About Violin Scratches
Recently, I have noticed that my violin actually has quite a lot of white marks or scratches which are highly visible. The violin just seems so vulnerable and delicate in a way that basically every piece of metal or hard surface it touches, it leaves a small scratch. The surprising part is, I hardly see any scratches on any of my school orchestra's violin players' violins. So I was just wondering what you guys do with scratches, whether you just leave them, or take them to the luthier to cover them up. Also, what is the process involved in covering up the marks and do the scratches have any effect on the sound of the violin?
Considering you cleaned your violin with baby wipes that left a white residue, that is the culprit of your violin's white mark problem.
I have the same problem with my 18th c violin. The top plate varnish is very thin, and even a careless fingernail can expose the white underlay (perhaps that is what the OP is experiencing). So I keep my finger nails short and take care when handling the violin, protecting the front with a cloth when changing a string. On the other hand, the back and sides of the violin are virtually free of scratches - clearly a different varnish was used.
Yeah, the back of my violin has almost no scratches, whereas I can easily get a scratch on the top plate just by messing up a pizzicato.
It's pizzicato that does it for me too. I've never caught myself in the act but I think when I make a sudden lunge for the string with my index finger the frog is liable to collide with the top plate. I guess to make the movement more controlled one should ensure that any quick change to pizz is preceded by an up-bow.
If my violin had scratches, I'd just leave them because violins are meant to be played and heard, not oramental and looked at.
Most people leave the scratches alone. Unless you have an expensive instrument or care so much about its look, it is not worth it to revarnish or touch up just for this.
If you have a "student-grade" or other low-priced violin you might consider a product called "Scratch-Coat" that was introduced in 1978 by Fast Chemical Products Corp. (that may now be "Fast Industries"). It may be difficult to actually find this stuff nowadays, it may now be nothing more than a trademark: https://www.trademarkia.com/scratch-coat-72246547.html .
I don't get too paranoid about minor scratches, but may discuss them sometime with the luthier if there is important work to be otherwise done on the instrument.
Any tips for avoiding scratches though? Because I really don't often notice the scratches happening in action, so it just seems that the scratches spontaneously appear every week or so.
There are many variables - where are the scratches? Are they localized in one area or spread out? Without knowing, it is hard to say. I suspect they are coming from the bow particularly the frog as you bow and the way you play but I could be very well wrong.
What about during an orchestra rehearsal? (our school orchestra is very crowded), should I buy a violin pouch and cover my violin when I am not using it?
During orchestral rehearsal breaks I always, without exception, put my violin and bow back in the case and close it. Interestingly, in the several orchestras I play in I'm one of the few violinists/violists who follow this elementary safety procedure - the rest park their unprotected instruments on chairs, tables, and even the floor!
The finish on some instruments seems more prone to scratching or other disfigurement than others - more delicate, perhaps. I know my Jay-Haide cello seems to be one such. And of course many student violins sold these days seem to have very hard and easily scratched surface finish.