I'll be away from home for about six months, leaving my violin (it's a 1910 Eduard Reichert, if that makes any difference) behind.

I loosened the strings to a very slack state, and as a result the bridge is wobbling and the soundpost has fallen down. My question is, can I remove the bridge, leave the soundpost as it is (rolling around), and just shut the instrument away with loose strings for six months? Or should I get the soundpost in place again and leave the violin in an ordinary resting state?

Humidity is not a problem. My main concern is the soundpost being dislodged.

  • Actually, having read into it a bit more, it looks like removing the bridge and sound post (and loosening the strings, obviously) can't possibly damage the instrument, since it's not taking strain from anywhere. So I'll just leave it without those parts. – SPS Jan 15 '18 at 18:31

A long time ago, a violin of mine (1890 ish) was left in my parent's loft in Midlands U.K. for several years, tuned up, in its case. Still works fine now, although the bow is looking rather bald. So, I'd say o.k. for the instrument, not sure about the bow.

Put the post back, a little tension in the strings, and don't worry!

  • "The plural of anecdote is not data" . – Carl Witthoft Jan 16 '18 at 13:24
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    @CarlWitthoft - I used to teach English, so am well aware of that. Are you now trying to say that one's experience counts for nothing. A lot of the answers here - and in life - are actually based on people's experience. In fact, without others' experiences being shared 'anecdotally', you probably wouldn't have been able to supply your answer... which has scant 'data' itself... Or did I miss the point again? – Tim Jan 16 '18 at 13:59
  • Tim, all you posted was your experience one time with one instrument in one location. What I posted was a statement of the general case - people who are playing their instruments don't slacken the strings ever. Every retail shop I've visited has all instruments fully strung at all times, no matter how long a given axe has been sitting around unloved. That's the difference between anecdote and data. So, yes, one's personal experience does in fact count for nothing. That's how science works. – Carl Witthoft Jan 16 '18 at 14:22
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    @CarlWitthoft - 'people who are playing their instruments don't... ' That's pretty well a given, but the OP isn't going to be playing. So slightly different scenario - to OP at least. Violin (axe??) in shop, waiting to be tried out - it'd be ridiculous not to have it ready! My experience was a start! All theories which want to become laws must start somewhere. Otherwise, how would they start? – Tim Jan 16 '18 at 16:36

Given that some of us play on instruments over 100 years old, and in most cases The instruments have never had the sound post removed other than for servicing & tonal adjustments, there's certainly no risk to leaving an instrument fully set-up while in storage.
Now, first of all, once the soundpost comes loose, definitely remove the bridge, as you do not want to place any compressive stress on the top plate in the absence of the soundpost.
I would check with a reliable luthier and see what his recommendation is as to whether to leave an older instrument without a soundpost, bridge, and tension for a significant period of time. From a physicist's standpoint it's quite possible that the top plate might be better off remaining in tension.

Anyway, let this be a lesson to all: strings are relatively cheap. Resetting a sound post takes time and skill. Leave your instrument under normal string tension at all times other than when adjusting or shipping.

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