Caring for your Cello – Cleaning


When you have an instrument as beautiful as the cello, you need to care for it faithfully. Cello care must be regular and consistent if you want to keep your instrument looking beautiful, clean and in great shape. Cellos that are maintained well give better and longer service and less trouble in the long run, thus saving you time and money on repairs. Once you have bought a cello (for information on this, refer to:, you need to keep it in good shape.

Using the Cello

The instrument must be used regularly or it will no longer function properly. Even if you are extremely busy, the art of cello playing requires that you practice regularly. This also keeps the instrument in working order and prevents it from developing tuning and other problems. If your cello has been lying around for years, it would be kinder to sell it or give it away to someone who would be playing it. Alternatively, you can encourage your partner, children or friends to play even if you no longer do so.

Cleaning the Cello

The body

The cello must be dusted before and after every time you take it out to play. If you don’t take it out on a regular basis, then dust it once a week. Regular cleaning of the instrument will prevent the rosin dust used for the bow from accumulating on the fingerboard and the strings. Use a soft wet cloth to wipe the dust and the oil off the cello and then use a soft dry cloth to wipe it fully dry. If you feel that the dirt hasn’t gone with this, use some cello polish and rub it into the wooden surfaces of the instrument.

The strings

Keeping the strings clean is important to keep its high quality of vibration and tone. It is sufficient to clean them once a month in order to keep them in good working condition. Put the cello in a standing position. Take a soft cloth and put a few drops of alcohol on it and then wipe the strings carefully. The alcohol will dissolve any accumulations of rosin or dust on the strings. You must be careful not to let the alcohol drip on the body of the cello as it can damage the varnish irreparably. Hence, you place the instrument in an upright position before cleaning.

The bow

The bow needs to be cleaned just like the rest of the instrument. When it comes to the bow, you have to treat it carefully as it is one of the most delicate parts of the instrument. One of the first things that your cello teacher will tell you is that the bow is where you apply rosin in order to make it sticky and get a grip on the strings in order to produce good sound. It is not a good idea to use too much rosin, though, as it can lead to too much stickiness. The problem here is that the sticky rosin can attract all kinds of dirt to accumulate on the bow. So it is a good idea to clean the bow after each session of playing. Use a soft cloth to wipe the rosin off the bow after every use. If necessary, you can first wipe with a soft damp cloth and then wipe it dry with a soft dry cloth.

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