Raised grain on the top

September 5, 2011 at 07:39 PM ·

I was thinking about it. I have two violins from the same workshop, they both sound lovely, I love them to bits. One has oil varnish, it's very soft and has raised grain on top, the other one on the top doesn't have any raised grain, it was too shiny and the varnish didn't feel oily at all, so I decided to take the risk and use fine sandpaper on the top, now it looks much better, more natural, thinner, and the shine is gone, so I am glad I took the risk myself. I don't like thick varnish, it doesn't allow the wood to breath at all. So, the shiny look has gone but the grain are still flat, do I like it? Yes, personally I like both, raised or not raised, it doesn't affect the sound, but at the same time I was wondering if I can achieve raised grain with some DIY...
As far as I know, the raised grain can be achieved by:
1)Not using sandpaper before varnishing, but only scraping it.
2)Dampening with a cloth before varnishing.
3)Use a knife edge scraper.
4)Oil drying through the years (but it might take a long time)
5)Cutting with a fine blade between the grain (I don't want to try that one).

And now let's talk finally about 6) my plan...which is to use boiling water, allowing the spruce to absorbe the steam coming from the kettle (violin not too close to the boiling water of course), and hopefully as a result this will create raised grain. What do you think? Has anyone ever tried this simple method?

Replies (100)

September 5, 2011 at 07:58 PM ·

Oh dear!

How about pressing it in a hot waffle iron.......

September 5, 2011 at 08:18 PM ·

It's either a wind up, or .... mind you, there are a lot of nutters in the UK ...

September 5, 2011 at 08:58 PM ·

 LOL Peter 

September 5, 2011 at 11:50 PM ·

 This tool can bring out the grain in wood :

Allway Stainless Steel Wire BrushAllway Stainless Steel Wire Brush

Hope your violins came from a garage sale if you are contemplating hot steam. Or the above tool.

 

 

September 6, 2011 at 12:14 AM ·

My head hurts

September 6, 2011 at 12:41 AM ·

no. NO. No. nonononono.

September 6, 2011 at 12:46 AM ·

DIY is allways a bad idea with violins, believe me!!!

www.manfio.com

September 6, 2011 at 01:51 AM ·

When one of the worlds most celebrated contemporary violin makers reads your post and says "Oh dear!" that's not a good sign. You've asked for advice so now's the time to listen to it! David and Luis know fiddles inside and out...literally. Don't do it! This is like an episode of Law & Order SVU or something!

                                                          -M

September 6, 2011 at 01:52 AM ·

Special Violin Unit :c)

September 6, 2011 at 02:03 AM ·

Has the OP considered what the hot steam from boiling water could do to the water-soluble glue holding the violin together? A video of the procedure would be instructive.

September 6, 2011 at 02:33 AM ·

 Sounds like the OP may, more literally than intended "love them to bits..." and pieces...

September 6, 2011 at 03:16 AM ·

Try fertilizer... or manure if you prefer organic.  ;)

September 6, 2011 at 07:09 AM ·

In all seriousness I've been told that you should soak the violin belly in pig's urine for a couple of days, 50 hours is the reccommendation. It brings out the grain and the instrument sounds great. Be careful not to make a pig's ear of it though, and when I told my luthier about it he claimed I was telling a porky.

I think you should ration this technique to no more than twice a year though or the fiddle may sound like pig's trotters, and smell like pork belly ...

September 6, 2011 at 07:28 AM ·

Strap it to the top of your car and drive through a car wash.  You then have to flip it and drive through again. 

Actually, I think the only good way to raise grain is plant wheat...

September 6, 2011 at 01:00 PM ·

 Elise--even then, you can't raise grain out of spruce...you need wheat seeds, right?

September 6, 2011 at 01:07 PM ·

Hmmm, growing sprouts on a violin. A violin shaped Chia Pet?

That would have some texture, and one could snack while playing....

September 6, 2011 at 01:26 PM · mine is not to reason why.......to answer the question, wiping on water willraise the grain. steaming the wood is a common procedure to prepare the wood for bending.

September 6, 2011 at 02:14 PM ·

Arnie: to answer the question, wiping on water willraise the grain

so I was right the first time with the car wash!!  And if you pay for the wax job that will nicely replace the lost varnish... :)

September 6, 2011 at 02:39 PM ·

Arnie, we don't really know what we're dealing with here. On a surface where the grain has already been raised with water a few times, and subsequently smoothed a few times, moistening may do almost nothing. When a surface has already been sealed and varnished, moisture may have little or no impact. This may have had both already.

The OP hasn't specified whether his questions relate to the completed violin he's already messed with, or to a fresh wood surface. In the violinmaking field, a raised grain on the top usually refers to a surface which has been finished with a cabinet scraper, rather than being sanded. The scraper cuts the hard "winter" grain, but burnishes the soft summer grain more, and this soft area will end up raised on its own, even without moistening.

September 6, 2011 at 04:05 PM ·

Didn't the Gypsies supposedly bury a violin under a tree during the full moon and leave it for 50 years or something?  Maybe hoping a passing truffle pig would root it out.  Does wonders for the grain, I'll bet.

September 6, 2011 at 05:58 PM ·

"Has the OP considered what the hot steam from boiling water could do to the water-soluble glue holding the violin together? A video of the procedure would be instructive."

Of course I have considered that, I am not going to stay holding the violin for too long above the kettle, gah.

 

"The OP hasn't specified whether his questions relate to the completed violin he's already messed with, or to a fresh wood surface"

I didn't "messed with" it,  I simply made the varnish thinner, more natural and removed the gloss with fine sand paper, my question  is related to my completed violin, not to a fresh surface.

