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June 29, 2004 at 5:07 AM

Q: What do you get when you mix Paganini + Dirty Strings + Alcohol?
A: A nightmare on practicing street...

While working on one of the Paganini variations, I noticed my strings needed cleaning! To be more precise, it was time for a common routine I have done for over 20 years, cleaning the strings with alcohol... I put the violin down, got the usual cotton cloth and alcohol, and voula! I was ready for more torture by Mr. Paganini... Or so I thought!
As I placed the violin under my chin, I noticed the culprit. Some how my clean, 20+ year record of keeping the alcohol from damaging my violin, came to an end when I noticed, not 1, not 2, but 4 blisters eating the varnish away from my dear ($30,000+) 1800's Schweitzer German violin.

I felt the worst cold sweat, I ever felt in my life time. My wife came upstairs, in a panic, because she said she heard me curse and yell like never before (I don’t even recall that), according to her I looked pale, blue and yes I felt dizzy and seek to my stomach.

“Luckily” my luthier and friend, was kind enough to receive me at her shop at 8PM after I placed an emergency call to her, informing her that my pride and joy (the violin) was injured.

Because of the value of the instrument, I am now without it for the next week, so it can be repaired properly, without rushing! I have only 4 weeks before I travel to Europe to play the Bruch violin concerto, and I need to work on it still... Sure I have other violins, but not like this one, the one I play all the time and I am used to!

How is it going to look after all the work is done? Will it affect the sound? Will I eeevvvveeeer seeeee my baby againnnnnnnnnnnnnn!!!!!!!


Unless you are prepared to suffer and pay, take all precautions before cleaning your strings with alcohol. NEVER clean with the instrument under, do it in an upside down way so if it drips... it drips away from your precious instrument to the floor.

Hoo! So you want to know how much is it costing me to repair this?
$200 + good practice for a week + a few years off my life due to shock and stress.

Sorry for the long “essay” but maybe my mistake (example) will help you save your violin in the future.



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