When you are getting started playing a string instrument, whether it is a violin or a cello, you will find that one thing that you need to consider is that you need to figure out how to care for it. When you think about it, a good string instrument can last hundreds of years with the right care and that some of the first classical bows that came into existence can still be played today. The key here is good construction and good care, and you will find that if you can keep your instrument in good paying condition that you will be able to get the most use out of it for the longest time. Remember that in many cases, it is only inattention and carelessness that ruins good instruments!
The first thing that you have to think about is good care and good habits. Most instruments actually get damaged during rehearsals, and you will find that when you are in a hurry or when you are only going to be gone for a moment that the temptation is great to leave your violin on your chair or your professional cello for sale on its edges. This care also extends to your bow; never leave it on a music stand, because that is just asking for it to get damaged. Similarly, when you are not playing your instrument, it should go back into its case with the latches closed. There are a number of problems that can arise from a case opening and spilling the instrument out.
Also make sure that you put some time into making sure that your instrument stays clean. This is something that can make a lot of difference when you are thinking about what your options are going to be and what needs to be done when it comes to caring for it. Use a soft cloth to wipe off any perspiration or rosin, which can corrode the surface of your instrument. Make sure that you regularly check any areas of your instrument that see a lot of wear or that you touch a great deal. If possible, avoid using commercial cleaners and polishes, as this can leave a second layer of varnish that can create an unpleasant sound. In terms of cleaning, see about getting your instrument cleaned about once a year.
Consider what you need to do to keep the bridge and the soundpost in good shape. Keep the back of the bridge perpendicular to the plane at the top and make sure that you keep it straight; otherwise it can warp. Your soundpost should not be something that you try to adjust and you will find that doing it incorrectly can do irreversible damage to the top or the back. If you have found that after a sudden change in weather that the strings are loose and that the bridge or the soundpost have budged, take your instrument to a professional right away.
Take some time and make sure that you consider what you can do to take good care of your instrument. This is something that can go a long way towards maintaining the life of your instrument as well as the music you can get from it.