 

"mine is not to reason why.......to answer the question, wiping on water willraise the grain. steaming the wood is a common procedure to prepare the wood for bending."

Yes but I wouldn't bend anything, I was thinking that steaming water would be absorbed much faster than cool water or hot water without damaging the surface.Think about the steam and the vapour used on our skin to cleanse detox and rejuvenating it , the skin will feel plump and saturated with the water coming from steam but from the various books I’ve read, hot water can leave skin feeling dry and irritated, plus may cause dry skin types to overproduce more oil. In addition, it will aggravate broken capillaries on the skin too. Any other suggestion is welcome before I go ahead or abort my plan...

September 6, 2011 at 10:09 PM ·

Then go for it. I hope other readers will understand that I am saying this with the knowledge (from another forum) that these are cheap and disposable violins.

One problem you may run into: Heat the wood, expanding the air inside, while also softening the varnish with the heat, and you may have a problem with blisters forming in the varnish

September 7, 2011 at 10:19 AM ·

"I didn't "messed with" it,  I simply made the varnish thinner, more natural and removed the gloss with fine sand paper...."

It would probably be negligent for me to let that go without commenting. Yes, you messed with it. This is something I would highly advise against doing.  When I've seen it done, the people who did it  were typically happily oblivious to how much they had screwed things up.

People in my trade will generally advise against those who don't have specialized and solid training doing their own work, or experimenting with their equipment. It's not that we're greedy, just that we've seen too many nightmares.

I have an instrument here right now where someone had moved the soundpost, but failed to realize that it had rotated 90 degrees while being moved. This left sharp non-fitting edges in contact with the top and back, and further moving had left some trenches.

September 7, 2011 at 10:23 AM ·

"I am saying this with the knowledge (from another forum) that these are cheap and disposable violins."

 

I have no doubt that they are cheap, but disposable?  Why you say that only because their price is more competitive? They sound amazing, they sound as good as the expensive ones, I liked it so much that I bought a second one from the same company. It would be much more honest if you explain why they are disposable, don't you think it's very rude to bash all the time violins only because they are cheap and especially from China? I have the maximum respect for every luthier in this world, but please don't patronize us players all the time regarding tone, because you can't patronize any player regarding tone. I never judge an instrument by its price tag but by the sound. If you are a good luthier you should stop bashing chinese workshop and take on board every comments by the players, you should be less angry about luthiers losing the job because of China. Many companies are shutting down, think about how many record companies are closing after the spread of mp3 on the web. Probably I would feel angry if I were in your situation but I would never post any disrespectful comments about chinese violins, that's what fair competition it's all about. I take on board all your advices regarding my plan to use steam from the kettle and I thank you very much for that, and so far I am planning to abort my plan, but please don't be rude about chinese violins only because they are cheap. just 10 years ago it was unthinkable to get a good chinese violin for that price, now it's possible, and as a player I am honestly very happy about it.

September 7, 2011 at 10:29 AM ·

"It would probably be negligent for me to let that go without commenting. Yes, you messed with it. This is something I would highly advise against doing.  When I've seen it done, the people who did it  were typically happily oblivious to how much they had screwed things up. "

 

Yes but you still avoid explaining why I messed with it. I used fine sand paper, what is wrong exactly with it? What should I use instead?

September 7, 2011 at 10:46 AM ·

Pold, it appears that you're off in fantasy land about the motives behind my comments. First off, I'm not hurtin' for business. Second, I never mentioned that this instrument was Chinese. You did. To me, the country of origin wasn't  significant. As to them being cheap and disposable, I took that from your comments on another forum, where you said:

"They are very cheap..... So as you say, If I do some damage it's no big deal, i am not losing anything."

If you are happy with this instrument, that's fine, although if you truly were, you probably wouldn't be trying so hard change it.  ;-)

I also mentioned that they were cheap and disposable instruments as a means of cutting you some slack, and to give direction to others on where these kinds of experiments are appropriate. If you were doing these things on better instruments, I would need to report you immediately to VAPSA, the Violin Abuse Protective Services Agency.  LOL

September 7, 2011 at 11:13 AM ·

LOL, I said it's not a big deal I didn't say they are disposable ;)

September 7, 2011 at 11:22 AM ·

A difference in semantics, I guess.

September 7, 2011 at 01:14 PM ·

Well the fiddle will be disposable soon enough or should I say trashed. I suspect that the original post was meant to be provocative and that these types of responses were anticipated. If I'm wrong I apologize.

      -M

September 7, 2011 at 01:29 PM ·

David-No need to call SVVU (Special Violin Victims Unit) I just got a call from downtown they said let him jump. If you of all people can't get through to him it's a done deal!

        -M

September 7, 2011 at 01:52 PM ·

I thought we should call the FBI, Fiddleral Bureau of Investigations, er...
I'll get my coat.
 

September 7, 2011 at 03:07 PM ·

I suppose the only (very) faint silver lining is that violins come with their own coffins... satin lined...:(

September 7, 2011 at 07:40 PM ·

I'm just wondering Mr pold poldi - what sort of violinist you are? An amateur, a professional? You claim to be an expert on Chinese violins - but there are a lot of so called "experts" out there (especially in the UK)  - but I'm afraid I am suspicious about a lot of them. I am just questioning your expertise as a player, as you seem to be so absolutely certain of your opinions.

