From Forrest McKinney
Posted February 1, 2008 at 07:18 PM
I've never needed anything more than a soft clean cloth, that I wipe down my violin with before I put it into the case.
for me, outside of what I just described, I'd take it to the luthier. I can change strings, chinrests, etc., but cleaning and inspection, that's what they get paid to do.
"The best way to keep your instrument clean is to wipe it over with a soft duster each time you have finished playing, before it goes back in the case. This prevents any build up of sticky rosin and dirt which cause varnish and string damages. We reccomend outstanding polish by Hammerl GmbH and Co. KG, D-91081 Baierdorf (JOHA®Glanz und Pflegepolish). Polishing of violins, violas and cellos is very simple and its result has an aesthetic magic.
"It is neccessary to carefully shake the polish before the use. Then apply it using a soft piece of cloth in an amount approximately of a larger coin, with a light pressure on the whole of the varnished surface of the violin. After that, with a slightly stronger pressure, polish it dry. If the varnish is given such care and fingerprints and other dirt as i. e. dust are removed, the instrument regains an attractive look of a brand new violin.
"If an instrument does become soiled with sticky rosin and dirt, it must be cleaned very carefully by a specialist."
I would say that you should rarely-to-never put any cleaning agent on a violin and then only a carefully chosen product.
Also, before I take my violin in for a soundpost adjustment I pour about half a cup of uncooked rice into the violin through the f-hole, shake it around, and pour it out. It gets rid of the dust particles accumulating on the inside crevices. You'll be surprised how dirty it gets in there!
I use alcohol to clean the strings if there's rosin build up but very careful not to get any on the fingerboard or body!
Everything else besides wiping it down with a soft clean cloth should be left to the pros.
1. Darkens nicked spots making them nearly invisible
2. Cleans and shines the wood with natural wood oils without harming the varnish! (I swear!)
3. Doesn't attract dirt or dust
that would be natural walnut oil. I wouldn't do it myself, for two reasons:
1: Walnut oil hardens. Over a long time, you'd actually be building-up a thicker finish, which could theoretically (over a LONG time) change the violin's tone.
2: Walnut oil penetrates. If you have nicks that go to the raw wood (past the ground) then the oil will soak deeper into the wood. This is absolutely a bad thing. The whole reason luthiers use a ground (besides aesthetics) is to protect the inner wood from oils and contaminants.
Granted, it would require a large number of nicks for this to become significant, but why start down that road at all?
Thanks for letting me know! My high school teacher introduced me to it and it seemed to work really well, but all that is VERY good to know for future reference.
The best thing to use is a soft rag.
Many "cleaning" accidents occur with alcohol (while cleaning the strings or the fingerboard with alcohol)polishes and other products.
Varnish in fine instruments in general is fragile and will react differently to different products, so only a professional may do this kind of job.
That said, not a whole lot is left, except a soft cloth. I know one del Gesu owner who's had the same instrument for about 40 years, and I don't believe he's ever had it cleaned, but it's spotless. All he does is wipe off the whole thing with a fresh silk handkerchief every single time he puts his violin in its case, and that's what you should do, too.
Personally, I'm a proponent of the spit-to-polish school, but only on the layers of antique crud found on old attic fiddles.
(Note for young'uns: the above is a JOKE, like approximately half of the other suggestions. Please be sure you know which half, before you proceed. Thank you.)
NEVER use rubbing alcohol on the body of the violin - not only will it destroy many varnishes, but most rubbing alcohol is 70% isopropyl and contains mineral oil, which will soak into the wood and may damage it. Scary. For cleaning your strings, only use 99% isopropyl - available at a good pharmacy - and hold the violin upside down so in case it drips, it only ruins the finish on your floor.
My own question is related to the chinrest. Obviously being a make-up wearing female, my chinrest gets a bit grubby after a while. It's a rosewood one so would a very slightly damp cloth be OK for cleaning? Rest of violin never sees anything other than a dry cotton duster.
I tried some of the Hidersol on the top of my violin, nothing bad happened but I'm not convinced anything great happened either!
BIzarre though this sounds, a suggestion made to me by a trusted expert is to use toothpaste on a damp cloth. I tried this, and all be darned, it worked, and very well so.
