Do you apply polish (or varnish cleaner) to your violin or cello?

June 12, 2018, 8:48 PM · When I purchased one of my violins, I asked the luthier if I should apply any polish to the instrument, and, if so, how often?

I was scolded.

The violiin has lasted very nicely for the past 100 years (96, actually, but I dared not interrupt!), and would cope equally well for another couple of centuries without me slapping wax or chemicals onto it.

OK. I got the message.

But, in my last cello lesson, my teacher gave me a bottle of "varnish cleaner", made by W.E. Hill & Sons, and showed me how to meticulously work it into a small area of the top plate.

So, what do I do now? Indeed, do you polish your instrument (and how is cleaning the varnish different to polishing)?

Replies (5)

June 12, 2018, 9:15 PM · The only reason to polish an instrument is to make it look nice. Besides wiping rosin and gunk off the instrument, I don't see the point of cleaning the varnish unless it's actually got dirt on it.
Edited: June 19, 2018, 8:49 AM · Although I have purchased several bottles of different "violin cleaners" and polishers over the past 70 years I never used them much and not at all in the last 20 years after reading that the stuff can soak into the wood and spoil it and the SOUND it is supposed to support. I have been advised that if you can't clean it off with a bit of water, have a pro do it. Anything that might soak into the wood and not evaporate (oils. etc) might be damaging and should be avoided by ignorati like me (and most of us). Wax build-up is also something you want to avoid.

Even the bottle I bought because it was labeled "Andrews Violin Polish" remains unused in one of my accessories drawers.

I did try to remove "frozen" rosin debris under the strings' bowing area from a violin I purchased and had delivered from the UK in 1974 - but to no avail. The rosin debris was finally removed by Ifshin Violins around 1998 (for a charge of $75) when they could find nothing else that it needed - I had given them the OK for a new soundpost and bridge - but that cleaning was all they could find to do. Did a great job too. That is the ONLY one of the 4 violins I now own on which cleaning has been useful (maybe necessary?????). This violin is 47 years old. My other violins are 67, 45 and 17 years old.

June 13, 2018, 11:54 AM · Graeme, your cello teacher is a little behind the times. We in the luthier trade don't generally recommend that cleaners or polishes be used any more.
June 13, 2018, 3:54 PM · The best polisher/cleaner is that one the player NEVER USES!!!!
Use just a soft rag to clean your instrume.
June 13, 2018, 5:57 PM · Thank you people. I have a lot of confidence in the advice I have been offered here.

And, I will return the bottle to herself.


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