September 8, 2011 at 02:42 PM ·

I am just learning violin, I consider and will always like to consider myself as a self-taught because the lessons I got are not formal, strict and rigid at all, I never claimed to be an expert in chinese violins (where did you read it?), I started by watching youtube lessons, and a friend of mine whith 8th grade in violin is giving me tips for free (how could I refuse!), she is very open minded, no pressure and no stress involved, I choose the tunes and drive every lesson, just pure fun. I am an adult and have been playing piano and electric guitar for a long time. Since I've always loved baroque music I decided to buy a violin one year ago, the first chinese violin I bought sounded horrible, like a duck, the bridge was so thick, that's how I started. Then the other two chinese violins I bought sound amazing, so feel free to believe and trust my taste or not. Yes, I am confident about my ears and my taste in tone, but I don't patronize or force anyone in believing me or trusting me. I have no plans to play in any orchestra or chamber music, I have been always playing rock, melodic jazz and blues, so learning the violin it's really a passion, what will come out of it it's unknown, but so far everything is going well, I just love it. I find playing electric guitar is very helpful, the vibrato is completely different for example, but the picking technique follows very similar patterns, up or down strokes, legato etc.

September 8, 2011 at 03:56 PM ·

Just as I thought ...

September 8, 2011 at 04:25 PM ·

Poldi - I take that you love the sound of your violin, but you don't like the way the shiny surface looked, and you want raised grain.

If you willing to risk losing the good sound, by all means go ahead and do whatever you want to raise the grain. You might end up failed attempts on raising the grains, or you may success. But will it hurt the sound? Absolutely.

 

September 8, 2011 at 06:31 PM ·

 This is a serious comment: since you are so interested in experimenting with instruments, have you ever considered apprenticing (even part time) with an experienced luthier?  You could then learn what it is you want to do, and satisfy what appears to be a strong desire!

September 8, 2011 at 09:10 PM ·

 any kind f raised grain is good for cleaning out the colon which probably makes it germane to this thread too.

Cheers,

Buri

September 8, 2011 at 09:42 PM ·

" In the violinmaking field, a raised grain on the top usually refers to a surface which has been finished with a cabinet scraper, rather than being sanded. The scraper cuts the hard "winter" grain, but burnishes the soft summer grain more, and this soft area will end up raised on its own, even without moistening."

 

That was actually interesting.  I always have wondered about that.  

September 9, 2011 at 12:00 AM ·

"You might end up failed attempts on raising the grains, or you may success. But will it hurt the sound? Absolutely."

thanks for the advice. Is it going to hurt the sound? Why exactly?


 "This is a serious comment: since you are so interested in experimenting with instruments, have you ever considered apprenticing (even part time) with an experienced luthier?  You could then learn what it is you want to do, and satisfy what appears to be a strong desire!"

Thanks, It's so fascinating to work as a luthier, yes I thought about it but playing guitar piano and now violin for the moment satisfies me a lot. I hope luthiers will never disappear from this planet, whatever their price is, actually I think there's never been a better time for learning, playing and buying a violin.

September 9, 2011 at 10:59 AM ·

Poldi I don't think you've quite grasped exactly why your post hasn't received the warm response that you seem to have expected. The reason why is because generally, when one buys a nice violin they don't start scraping on it and altering the varnish for the sake of mere aesthetics. To most of the people on this forum that sounds a bit like adopting a child and performing experimental surgery on it or something. 

September 9, 2011 at 11:56 AM ·

You should take the violin to a luthier and have him or her paint it like a 1959 Les Paul Gold Top guitar. Put Grover tuners on it instead of pegs. Maybe a humbucking pickup somewhere under the bridge. And a switch to put it out of phase on certain passages. Now that would be cool.

September 9, 2011 at 12:33 PM ·

I wasn't sure I liked the glossy finish of my hand made violin after owning a German shop instrument which had a light spirit varnish. The difference in playability and refinements between the two makes any difference in finish a non-issue.

I'll be leaving it as is. I'm really enjoying it as I continue to adjust and learn more each day.

September 9, 2011 at 04:16 PM ·

Tony - Exactly. Violin is about playability and sound, not the look.

At the same time, I can relate OP's feeling too. Beginners or intermediate players who just gotten into upgrading instruments usually highly obsessed with the look of the instrument they're purchasing. The look of the instrument sometimes often determine the final purchase - even if the student KNOW the uglier one sounds better.

Once the student advanced into the level where they realize sound and playability is limiting their progress, they'll start to realize it's horrendous to find a satisfying instrument with the right sound and right feel, let alone with a matching good look (and the right price tag!), eventually the look of the instrument will be out of the consideration.

I don't have much feeling every time I take out my violin from the case and have a look at it. But it has always impress me and makes me feel good whenever I start to make some music on it.

September 9, 2011 at 05:14 PM ·

"Tony - Exactly. Violin is about playability and sound, not the look.

At the same time, I can relate OP's feeling too. Beginners or intermediate players who just gotten into upgrading instruments usually highly obsessed with the look of the instrument they're purchasing. The look of the instrument sometimes often determine the final purchase - even if the student KNOW the uglier one sounds better.

Once the student advanced into the level where they realize sound and playability is limiting their progress, they'll start to realize it's horrendous to find a satisfying instrument with the right sound and right feel, let alone with a matching good look (and the right price tag!), eventually the look of the instrument will be out of the consideration.

I don't have much feeling every time I take out my violin from the case and have a look at it. But it has always impress me and makes me feel good whenever I start to make some music on it."

 

I hope this won't become a thread where people pat each other on the back and say "How cool, we are advanced players and we know only beginners are obsessed about the look, let's give them our patronizing advice". Casey who told you that I am obsessed with the look only because I asked if I can raise the grain without damaging the violin? If you have something stupid to say please don't post it at all. I never go after the price tag like a little kid, that's what I learnt from buying guitars and pianos, the same thing is for the violins, there is no exception.

