Rental Instrument Care Instructions

IMPORTANT NOTICE: William Harris Lee & Company takes pride in providing rental instruments that are in excellent condition, devoid of excessive nicks and scratches, and cleaned and polished to reveal the natural beauty of the wood and varnish. We understand that they are being used by children, and that a certain amount of wear and tear is inevitable. However, we also expect that the instruments will be treated with the respect they deserve. Please be aware that per the terms of our contract, we will charge customers for the cost of repairing any instrument that is returned to us exhibiting signs of abuse or gross neglect. 

Protecting the Varnish

Keep a clean soft cloth in your case, and use it to wipe the rosin dust off of the instrument before putting it away in the case. When allowed to build up on the violin, rosin dust can permanently damage an instrument’s varnish! If over time the instrument becomes excessively dirty, it can be cleaned using (ONLY!) commercially prepared violin polish. DO NOT use furniture polish, guitar polish, or any other substance not specifically meant to clean violin family instruments. DO NOT apply any polish or cleaner over open cracks, open seams or unvarnished areas. DO apply the polish using a few drops on a soft cotton cloth, cleaning one small area at a time. Never pour or squirt polish directly onto an instrument.

Varnish repair is expensive. While we know that instruments will at times receive scratches or very small nicks, we expect students to refrain from purposefully scratching their instrument out of malice or boredom! We will charge parents for the repair of any such damage, the cost of which can be into the hundreds of dollars.

Climate Considerations

Excessive heat, cold, dryness or humidity all have the potential to damage your instrument. Take care not to expose it to extremes of temperature or humidity. Don’t leave it inside of a locked car or trunk – the temperature, even on mild days, can quickly rise to an unacceptable level. Should your instrument be exposed to very cold temperatures, let it warm up slowly to room temperature before you open the case.

Shoulder Rests

Make sure that the rubber tubing (or other material) that covers the feet of your shoulder rest has not worn through and begun to scratch the instrument!

The Bridge

Your bridge has been precisely carved and placed for optimum performance. Should it be accidentally moved, take it to your teacher or to a string repair technician to have it put back in the proper position. The tuning process will pull the top of the bridge towards the pegs, causing the bridge to lean and eventually to warp. Check the bridge often and have your teacher straighten in when it is leaning.


Pegs that are well fit should be easy to turn and hold firmly without slipping. The pegs on your instrument are expertly fit and lubricated using a specially formulated peg compound. Should your pegs either cease to turn smoothly or constantly slip, then contact us.


For the best results from your instrument, strings should be changed often. How often depends upon the amount of playing. Even beginners should change the strings at least twice a year. If you have never changed the strings on an instrument, please first have someone knowledgeable instruct you. When changing strings, remove and replace them one at a time. Excessive string breakage may be caused by sharp edges or pinching of the string at the nut, the bridge, or the peg. A soft pencil lead may be used to lubricate the string at the bridge and nut. If you are experiencing excessive string breakage, then bring it to our shop so we may assess and and remedy the problem.

The Bow

The bow should never be over-tightened, and when putting it away it should be loosened so that there is no tension on the hair when it is in the case. This will keep it from either losing its camber (bend) or possibly warping. If the bow can not be completely loosened, then the hair is too short. Conversely, if you can not tighten the bow to the correct tension, then the bow hair is too long. Bow hair is very sensitive to moisture, lengthening in high humidity and shortening when the air is dry, so you may find that the hair length is no longer correct after a change of season. Whether too long or too short, the remedy is to have the bow re-haired. Contact us if this becomes necessary, as it is covered under the terms of the maintenance agreement.

It is important not to touch the bow hair with your fingers. Oils from your hand will attract dirt and keep rosin from sticking to the hair. Your bow should be rehaired when the hair no longer adequately grips the string, or when a large number of hairs have broken. If the screw of the bow turns easily but the bow hair does not tighten, then most likely the threads on the brass eyelet inside the frog have stripped. The eyelet can be easily replaced by a repair technician.

The Soundpost

Slight adjustment to the position of the soundpost can have a significant effect on the performance of the instrument. Soundpost adjustments are best left to an expert, as a poor fit can damage the top of the instrument. Should the soundpost ever fall down, immediately loosen the strings, as the soundpost plays an integral part in supporting the top of the instrument.

Extending the life of your case

Always close all latches and zippers. Any time a zipper or a latch is left undone, it puts extra stress on the hinges, and the other latches or zipper. Do not over-stuff the music pocket. This may put more stress on the hinges, zipper, latches, or case cover than it was designed to handle.