Rosin under the bridge, a sticky situation.

November 26, 2011 at 10:12 PM · So as to not make a short story long, let me say that I do carefully and most faithfully wipe my instrument after every session; when I get home after a lesson but usually as soon as I finish practicing. Ok if my wife is home I might wait. Cleaning the strings hurts her ears.

There is one place that I do not seem to be able to clean and I am hoping for several approaches to try.

I am getting a thick white strip between the feet of my bridge. How should I clean this without disrupting the bridge?


Pat T.

Replies (21)

November 26, 2011 at 10:37 PM · I use a dry cotton bud on a stick.

November 26, 2011 at 10:44 PM · Realistically, there's probably no safe and easy way of removing all vestiges of rosin dust from between the feet of the bridge without removing the bridge first, but I suppose the good news is that any vestiges will show you exactly where the bridge was located.

November 27, 2011 at 03:18 AM · I learn so much here. I would never have looked at the Wiki had it not be for this reply.

“Cotton swabs (American English) or cotton buds (British English) or ear buds (South-African English)” from Wikipedia.

I had been using the cotton buds but quit because it always seemed like it to do much force to get the rosin out and sometimes it felt as if the cotton was getting pushed down (wedged) by the bridge and that worried me.

Today I used a cotton bud and cleaned under the bridge. I think there’s a cotton fiber stuck to one of the feet but it is small.

I am going to switch from D'Addario Pro-Arte to Pirastro Tonica strings, hopefully tonight. I am not that happy with my violin and the Pro-Arte’s have had a four month trial.

I want to give the Pirastro Tonica’s at least that long a trial and then go the next step.

I have been taking lessons since April and I am getting better at tuning without resorting to the fine tuners so I want a better tailpiece. I have a 20 year old near mint Knilling (probably model #10) with four fine tuners on it and I’m trying to get a couple more years out of it while I learn what I’m doing.


I figure a better tailpiece (with one finetuner) is the one thing that might improve the violin short of a complete upgrade. I will ask my luthier to clean the top while he has the tailpiece and bridge off the instrument.

When he did a neck pull-up he recommended that I sand the finish off the area of the neck where my thumb goes. I think he meant that I should have him sand it off. I spent some time thinking about this. Considered masking and grades of sand paper, thought about that recorder I used to learn tuning and voicing (it will make a nice lamp someday) and decide I will get the neck sanded at the same time.


Thank you,

Pat T.

November 27, 2011 at 02:10 PM · Unless you're using all-steel strings you don't need a tail-piece with more than one fine tuner. If, with synthetic cores, you find you really need fine tuners then that indicates there is a problem with the pegs, and/or possibly the travel of the strings through the grooves in the nut; in both cases the advice of a luthier is needed.

Depending on your luthier's advice for your particular violin I'd go for a wood tail-piece, and also a Hill-type tuner for the E, so as to get the correct after-length. I'm sure such a tuner, partly because of its very small mass, is beneficial to the overall tone compared with the fine tuners shown in the photo. They also have the further advantage that the part under the tail-piece is as near as dammit flush with the underside of the tail-piece, so if there is a bridge or tail-nut disaster the fine adjuster is less likely to make a nasty gouge in the top table of the violin as the energy stored in the strings is "explosively" released.

November 27, 2011 at 03:19 PM · Is it possible you are using too much rosin? I rarely have much residue, even after a 3-hour rehearsal. A bit of fine dust is all. So...maybe read the threads on different rosins while you are in your 'spring revamping' mode! Good luck with it. A new set up should set YOU up for a while with your Knilling.

November 27, 2011 at 05:20 PM · With regular wipe-downs, rosin accumulation isn't normally a problem. Wash the wipe-down rag regularly. The goal is to remove junk, not redistribute it by using a dirty cleaning cloth.

November 27, 2011 at 06:20 PM · Patrick,

With a very fine grade of sandpaper, sanding down the neck is no biggie. The neck should not have varnish on it and it is clear that yours does. The varnished neck can stick to your hand and make shifting unreliable, and more subject to humidity effects and perspiration.