 

September 9, 2011 at 05:48 PM ·

Pold-There was nothing stupid about Casey's post she was simply pointing out that the sound of the instrument to her is more important than how it looks. Your response to her was a bit heavy handed in my opinion. I think you could benefit from more experienced players, teachers, luthiers, etc. it's not about us looking down on you but offering you some opinions and solid advice which you asked for by the way.

Just a short story to reiterate what Casey was saying-When I take my violin to my luthier while he's working on mine I like to play some of  the violins he has lying around. One day I picked up a crude looking not so pretty modern Italian fiddle with a sort of blondish varnish it looked like it came from IKEA, however the sound was gorgeous the ugly duckling was indeed a beautiful swan! Yeah, I play on a pretty fiddle but it just worked out that way so many other qualities influenced my decision to buy it.

Yes,we are an opinionated lot on this site that's true but no one here has given you bad or "stupid" advice.

    -M

 

September 9, 2011 at 11:06 PM ·

"Yes,we are an opinionated lot on this site"

We? Who? There are very interesting threads in this forum and there are a lot of people who are not opinionated at all. Of course like in every forum I don't expect to receive something technical. I was hoping to receive a lot of technical advice from this thread, so far I received very little technical advice and a lot of patronizing and patting each other on the back.

September 9, 2011 at 11:43 PM ·

 I would say you got quite a bit of very experienced advice...but, because most of it indicated that what you are doing/want to do was not in the best interests of the instruments, you want to discount it.  

If experienced professional luthiers and players with many years of time spent with violins believe your wish to raise the grain by means of heat and water is unwise, why should they pretend to advocate it to make you feel better ?  That would be dishonest, don't you think?  

There's some humor on this thread (as on most of the ones that have many posts), as well as some shock (even disbelief) over your choices,  but you've also received very  thoughtful, professional evaluation and criticism of your intentions.  If all you wanted was endorsement, well, maybe this isn't the best venue.  Most of the people who make comments on v-com are honest and straighforward.  That means the original posters often don't like all the responses.  {shrug} that's life, right?

 

September 10, 2011 at 12:03 AM ·

At least one world class luthier has responded to your post with technical advice and you insulted him. If you wanted technical advice then why didn't you ask for it in your original post? You asked for opinions and you got them. Boiling a violin is a bad idea how technical a description do you need? Calling someone elses post stupid is the pot calling the boiling kettle black in this instance. Anyway, this exchange has become a little too youtube-ish for me it's beyond me how someone would want to be a troll on their own thread. Whatever decision you make I hope you're happy with the result. Peace.

                 -M

 

September 10, 2011 at 12:06 AM ·

Thanks Marjory for another unnessessary "pat on the back" post, without any technical advice and has got nothing to do with the thread.

September 10, 2011 at 12:30 AM ·

 You received exactly the technical advice that your query warranted, and by an internationally respected leader in his field no less! You chose to insult him rather than accept his advice graciously and now you're complaining that people aren't responding in the way you wanted. It's a pity you're too stubborn and indignant to recognize what's going on. If you want to dabble in amateur violin making, I'd like to suggest that you try a kit like those ones from Stewart-MacDonald. I'm sure that if you went about it that way you'd receive more technical advice that you did by molesting a perfectly decent violin that had already been completed.

September 10, 2011 at 12:33 AM ·

This thread is beginning to grab me like a multi-vehicle pileup on a major thoroughfare; I keep looking at the carnage in sick fascination.

Move along, folks. nothing to see here. Go home to your families.

September 10, 2011 at 12:35 AM ·

Thanks Maurice for another unnessessary "pat on the back" post, without any technical advice and has got nothing to do with the thread. I didn't insult the world class luthier that you are flattering so much, stop with your hypocrisy, sarcastic useless comments, and don't put words into my mouth. Regarding Mr Burgess I have never tried his violins so I can only comment on his posts, he insulted my chinese violins by calling them disposable without any technical explanation or proof regarding their inferiority in craftmanship, wood quality and varnish quality. I asked him why according to him I messed up with my violin by using the sand paper and he didn't give any technical explanation apart from some generic bashing. If David Burgess he's a good luthier he certainly doesn't need your servile flattery, fawning and adulation, you are not doing a favour to him at all, you are just showing your lack of honesty. If there are moderators I hope they will intervene and stop any further patronizing or "pat on the back" comments.

September 10, 2011 at 12:37 AM ·

Thanks Pijoan for another unnessessary "pat on the back" post, without any technical advice and has got nothing to do with the thread. I didn't insult the world class luthier that you are flattering so much, stop with your hypocrisy, sarcastic useless comments, and don't put words into my mouth. Regarding Mr Burgess I have never tried his violins so I can only comment on his posts, he insulted my chinese violins by calling them disposable without any technical explanation or proof regarding their inferiority in craftmanship, wood quality and varnish quality. I asked him why according to him I messed up with my violin by using the sand paper and he didn't give any technical explanation apart from some generic bashing. If David Burgess he's a good luthier he certainly doesn't need your servile flattery, fawning and adulation, you are not doing a favour to him at all, you are just showing your lack of honesty. If there are moderators I hope they will intervene and stop any further patronizing or "pat on the back" comments.

