with a handful of wood that’s no longer attached to the rest of the instrument…
Oh, and don’t store your bow in the ‘f’ holes. That leads to snapped bows.
First things first, get a seriously good case if you’re planning long distance travel with your bass. This’ll help combat those smaller scratches and the natural wear and tear that always come with taking an instrument on the road.
Secondly, where possible, don’t travel with your bass. Unless you’re genuinely performing at a high-level, an electric double bass will often be sufficient. Secondly, it’s often much easier to rent an instrument in the town you’re travelling to!
It’s not totally uncommon for seams to open slightly in classical instruments, especially if you’re in a situation where you simply can’t control the humidity and temperature levels (it does happen). Fortunately, a crack in the seam isn’t as scary as it might look. Simply take your bass to an experienced luthier, and they’ll normally be able to fix the problem.
The important thing is to check regularly for these sorts of issues: the quicker you take the instrument in to be repaired, the easier any cracks are to fix!
Check the bridge.
It’s not uncommon for bridges to move slightly, simply because they’re not attached to the body of the instrument and the strings put them under constant tension. Over time, these little moves can actually lead to tuning issues, so it’s worth keeping an eye on them.
If you feel confident doing so, you can always loosen the strings and then slide the bridge back into place. However, if you’re not really sure, remember that you can easily whip your instrument off to a luthier: they should be able to show you whereabouts it should be.
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