I have sanded down some of my violin necks for other reasons. After you have sanded down the neck, rub in some linseed oil and you will be fine.


November 27, 2011 at 06:41 PM · I think you're using either too much rosin or one that produces a lot of dust, like heidersine. YUCK!

Think about changing brands or using way less.

November 27, 2011 at 07:26 PM · You can keep your existing tailpiece and simply take off all the fine tuners, and change the e string one to a Hill string adjuster. (unless those are steel strings . Whaty kind are they?)

It definitely looks like your neck is varnished, which is not normal and you should get it off of there as Andrew recommends. Have the luthier do it if you can afford it. Otherwise, make sure you don't sand any of the wood off--it can change the sound. I'd think 400 grit to start, finish up with 600.

November 27, 2011 at 07:56 PM · Another option to remove the varnish from the neck is steel wool (0000). Do not use any solvent. It's probably best to have a luthier do this for you, it won't cost much.

As for your tailpiece, yes you can probably get by with only one fine tuner if your pegs are in good working order, but otherwise I see nothing wrong with putting on a Wittner tailpiece which has the built-in fine-tuners. It's not going to affect the tone of a routine violin enough to notice. A luthier should put this on for you because all the strings need to come off at once and you could drop your sound post.

As for the rosin under your bridge, take your Q-Tip swab and pull off some of the cotton with your fingers. Then it will be thin enough to get in there. Alternatively when you are having the tailpiece replaced your luthier can do a cleaning for you because the bridge will be loose. If you don't have the tailpiece removed, he can still clean under your bridge by putting in a jack just behind your bridge to hold the strings temporarily while he cleans there.

Lots of options.

November 27, 2011 at 10:54 PM ·

November 28, 2011 at 12:29 AM · Let’s begin with the idea that I might be a bit compulsive. The violin is not that coated in rosin. Here is the violin after an hour practice at the most telling angle.


Normally I wipe the bow stick and strings, and dust the top and fingerboard using a handkerchief I switch out periodically. I then wipe the violin using a microfiber cloth (Musicnomad Super soft Microfiber Suede Polishing Cloth). I have three of the microfiber cloths which I trade out fairly often.

I am currently using L’Opera Jade rosin, formerly I was using Bernardel.

At some point I decided I did not like using the cotton swab under the bridge and recently found that there had developed what looked like a yard marker on a football field under my bridge. I will return to the cotton swab, with due care.

I thank everyone for their comments. I have had a long meditation on my instrument. Unfortunately before some of the comments here and my subsequent thoughts on the matter I submitted a discussion on removing my fine tuners and if that should be a DIY (do it yourself) project. It is not.

Several comments here, especially Trevor Jennings “to get the correct after-length” reminded me that there is more to this than just taking the fine tuner off and putting the string in the tailpiece.

I think given how busy things are this season and that I have a set of new Tonics I can’t wait to try, I will put the new strings on and after the New Year’s I will have a discussion with my luthier. Now that I think I understand the workings of the Hill style fine tuners I am very excited about moving in that direction. I will let my luthier decide on the best tailpiece and tail gut for this instrument and let him sand my neck.

I cannot thank all of you enough.


Pat T.

November 28, 2011 at 12:37 AM · How about using the corner of your cleaning rag under the bridge?

November 28, 2011 at 01:15 AM · Speaking of the super-fabulous microfiber cleaning cloth, or whatever it was, I see that Shar and other companies sell these cleaning cloths and they're expensive. So ... what kind of fabric is this? Can we cross it with a catalog number at Joanne Fabrics? That would save us all a bundle to buy the stuff by the yard.

November 28, 2011 at 01:32 AM · I've deleted this - see my next post here.

