April 09, 2015
The Importance of Instrument Tune-Ups
When learning to play music, it’s natural to begin by focusing on technique and fundamentals like how to read sheet music. But learning to maintain your instrument is just as important as mastering your scales. Whether you’re playing a stringed instrument, woodwind, brass, or percussion, giving your musical instrument regular tune-ups is essential.
A musical instrument tune-up helps preserve the life of your instrument and offers many benefits to players of all ages and skill levels. As you become more advanced, you’ll begin to notice a big difference in instruments that have been well maintained, and instruments that haven’t. Just as a tune-up helps your car run smoothly, a tune-up for your musical instrument will ensure that you get the most out of your playing.
So show your instrument some love with a regular tune-up!
Instrument Tune-Ups vs. Repairs
First, let’s discuss the difference between tune-ups and repairs. Although both address the physical construction of your musical instrument, tune-ups and repairs require very different skills.
Musical instrument repairs are necessary when part of your instrument breaks due to damage or age. Often, repairs are complicated and require the services of a certified instrument repair shop worker. Here are some common examples of instrument repair jobs:
- Cracks or dents in the body of an instrument
- Broken keys, tuners, rods, bridges, or valves
- Problems with hardware in electric instruments
- Water damage
Most players can’t repair their own instrument. However, tune-ups can often be performed at home without special training. As you progress with your music lessons, your instructor will show you how to maintain your instrument with basic tools and cleaning supplies.
Make sure you learn how to tune-up your instrument and keep it well maintained. This will help reduce the likelihood that you’ll need repairs in the future, which is one of the key benefits of musical instrument tune-ups.
Now that you understand the difference between tune-ups and repairs, here are some of the reasons why tune-ups are important for your musical instrument:
1. Improve Your Instrument’s Sound
First, a regular tune-up will improve your instrument’s sound. Tune-ups keep your instrument clean and performing at optimal levels, which means your sound will be clear and strong. After all, a musical instrument works by projecting sound. If part of your instrument is clogged with dirt and oils, this will negatively affect its acoustic abilities.
Get to know the sound of your instrument at peak performance. By learning how your instrument sounds at its very best, you’ll be able to listen for any changes — and this will tell you when it’s time for a tune-up! Changes to the sound of your instrument may be subtle, however, so it’s a great idea to follow a regular maintenance schedule regardless.
2. Better “Playability”
Tune-ups also make musical instruments easier to play. A well maintained instrument simply functions better than an instrument that hasn’t. For example, maintenance helps keep the valves on a brass instrument from sticking. This means it’s easier to play because you don’t have to press as hard.
Although it’s important to develop a strong, flexible playing technique when you’re learning an instrument, it shouldn’t hurt or feel impossible to press the keys or strings on your instrument. If you discover that playing becomes physically difficult, this is likely a sign that your instrument needs maintenance.
3. Bond With Your Instrument
In addition to the physical benefits of a tune-up, regular maintenance and cleaning helps you “bond” with your instrument. Tune-ups can become a mindfulness meditation where you focus on each individual detail of your unique instrument.
For many musicians, developing a deeper personal relationship with their instrument helps their playing truly come alive. Rather than thinking of maintenance as a chore, think of it as a time to learn your instrument’s “personality.” You could also use your tune-ups as an opportunity to recite music-related affirmations.
4. Increase Your Instrument’s Life Span
As mentioned previously, tune-ups are also important because they enhance your instrument’s life span. Let’s return to the example of a car. If you don’t change your oil regularly, the engine will eventually become damaged and breakdown. A small tune-up can prevent a major problem.
It’s the same for musical instruments. By giving your instrument a tune-up, you’ll minimize damage from wear-and-tear. Your instrument will sound better and last longer than an instrument that isn’t well maintained.
5. Preserve Your Instrument’s Value
Finally, tune-ups preserve your instrument’s value. An instrument that has been well maintained is worth more than an instrument that hasn’t been kept in good shape. This protects your investment.
In some cases, maintenance may even increase the value of your instrument over time. If you ever decide to sell your instrument, you’ll be glad you performed regular tune-ups.
Get Repairs or an Instrument Tune-Up at a Music & Arts Store Near You
Whether you need a repair or you’d like to have your instrument tuned up by a professional, Music & Arts can help. We have over 200 retail stores nationwide offering certified repairs for most musical instruments. Call us at 888-731-5396 for more information, or find a location near you.