September 10, 2011 at 01:00 AM ·

September 10, 2011 at 01:09 AM ·

My technical advice as a luthier is to go ahead and steam it. YOU are the one who said it will be no loss if it doesn't work. In fact, I would suggest putting it in an autoclave. Why go half way? Then you can report back on how it worked. Sorry if I'm offensively patting you on the back.

September 10, 2011 at 01:12 AM ·

You are not patting me on the back, you are just trolling and insulting, please do it in another thread, not here, there are enough trolls, or I will report you.

September 10, 2011 at 01:27 AM ·

Pold, normally people here will get my drift without me needing to write a book.

If you would like a book though, with peripheral information and supporting arguments, I would highly recommend the three volume, $1300 set entitled "The Conservation, Restoration, and Repair of Stringed Instruments and Their Bows".

I  don't take kindly to your repeated attempts to assign a false and fabricated racial or cultural bias to what I have said. I have been in China, fell in love with the Chinese people (as I have with people of many nations and cultures), and stated that on this forum when I returned from a trip there last year. My wife is employed by a Chinese company. Maybe the "race-card" argument works on some people, and applies to some people, but you've chosen a pretty unlikely candidate! ;-)

Probably 5 to 10% of my customers are of Chinese descent.

 

September 10, 2011 at 01:33 AM ·

No David thanks, I appreciate your technical advice on these books , I hope you'll get my drift anyway.

September 10, 2011 at 01:46 AM ·

i have several questions for you pold.  i have no intention to insult you, not saying others had (so take it easy).  after reading your initial post, i am not clear about some things.

1. when you sanded the thick varnish of one violin with fine sand paper, did the sanding leave any fine lines/scratches?  did you have to use very fine sandpaper and apply it when wet?  how did you ensure that you consistently/evenly take off one thin layer everywhere?

2. when you apply the steam, do you think that the steam may raise the grain as well as distort the overall shape of the plate, if that much moisture goes into the violin?  even with a thinner layer of varnish, don't you think the varnish barrier may be a big factor which may confound your objective (that you may need to really crank up the steam level)? what if indeed you can raise the grain, but at the same time the thin varnish is also compromised?  

3. you said that both of your violins sound "lovely".  aren't you concerned that by changing or modifying the violins that the sound of the violins may change?  more lovely vs less lovely.  thus my confusion: are you trying to improve the existing lovely sound, or are you purely going after visual changes?

4. my speculation is that if you have done enough to raise the grain of the entire surface of the violin, then it is very likely the sound of the violin will change, for better or worse i am not sure.  would you acknowledge that?

September 10, 2011 at 02:22 AM ·

i have couple questions for you pold.  i have no intention to insult you, not saying others had (so take it easy).  after reading your initial post, i am not clear about some things.

1. when you sanded the thick varnish of one violin with fine sand paper, did the sanding leave any fine lines/scratches?  did you have to use very fine sandpaper and apply it when wet?  how did you ensure that you consistently/evenly take off one thin layer everywhere?

2. when you apply the steam, do you think that the steam may raise the grain as well as distort the overall shape of the plate, if that much moisture goes into the violin?  even with a thinner layer of varnish, don't you think the varnish barrier may be a big factor which may confound your objective (that you may need to really crank up the steam level)? what if indeed you can raise the grain, but at the same time the thin varnish is also compromised?  

3. you said that both of your violins sound "lovely".  aren't you concerned that by changing or modifying the violins that the sound of the violins may change?  thus my confusion: are you trying to improve the existing lovely sound, or are you purely going after visual changes?

 

Hi Al, I am not a luthier or an expert, so all the best I can do is just share my experience. I didn't use even the finest one, I just used sandpaper p600  and it didn't leave any scratch at all, I passed it gently on the top, it wasn't wet, just dry, then I used some water and kitchen roll to get rid of the residue, careful not to mess with it, and the result is brillian, not only because the gloss is gone but also because it's thinner, the colour is exactly the same and it looks more natural. In theory a good violin sounds good already without any varnish, a "ground" coating would be enough (but customers wouldn't buy any violins..). Personally I like thin varnishes that allow the wood to "breath" without affecting the tone. The fact that the gloss is gone is pure esthetic, I like the natural look of the violin now. Regarding the steam, I have been kindly told through another forum (without any insults or patronizing comments, LOL) that I would end up damaging the varnish. So I won't do it, I will stop here, I am happy with it, maybe in the future I will brush some linseed oil on the top, but I don't feel the urge to do that. Hope this helps and you will get a lot of other advices by good honest luthiers and players.

September 10, 2011 at 03:23 AM ·

"You are not patting me on the back, you are just trolling and insulting, please do it in another thread, not here, there are enough trolls, or I will report you."

Oh good grief! You're threatening to report Lyle Reedy? To whom? For what? LOL

Good luck with that! The guy has been solid. It would be much wiser to lay low, and not risk bringing the moderator's attention to yourself!

September 10, 2011 at 06:03 AM ·

 Thanks Pijoan for another unnessessary "pat on the back" post, without any technical advice and has got nothing to do with the thread. I didn't insult the world class luthier that you are flattering so much, stop with your hypocrisy, sarcastic useless comments, and don't put words into my mouth.

Putting words into your mouth? Aren't you the one who accused Mr. Burgess of slandering the violin making industry of China?! And you're accusing me of hypocrisy. That's hilarious. I had to reread my comment to see if there was any sarcasm in it. No sarcasm intended. My suggestion that you try a violin building kit was sincere. I still think it's a good idea. I'm not a professional luthier but I've made a violin from a kit myself with the guidance of a luthier and I'd be happy to share what I learned in the process. It's much better to do that than risk ruining violins which have already been finished.

