The Accessory That Every Musician Needs

There is a plethora of instrument accessories that musicians recommend when you tell them you are beginning to learn a musical instrument. But how can you tell which accessories are actually critical and which are more a matter of preference? Plenty of instrument accessories aren’t strictly necessary, but they can enhance your playing style or practice routine. However, there’s one accessory that practically every musician keeps close at hand: the metronome.

Metronomes are relatively mundane … Read more

How Much Should You Practice Playing Cello?

If you’re new to practicing playing the cello, it may be difficult to determine how much rehearsal is enough. How long should your practice routine be, and by what standard will you determine if the practice is actually advancing your playing ability? Working with a music teacher can help you ensure that your practice time is spent wisely, whether you’re playing for a half hour or multiple hours a day. But how can you improve … Read more

The Best Strings For a Warm Violin Sound

While there are many factors that contribute to the sound quality of a violin, strings play a large role in the overall tone. The simplest way to create a warm sounding violin is to use warmer strings. Warm strings create a rich tone or “dark” sound and can balance out shrill or “bright” sounding violins. However, not all strings are the same. Knowing which are the best strings for a warm sound can help you … Read more

How is Violin Rosin Made?

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned violinist, there are certain essential violin accessories that will improve your performance when playing the violin. However, no accessory is more important than violin rosin. Rosin creates friction between the bow’s horsehair (yes, it’s really made with hair from the horse’s tail) and the strings of an instrument, causing the strings to vibrate more clearly. In essence, it allows the bow to “grip” the strings. Without rosin, you … Read more

The School Orchestra Instrument Selection Guide

For many young musicians, choosing from a selection of school orchestra instruments is like a rite of passage. Depending on the school, students can begin their orchestra training as early as nine or ten years old, giving them the first building blocks of their musical knowledge. But choosing which instrument to learn can be a difficult decision for young people, especially if they’re interested in more than one type of instrument. How can you choose … Read more

The Chicago Cellist Boom

When people think of Chicago, they probably aren’t conjuring images of playing cello. But believe it or not, the Windy City has actually seen a surprising influx of cellists recently. There are some live performing and studio cellists who have been on the scene for years, even decades. But many of these musicians acknowledge that until recently they were a fairly small cohort.

If you are interested in becoming a professional cellist in an expanding … Read more

Packing Your Cello for Shipping

Packing a cello can look complicated, but packing a cello properly prevents damage to the instrument during shipping. We’ve developed a packing method (we’ve shipped thousands of cellos since our founding in 1976!), and we urge you to follow the instructions in these videos when packing your instrument for return to Johnson String Instrument. Click on the size of your cello from the list below and we’ll walk you through the entire packing process.

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How Often Should You Clean Your Violin Strings?

Trained string players understand that violin maintenance and care is crucial. Taking care of your violin is essential for producing the desired sound. Some violinists take their instrument in to be professionally serviced every 8-12 months the same way one would with a car. However, there are also daily and weekly maintenance tasks that every violinist should include in their routine.

One of the most important elements of violin maintenance is cleaning. When it comes … Read more

The 500-Year-Old Amati “King” Cello

For those interested in the history of the violin family, there is a brilliant museum piece currently on loan at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. The “King” cello is the earliest surviving bass instrument in the violin family. This unique piece was crafted in the mid-16th century by luthier Andrea Amati.

The Amati family was renowned for their mastery of the craft and founding of the Cremona school of violin making in Italy. Their … Read more

The Benefits of Microfiber Cleaning Cloths for Instruments 

No matter the type of instrument you play, cleaning your instrument the right way is essential. There are plenty of materials that are designed to keep everything from violins to the upright bass looking and sounding like new. The method for maintaining a stringed instrument is dependent on its type, but there are some overlapping techniques.

Whether you are a woodwind, brass, or stringed instrument musician, microfiber cleaning cloths are an ideal tool to cleanse … Read more

Isabel Hagen: Comedy + Viola

If you’re a fan of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” you may have caught the debut comedy set of Isabel Hagen. Hagen is quickly making a name for herself as a stand-up comedian, but she has actually participated in several TV appearances and critically acclaimed Broadway shows as a different type of performer: a violist.

Isabel Hagen graduated with a master’s from Juilliard and has numerous accolades as a touring musician. But at the … Read more

What’s Wrong With My Violin?

It’s happened to the best of us: you take your instrument out of its case, touch the bow to the strings, and cringe at just how terrible the resulting sound is. It can be a bit scary when you notice a sudden change in sound with seemingly no cause. However, in most cases these changes in sound quality can be attributed to relatively common problems with potentially simple solutions.

Where to look first

If you’re … Read more

How Bass Players Can Lock in with Their Drummers

Musicians and music fans know that drummers act as the “engine” of the band, providing the “pulse” for the music. Often overlooked, however, is the all-important job of bass players – being able to lock in with the rhythm section in order to set the tone of a song or whole performance.

Whether you are a string bass player or play its electric counterpart, you and the drummer will set the pace and flavor of … Read more

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

When kids think about summer vacation, they envision all that comes with the warm weather and outdoor fun. But wouldn’t it be great if we could help them develop a desire to continue practicing and playing their stringed instrument during the break?

What follows are some helpful tips to keep your child’s instrument and abilities in tip-top shape and ready for their return to school in September.

Help your child find something they love to

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Do Violin Strings Go Bad in Time?

As you begin playing the violin and gathering all the necessary accessories, you may wonder: do violin strings go bad in time?

Unfortunately, yes, violin strings do expire. So any stories you may have heard about an old violin that was found in a drawer and still played perfectly the moment it was discovered are most likely not true. Regular upkeep —- including string replacement -– is necessary to maintain a violin in perfect playing … Read more