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slice of apple in the violin case

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Thanks Dr. 461, I appreciate your reply. I had put a very small slice of apple wrapped in kleenex in the case for a while. The pegs were slipping, it is not the most used violin just a couple times a week. At first there were no posts actually against it, just a predictable descent into comedy. I didn't immediately have access to a standard humidifying apparatus. I thought I had read somewhere about apple and it seemed like a good idea....the pegs had been slipping. I did plan on getting a humidifier at the first convenient opportunity especailly after realising that my proposed cure was beyond being merely unorthodox, but really just my own experimentation.

The next time she opened the case she was horrified, "Who would put a chunk of apple in here? This whole violin smells like apple! Everything smells like apple!"

The apple piece was removed but the violin was not brought over to me that day to try to jam the pegs into the peg box tightly enough to prevent slippage while being instructed "higher, no lower lower, no a little higher, there!" The case now has the more standard ten dollar factory built bottle.

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I've found that store bought humidifiers tend to die after a few months - so... I have been trying to develop my own. Heres what I use, and it seems to work pretty ok:

Take a ziplock snack bang

Put a little but of that plant polimer stuff in the bag and hydrate

Close bag, and put several safety-pin holes in the bag

Wrap loosly with a piece of fabric - in case it leaks

It will hydrate for 1-2 months before you need to add more water

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I just use a plastic pill bottle with some holes in it and a damp

piece of sponge inside. It's Velcroed to the top of my case, up

over the accessory compartment.  I dampen the sponge every

week in the winter.  No slipped pegs, no cracks - as opposed

to the five-string hanging on my wall that's going to get its huge

table crack fixed "one day soon".

There's no way on earth that a damp sponge in a pill bottle is

going to do harm to any fiddle, and in my case it has definitely

staved off some damage.

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Don't bet on it.....it is makeshift, and it could definitely put moisture inside of the case, which is VERY VERY inappropriate. It is better to humidify the room, not the case. DO SO at your own risk.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
dr461
Don't bet on it.....it

is makeshift, and it could definitely put moisture inside of the

case, which is VERY VERY inappropriate. It is better to humidify

the room, not the case. DO SO at your own risk.

Please tell me exactly what harm might derive from keeping the

relative humidity in a violin case at a level 40 to 60%, which my

homemade humidifier has done reliably for several winters.

Please tell me also, how a

" text-decoration: underline;">damp

sponge in a screw top

plastic bottle with holes in it, secured in the case apart from the

instrument, could damage any violin, and tell me of any cases

you know of where this has actually happened.

Please also give me an objective answer to my experience with

violins that have cracked or popped seams when left out during the

winter, while ones kept in humidified cases had no problems.

I don't live in a particularly cold climate, but we do have

stretches of sub-zero (F) weather where it is impossible to keep

the RH above 20% in most houses.

My luthiery experience is limited to restoring a few old clunkers

and maintaining my own violins, but I have been a wood technologist

and finish specialist for about 40 years, and  have done some

considerable study and work in the area of restoration and

conservation of wooden objects.  All my experience and

training tells me that keeping instruments in a stable environment

is a good thing to do.

If you can give me objective evidence that this is a bad practice,

and recommend a better practice short of the impractical one of

humidifying the whole environment, I will certainly consider it,

and if convinced will change my practice immediately.

Bald assertions are not evidence, but if you can support them with

data, I'm eager to see it.

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Actually, the apple slice works quite well in attracting mice, which then chew a hole in the case to get to the apple slice, thus, letting in the appropriate amount of humidity for the parts of the violin which remain (chinrest clamp, etc.)

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Go use a homemade humidifier...I have a rather expensive fiddle, and don't choose to gamble on it.....your choice. If mosture leaks inside of the instrument, it will do severe damage. That's the best evidence I can give.

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Do most of you keep your violins in the case?  I keep mine in

a small glass-fronted cabinet with a meter in clear view to show

the humidity.  I keep the humidity between 45 and 55% by

placing small cups of water in the cabinet or removing them when

necessary.  The violin is on a raised platform in case a cup

spills or leaks.

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I've heard it said that a cut up potato in your case will get you from Nashville to Aspen safely. Over humidification can be a problem too. I recently purchased a new instrument (Italian mandolin) in the SF bay area, and the top cracked at my home in the mountains a few days later. My gauge read 45%. So now I use a sea sponge, wetted and squeezed pretty much dry. It seems to work. On the other hand I also began doing this with my 200 year old fiddle, and the neck just came loose. It had a smell of glue, and I think someone used titebond. I glued it back with hide, and it sounds better. I read a comparison where two items were baked, and the titebond released at 180 degrees, while the experiment was halted at 375 for the hide glued wood. By the way any water on your varnish or lacquer will leave a mark on the finish.

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Putting live things (like fruit slices) into an instrument case is asking for serious trouble -- mold and other living things, that can thrive in a damp instrument, and maybe even things that eat bow hair and wood.

It used to be an old grandfathers' trick to put a apple slice into their pipe-tobacco pouches to moisten the tobacco - but it grows mold in there too.

Andy

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This might not be as exotic as fish heads or fresh fruit, but my

suggestion would be to visit the nearest cigar supply store and buy

an inexpensive humidifying insert – the type you can stick

into a small humidor. They are made for supplying measured amounts

of humidity slowly over time, are easy to refill with distilled or

R/O water, and you can even buy a bottle of humidification fluid to

add to the water (propylene glycol) which helps to avoid bacteria

or mold. You can buy a variety of shapes and sizes, and they start

at less than $10. If you just want to add some of the type of

moisture absorbing gel (which also releases the moisture slowly) -

I think this was the diaper suggestion – which is sometimes

pricey in cigar stores, you can go to your local Home Depot and buy

a jar of Soil Moist granules (in the plant section). This product

is intended to be mixed with potting soil to keep the soil moist

for longer periods, but it is the same product used in inexpensive

humidifyers. And one jar of it will last you forever – a

teaspoon of it will soak up over a pint of water.

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Back in the days when I was a pipe smoker, I would put a section of citrus peel (orange, as I recall) in my tobacco jar. It did a good job at keeping the tobacco slightly moist with no danger of any spills or seepage. I tend to agree, however, that humidifying within the case for a non-junker fiddle should probably be done using one of the fairly inexpensive gadgets which are made for that purpose.

HS

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