If David Burgess he's a good luthier he certainly doesn't need your servile flattery, fawning and adulation, you are not doing a favour to him at all, you are just showing your lack of honesty.

I didn't intend to unnecessarily flatter Mr. Burgess at all. All I said is that he is very well respected in his line of work, and that's the truth. I respect what he does, and I merely meant that you should be grateful that someone with that kind of expertise took the time to explain things to you. I don't see how that indicates any "lack of honesty". I realize that you'll probably read what I just wrote and accuse me of worshiping Mr. Burgess further. Excuse me for showing a little reverence for people I respect. No adulation intended, just reasonable respect, for pity's sake. I never thought I'd get trolled on the internet for such a silly thing.

If there are moderators I hope they will intervene and stop any further patronizing or "pat on the back" comments.

Don't worry, no thread on this forum is a secret to moderators. I'm sure one of them will lock your thread when it's decided that your nonsense has run completely out of hand.

September 10, 2011 at 08:17 AM ·

Poldi

You are giving respectable (!) people like me from the UK a really bad name!

You might not realise it, but this is an international site, with a lot of American imput, and most of it is highly regarded by me and many others.

The best thing you can do is shut up and stop embarrassing us all, and just read what the experts have to say on here. (And there are plenty of experts).

Take my advice.

September 10, 2011 at 11:08 AM ·

Peter and Michael, spoken words fly away, written words remain. I prefer to be optimistic about what moderators will think reading this thread, which is evident, lots of unnecessary trolling, insults, and patronizing. You take your responsibilities when you write nonsense, you are just embarassing yourselves, you are just trying to intimidate people's opinions and creative ideas with your nasty and offensive comments, I wonder how many beginners would like to write in this thread but they just don't because they feel intimidated by your posts. Pathetic, you should feel ashamed of yourselves!

September 10, 2011 at 12:35 PM ·

 

Hello Pold,

I have read this thread with care, and most certainly don't wish to join the vile "pat on the back crowd."

You seek technical advice, and I will offer such, though perhaps not in the venue of your original intent.

You wrote earlier "I just used sandpaper p600 and it didn't leave any scratch at all, I passed it gently on the top, it wasn't wet, just dry..."

The notion that 600 grit paper used on a glossy surface will not leave perfectly obvious scratches originally struck me as laughable.

But then, as I continued to think about your situation, I started to develop a concern...

In truth, I do not believe for a moment that you actually did what you have described, but I am often wrong. So, in the event that you actually did use the abrasive paper on your violin and don't see any scratches, you most certainly do need technical advice:

Do yourself a favor and seek the assistance, not of a skilled luthier, but rather, a skilled ophthalmologist.

All the best,

Lothar

September 10, 2011 at 01:52 PM ·

OR maybe the services of a skilled shrink ...

September 10, 2011 at 02:21 PM ·

In all fairness my "servile flattery, fawning and adulation" was not meant only for David Burgess but for all of the experienced luthiers that have posted  on this thread. I for one welcome our new overlords! Lol.   

       -M

September 10, 2011 at 02:35 PM ·

We all know that what DB says is taken with a grain of salt ... It often raises our hackles ... what do lutheries know about violins anyway? They only put a few bits of wood together using nails and glue and the odd staple!!

But of course the fiddles don't sound bad at all.

But I know someone on here has been trying to raise a laugh, before getting all upset by a few innocent remarks!!

September 10, 2011 at 02:52 PM ·

Poldi - Your posts leaving me speechless. Go ahead and do what you want, and I wish you the very best luck. ;)

Maurice - I'm a guy lol! 

September 10, 2011 at 03:13 PM ·

 In all seriousness, for many people, visual aesthetics are rather important. Yes, the overall concern SHOULD be the sound, but for some people, it is a combination of the sound and the way the instrument looks. Sometimes it comes from equating a quality instrument with a certain body shape or finish. 

And not everyone comes to the violin from a strict orchestral background. Some people come to it from a love of bluegrass, or rock, etc. And, at least with rock, visuals are a tremendous part of what is going on with the music, because the end result of any musical endeavor for most  rock musicians is a live performance, either of covers or of original music. And in rock, that means lights, movement, etc. I'm returning to the violin after a 27 year absence in which I switched to bass guitar and played rock, blues, jazz, etc. And for me, what the instrument looks like is very important due to what that says visually. And believe it or not, purchasing decisions where a violin is involved, the look is something I consider as well. It's not as important as what it sounds like, but it ranks up there. I want an instrument that, visually, is an extension of who I am as a musician. I don't play death metal, so I don't play a BC Rich, a Jackson or an Ibanez. I don't groove NY Studio Funk so I don't play a Warwick or a Ken Smith.

I do play a Fender Jazz bass, though (among others). Blue with a tortoise shell pickguard, and the old school ashtray and front pickup covers. It's a look I dig and the look of my bass tells you a lot about who I am, what you can expect from my musicianship, and how I'll be playing that night. What you don't see, are the modifications that were made to that bass to change the sound of it. The wiring changes, the pickup changes, etc. Those are every bit as important to me.

So, while Pold Poldi has been very abrasive in some of his commentary, and some of you have been just as abrasive back, I felt it was important to point out that some people have a very good reason for wanting their instrument to look a certain way, and will actually research it, as Poldi has done here. Coming from a rock background where it's accepted to do at least a certain level of one's own lutherie, and it certainly is a mark of pride to actually know how to set up your own instrument, dress frets, select, install and set pickups, maintain your fretboard wood, refinish the instrument, etc., I wouldn't dream of taking my instrument to someone else. I learned and made my mistakes on lesser grade instruments out of necessity. It was simply too cost-prohibitive to take them to someone to have it done. But the knowledge and experience I acquired in doing that was simply gold. Re-wiring, new pickups, etc. I have done and will continue to do myself. If I don't like the way a finish sounds on one of my basses, I'll change it. I've learned enough over the years by reading published information, asking questions, etc.

