All instruments – old or new – periodically need to be checked for their health. Instruments are exposed to the warmth of the player’s body, to the constant vibration, to the changes in seasons accompanied by variations in ambient temperature and humidity. As the ambient humidity changes, the instrument may swell or contract, the soundpost once in its perfect place may gradually slip out of its place. Fingerboard may go up or down or develop groves which affect the ease of playing and the sound. Most of these problems accumulate gradually. Experience shows that players are frequently aware of problems accumulating in their instruments. Sometimes a player, specially a fine player, becomes aware there was a problem only after it is removed.
Tonal adjustment consist of non-invasive, tiny modifications to the position of the sound-post and the bridge. In some cases it may involve making a new bridge or a new soundpost. Periodically one needs to re-surface the fingerboard. Close attention must be paid to the straightness of the bridge and the fit to the top. Poorly fitted bridge will gradually indent the top of the instrument – a damage which can be difficult to remedy.
If you feel your instrument is out of balance, if certain strings or only certain notes sound duller than others, if you feel the sound has become too dry, too loud, too sharp or acquired any other undesirable quality it should be taken as an alarm – your instrument needs a check by a professional. Even if everything is fine, there are always ways to adjust the instrument for your personal way of playing. Being a confident player myself I take the quality of sound as seriously and as sensitively as any fine musician does, consequently I spend as much time as necessary for getting the best possible result.
A typical session of instrument’s condition check does not take longer than an hour and given there are no problems it does not incur any costs. A typical session for tonal adjustment may take anywhere between few minutes to a day if a new soundpost and bridge must be made and fitted to the instrument.