November 28, 2011 at 01:59 AM · Hi: the best answer I can think of, would be simply going to your local car parts store, look at the section where they sell wax, polish, etc. and pick up a 3 or 4 pack of microfiber rags: they're normally used for detailing and waxing a car, motorcycle, etc. yet they are extremely soft, won't scratch, and will pick up all the bad stuff (THE POWDERY RESIN) and you can use it just as well for polishing. I use these on mine all the time, and for cleaning, I use "Kyser" Dr. Stringfellow lemon-oil fingerboard conditioner: I use it on every surface of the violin, and it's a great string cleaner, too.

November 28, 2011 at 10:24 PM · Here is a close-up of the Hill-type tuner that I mentioned in my post of Nov 27, on one of my violins (obviously the old one):

This replaces my previous post today which didn't work with Flickr, so I've gone over to Photobucket.

November 29, 2011 at 04:07 AM · I found what you have Southwest Strings list it as "Wittner Midget Style Violin String Adjuster" and you are so right. This would be the most flush with the bottom of the tailpiece.

I had already ordered a "Wittner Hill Model (Single Prong) Violin String Adjuster" by the time I figured out how yours works. My teacher has the one I ordered. I hope I will be happy with it. I had to order a loop end E to match my set.

Thanks for showing it to us. it does look interesting.

November 29, 2011 at 03:05 PM · Patrick, thank you for identifying my Wittner adjuster for me. All it says on the device (in very tiny lettering) is "W.Germany". I bought a couple for my violins some time ago, the shop assistant didn't know who made them, and I never got around to making further enquiries.

Tiny and light though it is, it is very sturdy and well-engineered – note the precise fit of the Goldbrokat E ball end in the prong. The double prong is also designed for loop end use, the prongs being significantly thicker and stiffer than on some of the more traditional lever adjusters.

The way it works is that the lever that the screw contacts is within the screwed hollow pillar. The pillar has opposing longitudinal slots in it so that the lever part (which is hinged to a lower ring) is inserted down through the slots, and is held in place in the final assembly by a second ring screwed down over the pillar. Only fingers are needed to tighten it and it remains secure. The screw tuning adjuster is fitted last. After-length of the E is the same as that of the other strings (Larsen Tzigane) which are fitted to the old ebony tail-piece.

A fine example of German engineering.

[Edit added] The Wittner "Midget" is fitted by passing the bare pillar up through the hole in the tail piece, aligning the two longitudinal slots in the direction the string will take, passing the ring that holds the hinged lever and prong assembly so that the lever slides down into the pillar, screwing the second ring (knurled) to secure the lever-holding ring in place, fitting the ball end of the string, fitting the tuning adjuster, and finally tightening things up and tuning. As I said earlier, only finger strength is needed; no tools.

November 30, 2011 at 01:15 PM · Paul, microfibre is sold under various trade names but only a few are made for cleaning and I have been unable to find any supplies for bulk sales.

Jo-Anns has a few items yarn and bags but no cloth specifically labeled as microfiber.

I have found that there are differences between the various microfiber cloths used for different types of cleaning. I have some dust cloths and they are very different from the instrument cloths I bought. And both are very different that what came with my glasses (optical grade so to speak).

Too bad I was hoping the same thing.

Pat T

December 18, 2011 at 04:24 AM · After much thought and a couple of discussions I decided to do a limited sanding of my neck. I do not think I got it down to bare wood, but I think I’m pretty close. At least there isn’t a spot of missing finish (probably polyurethane) with a ridge.

Sanded Neck, Before and after

I am concerned that I might have perpetuated false information.

I know I have alluded to my sister in law, the jazz pianist. She really is not a student of instruments. Great keyboardist, but she is not an instrument freak.

She had a gig tonight and my brother in law is out of town so we have their son for the night. When she dropped him off I was finishing up on my sanding.

She asked me what I was doing and knowing she is a worse punster / joker than me I simple said, “You can test the quality of a violin by sanding the finish off the neck and seeing if it stays in tune.”

I hope she didn’t believe me, but it is hard to tell.

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