When your fiddle makes you weep

November 6, 2007 at 05:49 AM · If you end up getting teardrops all over your instrument, make sure you clean them off right away so you don't get puddle shaped dull spots all over the finish of your instrument. I know from experience these can be polished out, but it's best to clean them off as soon as possible. That also goes for saliva should you happen to drool while you play... sometimes you just lose control of your glands while playing, at least I do, anyway.

Which brings me to a sense of wonder and amazement... I wonder whose tears might be all over the beloved Strads and Guarneris... maybe that's why they're such amazing instruments. Just a thought.

Replies (27)

November 6, 2007 at 06:24 AM · Ew...bodily fluids as secret to great tone?

November 6, 2007 at 11:06 AM · Human urine (as well as cow's urine) was largely used in the past as a source for making art products and colours. Benvenuto Cellini in his "Tratatto" mentions "l'urina di un fanciullo vergine" (urine from a virgin boy) many times. I think the original "indian yellow" was made from cows urine, the cows ate mangos to colour their urine.

Some makers use stale urine to generate amonia to make their unvarnished instruments darker (but the instrument will have no contact with the urine). Our craft is an strange one isn't?

November 6, 2007 at 01:36 PM · chances are you are not going to have tears, saliva, nasal and urinal discharge every single time you play (may be i am naive), sweat is something to watch out for. it is acidic enough to work on the varnish.

November 6, 2007 at 05:15 PM · Hmm, since I am cleaning professional instruments almost daily, I can inform you that violins are sneezed at a lot, and they also give a very clear idea about what kind of make-up the player uses. It is also quite easy to tell if the player keeps his/hers home always dust-free and clean, or the oposite, by looking at the dust-content inside the instrument :o) Players don't think we can tell all their secrets, but we can, we can. Cellists are a lot more difficult to discover, as they hold the instrument further away from their face, and they are always slightly mysterious people too. But of course, sweat is usually the main problem yes.

November 6, 2007 at 06:59 PM · Ciao Magnus! And the French perfumes! The instrument will keep the player's perfume for months sometimes!

November 6, 2007 at 08:34 PM · Tiaozinho Magnus e Luis. I will not reveal the source of this information, but one luthier told me he recently had to restore an instrument the owner's cat urinated on. He wasn't too thrilled about the project.

November 6, 2007 at 08:48 PM · if you like your violin personal, wear your favorite cologne which will make the violin smell nice. Then switch instruments for a bit with a good looking violinist.. ha!

November 6, 2007 at 08:52 PM · Incidentally, Magnus, even if a player didn't leave their instrument out all the time and did dust their home, how do you: a) stop household dust/rosin dust falling in through the f-holes without stopping the sound getting out:-) and b) cleaning it out from inside the instrument with no risk of bumping the sound post?

I'm not a fanatical cleaner, to the extent that it ever occurred to me to dust the inside of my violin. Have you any suggestions on how that can be done just out of interest:-)

November 6, 2007 at 08:59 PM · Ah you just put a little rice into the f-hole, shake it about a bit, and shake it back out of the f-hole.

Job's a good'un!


November 6, 2007 at 09:39 PM · There again, you could leave it there to snack on, if you get hungry while playing ...

November 6, 2007 at 09:41 PM · Well, cat urine is quite strong... One of my dogs destroyed some nice rib stock I had 15 years ago.

It's worth remembering Steinhardt's gasoline soaked violin that he mentioned in his book "Violin Dreams"...

November 6, 2007 at 09:54 PM · I bought a used double fiddle case recently...my best two instruments now have a faint but detectable fragrance of (I think) cherry tobacco. I thought it was going to be a no-go at first, but it's definitely tolerable and should improve as time goes by.

November 6, 2007 at 11:12 PM · Greetings,

Eitan said,

>if you like your violin personal,...

But what could be more personal than household dust? It is, after all, about ninety percent dried skin sloughing off the house owner...



The rest of course, is prunes.

November 7, 2007 at 01:02 AM · "also give a very clear idea about what kind of make-up the player uses."

This reminds me of living with chix. Everything ends up with makeup on it. Abnormal amount of pink stuff around too. And foreign words like "Aveda" on stuff. And the house is cleaner than usual.

November 7, 2007 at 01:29 AM · greetings,

and there`s lots of dinky little glass animals that get knocked off the tiny little tables after too many beers.

Tough but fun. Always a pay off.



November 8, 2007 at 02:52 PM · Can't resist: ancient Chinese used to gargle with baby's urine... (did you know that urine is sterile?)now off to lunch ^o^

People like Claudio are the reason I take my viola out of state to be adjusted ^o^

November 8, 2007 at 06:31 PM · This has become a very interesting thread. Just maybe not in the way Jenny had anticipated.

November 19, 2007 at 12:07 AM · very true Stephen, very true. You made me really laugh there for a moment.

November 19, 2007 at 01:17 AM · Would you consider telling us which glands you lose control of while playing? Great minds want to know.

November 19, 2007 at 01:23 AM · glandzanov?

November 19, 2007 at 01:42 AM · Buri,

Your brief moments of entertainment,sometimes are enjoyable but --- do you teach phonics ?

Are you acclimated to living where you do ?

Do they have prunes there ?

November 19, 2007 at 02:03 AM · buri has mistaken plums for prunes for years, with surprising interesting side-effects...

November 19, 2007 at 02:20 AM · ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

great_________am still laughing !!!

November 19, 2007 at 03:22 AM · Greetings,

Joe, I am quite well versed in the teaching of phonics. I ghost wrote a book called `Teaching Children in Asia` which presents an approach that manages to build an effective curriculum out of phonis and games to a veyr advanced level. The whole word approach does not work too well because of l;ack of environmental input. However, the teacher training and work I do with kids now integrates all manners of approaches. It is like every field of human endeavour- once one gets into either/or dichotomy learnign tends to stop.

After 16 years I am too acclimatized.



November 19, 2007 at 04:27 AM · Buri,

When you fall,remain where you are---it is the eastern way of coping with major falling events.

Have you fallen recently ?

Do you belong with your fellowship of phonics students ?

Do your students phonetically respond accordingly to your suggestions thereof ?

Do you miss the continent,after all of your 16 years away ?

Has your fiddle playing improved as your exposure to a different culture accumulates in your resume ?

I'm not asking to be pervasive into your life but am asking you as a fellow violin player.

The British sense of humour has been attractive to me in my travels,especially in Ireland--when I spent more than a few hours in an Irish pub with a Brit--who was much fun to speak with and really made our nite with me and my 2 kids...

I assume,from your past postings,that you have adopted many customs from the area which you inhabit into your persona.

So,when you fall do you remain for awhile ? It's the Eastern way.

Feel free not to answer ANY of my questions,for my questions may not be appropriate to respond to on a public forum.

Tune your strings and polish your fiddle.I accept all repurcussions.

My first grade teacher says "I taught you to read,not comprehend".

November 19, 2007 at 04:36 PM · Yes that has happened to me also but it was the phone that might have gotten damaged. Pyoter, my friend who plays violins also just had to cry about his past.

December 1, 2007 at 10:08 PM · In response to the person who posted about Arnold Steinhardt's violin (I think it was a Seraphin?) that was soaked in gasoline- he mentioned that it turned out okay!

Also, Abram Shtern, a Russian violinist who was popular decades ago (he's really old now), and who I have taken a couple lessons with, tells me that he thinks spitting on your violin is good for the varnish and helps clean the rosin off... he's really not kidding.

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