Of course the bow should be loosened so it doesn't warp or break, and the violin strings should not be loosened so much that the sound post falls out, but should they be loosened at all for long-term storage?

Some say to store them tuned:

There’s no need to loosen the strings while you’re away

Others say to loosen them:

My understanding is that it's best to loosen the strings -- perhaps not all the way, but at least down about an octave or so -- to reduce tension on the violin. Depending on the quality of the instrument's construction and especially if temperature and humidity conditions are not always ideal, leaving the strings fully tightened can result in the seams at the tail block spreading, letting the tailpiece pull forward and warping the wood of the sides and top at the end button.


From practical experience, the bow would be loosened each time after playing, but the strings would remain in tune. So for long term storage, the bow would naturally be left loose.The strings on my violin - a French made from late 19th Century, left under the stairs in a centally heated house for approx. 10 yrs (yes, I thought I'd lost it in a move!), were left in tune. Taken to a repairers, who said there was no subsequent damage due to this.

The proviso HAS to be suitable humidity and no great temperature fluctuations.In its case. Personally, I'd say leave it tuned, but that's from my happy experience.With, I suppose, a half decent instrument.

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Let's take some perspective, and suppose your violin is not new.

As the saying goes, your mileage may vary and you might have been lucky in the past, but do not count too much on it.

  • Stretched hair on your bow render it less usable and less springy. It can also induce some warping of the stick. If the hair is too long (usually because it has been left stretched a long time in a relatively wet environment), you will have to have it rehaired. This costs some money and take some time. So, yes, take the habit of loosening your bow hair after every playing session. No exception. Give this advice to young players. This is of course even more important for long time storage.

  • A fallen soundpost can be set quite easily by a luthier and is not too frequent on a seasoned instrument (played regularly for several years). Most professional do not charge much to do it on a student instrument if you have still the soundpost itself and there is no need to cut another one. Unless you have struggled previously to find a correct setting with the help of a professional, it will not be a great deal. Some professional players used to have a setting for winter and one for summer. But pro usually have their instruments checked regularly anyway.

  • Protect your instrument from frequent and large variations in temperature and humidity. A breach or a crease on the table or back of a violin is a very serious problem, and must be dealt with by a professional. It can reduce strongly its musicality, its value, its very playability. This is the major risk when storing a violin or a bow. One of the factor is the string tension, another is the tension due to the soundpost, but it can happen in the absence of strings, simply by the mechanical forces between parts of the violin and the dimensional changes caused by hygrometric variations. Too dry and too hot are usually more dangerous for the plates. Too wet is usually dangerous when the soundpost is not stable enough and stretches because of humidity. Ungluing of a plate from a side is usually not too bad but stressful and requires professional care from a luthier. So, store your violin in the most stable place possible in terms of temperature and humidity, in a case, loosen a bit your strings (not too much) when storing for a long time, especially if they are of the strong tension type, learn about the hygrometry of your place by reading a hygrometer a different times and seasons, etc.

  • Be gentle when waking up your instrument and your bow, look at the bridge, tune smoothly and progressively, listen to it, do not play it for hours at once.

Shipping and new violins are another matter altogether.

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The strings should be fine providing there is no large change in temperature or humidity in the place the violin is going to be stored. If you know that the violin will be subject to changes in temperature and humidity, then it would be advised to loosen the strings. This is because a decrease in the temperature makes the strings shrink which could make them snap.

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from experience, the violin itself would remain safe either ways, but the bridge might get damaged (the strings will cut through it) and the strings might pop out if a drastic change in temperature occurs

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