I've been very fortunate to have a thick skin, and when someone came back at me with something similar to the wire-bristled brush image comment, I simply brushed it off and moved on. Perhaps that's what Poldi should have done in the first place. 

September 10, 2011 at 03:52 PM ·

Sorry Casey...dude!   -M

September 10, 2011 at 05:35 PM ·

Roland

Yes, I do think we all like a good looking instrument. Sometimes we see a beautiful looking instrument (or gal!) and then when we delve further we find its pretty shallow and is a bit brash.

I tried two fine looking brand new fiddles today, equivalent to about $13,000 (£8,000+ in funny money). Trouble was they were both (and one in particular) lousy sounding.

So the ideal is a lovely looking fiddle with a great sound. Hard to come by though!

September 10, 2011 at 06:07 PM ·

Maurice - No problem mate! Cheers! ;)

Peter - I will never take any violin with pretty face but mediocre sound, but I must confess that I probably never take a violin that has a great sound with ugly worn off black varnish with beaten up look too, for example. Then, there're violins with strange odors, bad conditions, awkward size and weight...

It's probably as difficult to get a violin that has great sound with awful look too as you would on a violin that sounds and looks great!

September 10, 2011 at 06:40 PM ·

I must say though that if the fiddle was really ugly, like a cross between G W Bush's face and Tony Bliar's, and M Thatcher's, but it had a wonderful sound, I would buy it.

There are plenty of great looking fiddles out there, but virtually none that sound wonderful.

September 10, 2011 at 08:38 PM ·

The notion that 600 grit paper used on a glossy surface will not leave perfectly obvious scratches originally struck me as laughable.

But then, as I continued to think about your situation, I started to develop a concern...

In truth, I do not believe for a moment that you actually did what you have described, but I am often wrong. So, in the event that you actually did use the abrasive paper on your violin and don't see any scratches, you most certainly do need technical advice:

Do yourself a favor and seek the assistance, not of a skilled luthier, but rather, a skilled ophthalmologist.

I can guarantee you that there is no scratch at all in my top after using the p600, and that my eyes are absolutely fine, so if you want to believe the opposite go for it, I couldn't care less, as long as it makes you happy.

September 10, 2011 at 08:56 PM ·

Pold, the 600 grit sandpaper dulled the gloss by leaving a series of small scratches. I don't know how obvious they are to you, but they are definitely there.

September 10, 2011 at 09:05 PM ·

Hey, excuse me, but is this the place where you go to pat yourself on the back?  Because I need to feel good about myself today.

September 10, 2011 at 09:10 PM ·

Ok, but you need a magnifier to spot some almost invisible imperfections, especially after you remove the residue with kitchen roll and water, I am not that picky to worry about them, actually I like them, but on expensive violins I wouldn't do it, if people are concerned about these invisible imperfections I definetely suggest them to take their violin to a luthier, or maybe using a finer sandpaper.

September 10, 2011 at 09:39 PM ·

Poldi, have you ever taken a violin to a really skilled luthier for work?  

I recently took my violin in to get a chip I put in it by bumping it with my bow repaired (shameful, I know!) and get the soundpost adjusted as it wasn't playing easily, especially on the A string.  

He repaired the chip so well I can barely tell where it was (I had the missing flake of wood), moved the bridge and put some parchment under the A string (apparently it had cut into the bridge).  The soundpost stayed where it was.  

The work he did made my day or maybe my week.  There's a big difference between somebody who knows what they're doing and somebody who doesn't!

September 10, 2011 at 09:55 PM ·

No I've never taken my violin to a luthier, if something bad happens I wouldn't have alternatives of course. I forgotten to mention that initially when I was timidly attempting to use the p600 on  just a single inch squared, I remember to see scratches, I was worried about it, then I tried to continue following the lines of the grain, properly but gently and all the scratches I noticed before on my timid attempt were gone. So, to those who want to try this, don't be surprised if you see some scary scratches initially, just carry on without fear.

September 10, 2011 at 11:21 PM ·

I hear a quacking quackeroo.

September 11, 2011 at 01:09 AM ·

Yes it is, Emily.  Atta Girl!  Way to go!  Good show!  That's how ya do it!  That's tellin' 'em!  Keep patting, I'll keep cheering you on.

September 11, 2011 at 04:15 AM ·

 Pats for Emily.

She is legally blonde isn`t she....?

September 11, 2011 at 04:17 AM ·

 "So, to those who want to try this, don't be surprised if you see some scary scratches initially, just carry on without fear."

Do not under ANY circumstances take Pold Poldi's advice on anything related to violins. Pold, you should not be giving advice, especially after what almost everyone in this thread (including trained luthiers) has written. I don't believe that you ever actually wanted technical advice. You clearly decided what you were going to do and you came here for validation. You did not receive validation so you threw a tantrum and now you're trying to give advice on the topic? Really man, that's just silly.

September 11, 2011 at 04:49 AM ·

"Thanks Pijoan for another unnessessary "pat on the back" post, without any technical advice and has got nothing to do with the thread"

"Thanks Maurice for another unnessessary "pat on the back" post, without any technical advice and has got nothing to do with the thread"

Michael ya know it's comin! :c)

                -M

September 11, 2011 at 06:55 AM ·

 Greetings,

I have a technical question.