Apply and wipe clean immediately. 100% safe and effective.
Maybe we should start a thread for violin trivia?
Yes Ron it does sound bizarre...I'll pass
Abrasives: Abrasives give toothpaste its cleaning power. They remove stains and plaque, as well as polish teeth. Common abrasives include calcium phosphates, alumina, calcium carbonate, and silica. Toothpaste should be abrasive enough to remove plaque and stains. Unfortunately, some toothpastes are too abrasive, and do damage tooth enamel. Consumers should look for these less abrasive toothpastes.
Detergents: Detergents create the foaming action we associate with toothpastes. Foam keeps the toothpaste in our mouths, preventing it from dribbling out as we brush. SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) is the detergent most commonly used. Unfortunately, SLS and other detergents have been linked to the promotion of canker sores (mouth ulcers) in susceptible individuals. The presence of bad-tasting detergents requires the use of strong flavorings to mask the bad taste.
I agree with the preventative medicine approach that many have recommended. I wipe my violins clean after each use - even if I'm taking just a 15 minute break. When I'm done for the day, I also wipe off the strings with a different cloth, going in one direction.
That said, even with such care, rosin, dust, and dirt will gather incrementally, and overall, the finish can dull. I've tried different things over the years. With what I now know, and with some caveats that others have made here, I was lucky most of the time. I now use a polish-cleaner developed by the maker of two of my violins, Edward Maday. It's easy to use and very effective. Most important, I believe him when he says it's safe. The same man who makes his own varnish from scratch, makes this polish for his own (and other) violins, whose health he very much cares about. I know a few of the ingredients, but I don't think I'm supposed to tell! He says I can use it whenever I want - and I will make touch-ups as necessary, especially between the bridge and fingerboard. But with my daily hygiene routine, I find that a thorough polishing 4 times a year - once per season - is enough, and gives me a sense of renewal.
Ed gives this polish to his clients. I don't know if he sells it as such. But you can look up his website and ask. Tell him Groucho sentcha! (Just don't tell him Raphael did! Just kidding!)
10/18/15 Was reminded of this thread by a reference from a post on the current thread that just got archived re fingerboard oil. I still stand by what I said above but I'm down to only twice a year - a spring and fall cleaning. And I often skip the back as it just can go for years w.o. needing anything. I use it a little more often on bows.
Agree with Sam, toothpaste is a terrible idea
I wipe my instrument down after each practice session with a cloth - strings, fingerboards, surface. Rosin still accumulates on the surface between the end of the fingerboard and the bridge. I don't think I'm over-rosining. What gives?
SAM- I love your animations!
I just wipe it with a dry cloth after each practice and bring it regularly to my maker for soundpost adjustments and she can do a big cleaning if needed. If it is really durty, bring it to your maker. We lately had a discussion from a professional violinist who make a few spots on his 30 K violin using alchohol... He had done this for several years without problem and one day, he missed his shoot... Very sad story although his instrument is far from scrap. Be careful!
Good luck! Please, tell me the tooth paste is a joke ??? You don't really put this on your violin???
i've heard that the toothpaste thing only works when you rub it real good with sand paper. also, steel wool works.
Cute one, Sam!
BTW, I used to use alchohol for the fb, and fortunately never had an accident. But now I use Petz Rosin Remover. It's meant to be used on the body of the violin, so if a drop goes astray, no biggie. However, while it shines very well, I don't recommend it for the body of the instrument. It's too strong. In fact,the few times a year that I use it, I try to have a window open.
I stand by the approach I indicated in my earlier post above. But if your instrument is pretty far gone, then do take it to a violin maker to be cleaned. And then take better care of it!
I prefer windex
can't recommend it to everyone though.
I use the rosin remover mentioned above on the neck, but on the body, I take a lint-free cotton cloth, and put on a little orange oil. Not enough to get the cloth really oiled, but a dab on one corner, then rub it on itself until it appears gone.
This way, not much oil transfers to the body, but it does tend to attract finger oils and such better with the little bit of oil on the cloth.
Well, it seems that varnish restorers will continue to have lots of work!
How about javex. Wouldn't be cool to have a white violin lol Ennough childish things for now...
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