Tips for Zills – Tuning, Polishing and Elastic

Zills are workhorses for the professional dancer, and over time they can take some abuse!
In this post I show you some techniques to maintain and repair your zills. Nothing looks better than a bright, shining pair of beautiful sounding zills. As an example, I have used a very old pair that had been dropped several times and were horribly out of tune. They were severely tarnished, and the elastic was wearing thin, threatening to break at any time.

Black elastic, severely tarnished and out of tune

Black elastic, severely tarnished and out of tune

Tuning
If you drop a zill on a hard surface such as tile or concrete (perhaps the result of loose elastic!) chances are your zills are now out of tune. Over time, with repeated use zills can also become slightly out of tune.
To fix this, simply place the zills on a baking sheet in the oven at 350-400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Works like a charm!

Re-tuning zills by placing them in the oven.

Re-tuning zills by placing them in the oven.

Polishing

Comparison of three polished zills to one tarnished.

Comparison of three polished zills to one tarnished.

Try Brasso or other metal polish to buff your zills back to life! Use a toohbrush to get into all the nooks and crannies in etched designs. Be careful with zills that have a coating to change the color – if your zills are real silver, try silver jewelry polish.

Elastic
I use nude ballet elastic in all of my zills. Nude elastic is readily available at fabric stores, and looks phenomenal. Black elastic breaks the line of the fingers, and can be distracting. Look for 3/4″ – 1/2″ ballet elastic. Even if the slits on your zills are smaller, elastic easily forces through, and results in much more secure attachment. Be sure to fold the elastic over so it won’t fray before you sew it down.

Polished, tuned and with new elastic

Polished, tuned and with new elastic

I hope this post has inspired you to dig out your zills and check them out! If you have any questions or anything to add, leave me a comment!

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