Is someone who sands grain a cereal killer?

Cheers,

Buri

September 11, 2011 at 09:01 AM ·

"Is someone who sands grain a cereal killer?"

 

BRILLIANT!!

September 11, 2011 at 01:54 PM ·

I am not giving any advice because I am not an expert or a luthier, actually I started this thread to seek advice myself, I am just sharing my experience. This thread is unfortunately infested with trolls, it doesn't happen often, but sometimes a mob of trolls decide to gang up, this is nothing new, we can date that kind of behaviour back to the chimps, our closest ape relatives, as we know lethal coalitionary aggression is part of the natural behavioral repertoire of chimpanzees, so I hope readers won't be surprised by these unnecessary posts, and I hope moderators will take action soon.

September 11, 2011 at 02:12 PM ·

Having a wee bit of wood-working experience (very wee, mind you), are you sure that once the instrument's had it's finish removed that the steam will actually raise the grain? It's quite possible that the grain has already been raised in the production process to the point that you won't get any more rise from it. At that point, the amount of steam you would need to apply could dramatically effect the integrity of the glue used to keep this violin together. It's extremely possibly the glue is water-based and the heat and moisture could indeed damage the violin, as the experts here have pointed out. 

It's also possible that there's been a clear primer sprayed on the instrument prior to the finishing process and some of those embed and almost etch themselves into the surfaces they are used on. If that was the case, then no amount of steam is going to penetrate deeply enough to raise the grain on this instrument.

Both of these techniques are typically done in commercial, large-scale wood working in order to shorten the number of build-up steps in the finishing process of high-gloss items. It makes handling time during finishing as short as possible, thus making the violin less expensive to produce. The less time it takes to make and the fewer people involved in the process saves a great deal of labor and material costs for the builder.

As for getting a violin with a satin finish vs. a gloss finish, taking the gloss finish down by sanding is only part of the process. What you've done is scratched/roughed the gloss finish, as has been described by others. And this is similar to sanding and re-applying varnish to build up coats, so while you haven't irrevocably damaged the violin in and of itself, you've left it open to damage down the line.

What you would need to do next is apply a satin, or even a matte finish of the same time originally used on the violin. That requires that you're able to identify what type of finish is used on the violin in the first place. It could be a standard acrylic, an enamel, or even a nitro finish. Regardless, knowing what you are applying this finish on top of helps to make the finished product much better because the two finishes, being of the same type, won't react poorly to one another during application.  

Why should you apply a satin/matte finish over top of your already sanded violin that looks satin or matte? Because any time you clean the violin with even a micro-scratched surface, it will collect those cleaning agents in the scratches and eventually yellow the color of the finish, thus discoloring the violin, and may even compromise the integrity of the finish. So, if your goal is a satin or matte finish on this gloss violin, go the extra step and apply at least one coat of satin or matte finish to it so it will protect the appearance of your violin down the line. 

As you've mentioned before, this violin is an inexpensive, modern factory-built one (I didn't say cheap, I didn't say crap), and is indeed a perfect candidate for a DIY project like this. Restoration of a violin that has been created in a time when different construction techniques and materials were available requires someone who knows those techniques inside and out, as well as those materials. The finishes we use today, whether a rattle-can or a pressurized air gun, are different from those used hundreds of years ago. And the application of materials and repairs done in a modern manner vs. what was used and done hundreds of years ago, can actually hurt the value of the instrument as it introduced modern materials and techniques, possibly making the instrument an unwelcome anachronism to some. 

September 11, 2011 at 02:31 PM ·

Thanks Roland, finally a non-patronizing post, it's like a breath of fresh air. You are doing something very helpful: sharing your experience politely.

September 11, 2011 at 03:16 PM ·

It's important to engage in mild monkey behavior from time to time. If these things are completely suppressed and subjugated, they can accumulate to dangerous levels.

I heard an ugly rumor that my neighbors sometimes whisper about me scampering around the yard on all fours, screeching, and scratching both armpits at the same time. Little do they know that this is the reason I am so much healthier emotionally than they are. :-)

September 11, 2011 at 03:30 PM ·

"Infested with trolls", forsooth.

I keep coming back, looking at the scattered body parts and wondering at the fascintaion I have with train wrecks.

Only seven more posts before this thing shuts down. Am I the only one who will be relieved? I don't understand my fascination with time-wasting trolls. Must be some sort of character defect. Or primate behavior (beg pardon, behaviour).

September 11, 2011 at 03:50 PM ·

 i also find roland's larger perspective a good read, and i have a question,,,for roland or david or others.

not that it is something i am about to do,,,let's say there is a violin (destroy with no risk type) with a very thick varnish and i have decided to thin it.  

should i sand it down or should i use a solvent to achieve the best result?

or should i go all the way to rid the varnish completely to start over?

September 11, 2011 at 03:55 PM ·

I'd probably go with the third option, but that's based on having some experience with varnishing. It often doesn't go well on the first attempt.

September 11, 2011 at 03:59 PM ·

 thanks, david, on that,  does revarnishing change the sound for the worse, as constantly warned by many, in your opinion or experience?

September 11, 2011 at 04:14 PM ·

It's very likely to change the sound. Whether it's better or worse depends on what you've taken off,  what you put on, and your taste in sound. Conceivably, the sound could be improved.

September 11, 2011 at 07:32 PM ·

can this please end?

September 11, 2011 at 07:32 PM ·

Hey, I find I can do something constructive on this topic after all...

September 11, 2011 at 08:06 PM ·

 we are the chimpions....

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

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