Take care of your mandolin and you will enjoy it for many years to come! Basic mandolin maintenance and care described in this article is easy and should be done regularly. These are just common sense instructions but nevertheless I suggest you read them as you may find something you have not though of, which may help prolong your mandolin’s life and increase playability and good sound.
So, acquainting yourself with the parts of the instrument will make basic maintenance tasks just that much easier. For advanced mandolin maintenance tasks such as refretting, it’s recommended you take your mandolin to a luthier.
Sections below provide information about:
- Tools to use
- Strings maintenance
- Wood maintenance and cleaning
- Fretwood maintenance
- Handling of the Mandolin
- Traveling with the Mandolin
- Storage best practices
- Soft Microfiber Cloth – to clean the body without scratching
- Furniture polish – to clean the body
- String oil – to maintain the strings
New mandolin strings are typically dry. It helps to wipe the strings regularly with a bit of oil so that it is easier to slide up or down the strings when playing. A music store will carry oil for strings, but even a very light coat of furniture polish will work. You can use a soft cloth to apply the oil easily.
The mandolin strings should be maintained so they are up to tension when you are regularly playing the instrument. The mandolin is a rather fragile stringed instrument so you want to make sure that it is not tuned higher than what is appropriate or you can harm your instrument. Tuning is the same as that of a violin, or in the GDAE range.
Clean your strings every time you play your mandolin to get rid of the grime and oil that accumulates from your fingers. Always use a clean, soft cotton cloth.
Replace your strings on your mandolin regularly to ensure the best of sound.
If you are not using the instrument on a routine basis, then the tension should be brought down about three half tones.
Use a microfiber cloth on the wood to remove dust and give it a bit more shine. A soft bristle brush can be used in hard-to-dust areas, such as under the bridge.
Polish the wood every now and then. Use a soft cloth such as a diaper and furniture polish, but make sure the polish does not contain any silicone or wax.
Do not immerse the instrument in water as this will result in severe damage to the instrument.
It is generally a good idea to clean the mandolin fretboard each time you replace the strings.
Polish the fretboard occasionally with almond oil if it isn’t finished.
Always handle the mandolin with care, as it is a sensitive instrument. Keep your mandolin in its case when you are not using it. Here is a list of what to avoid:
- Do not drop the instrument as this could damage the finish or cause a crack in the body.
- Do not leave the mandolin unattended in the presence of unsupervised young children or toddlers unless you have adult supervision present at all times.
- Never place your mandolin upright against the back of chairs as mishaps can occur. Many repairs that are made to mandolins result from the instrument being knocked over accidentally.
Take special care when transporting the instrument, especially in extreme temperatures.
Make sure the mandolin is well-insulated if you are taking it from frigid temperatures into warmer environments or from hot extremes into air conditioning. It is advisable that you carry the instrument in a case that’s padded or cover the instrument in a covering such as a towel or blanket.
Acclimate the mandolin to room temperature. Don’t take it out of its case or remove the covering until it’s been out of the cold or heat for a while.
Never leave the mandolin in an automobile, especially during extreme hot or cold periods. Extreme heat during the summer or direct sunlight may damage it.
Do not store the mandolin near a front door or open window or heater or air condition. The temperature changes will cause the instrument to go out of tune.
When storing, keep the mandolin out of the direct rays of the sun as the heat can damage the joints and loosen the glue.
When storing in a place with moisture or humidity place silica gel inside the instrument’s case to get rid of any excess moisture that can cause problems. Not only does humidity affect the glue, it can cause certain parts, especially the neck, to warp on the instrument.
Buy a case humidifier to reduce the chances of cracks on the surface of your mandolin due to dry conditions. Wood will shrink in exceptionally arid environments. As a result, cracks can appear on the surface of the instrument.
Before clicking on the below resources that may be helpful in mandolin care and maintenance, an important disclosure.
Basic mandolin maintenance and care is easy and should be done regularly. Following the above instructions will help prolong your mandolins life-cycle and will ensure that you enjoy playing your instrument(s) for years to come.
Without a well-maintained instrument, you will gradually stop practicing as you will no longer enjoy playing that much. So, maintain your mandolin, it’s easy!
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