Dark or Light Varnish? Witch do you Prefer?

November 8, 2016 at 01:26 AM · So I have always liked the color of lighter varnishes, and tend to go to instruments that have a lighter varnish over a darker varnish. At the end of the day, it's the sound that sells it for me. However, I prefer a lighter varnish because I feel that they are more welcoming. Where darker varnishes tend to make me feel that they are louder then what I want. However the violins I have played on were due to how they sounded and not how they looked. Still I wonder if anyone else as a preference to darker or lighter varnishes.

Replies (20)

November 8, 2016 at 02:25 AM · I don't care. I only care about sound.

November 8, 2016 at 03:36 AM · Of course Ms. Yu, but the question is focusing on your preference to how the violin looks on the outside.

November 8, 2016 at 03:43 AM · I don't believe varnish color corresponds in any way to the type of sound.

I admit to having basically no appreciation for the exterior of a violin's appearance. All other things being equal, I'd prefer to be able to see the grain of the wood.

November 8, 2016 at 05:08 AM · I don't like the really dark ones too much, so a nice aged Italian orange-ish or red-ish tone would be preferable for me. But if it sounds superb I'll take a violin of any color really!

November 8, 2016 at 05:40 AM · I like the darker ones, as they look like older relics with mysterious secrets they like to hide. :)

November 8, 2016 at 06:59 AM · I prefer a nice dark green varnish.

November 8, 2016 at 07:30 AM · I like darker ones too.

November 8, 2016 at 01:40 PM · I generally prefer a dark reddish-brown varnish, but I recently got a flared maple violin with a very light varnish that has a sort of fiery look that I really like. http://imgur.com/a/WrwGs

November 8, 2016 at 03:48 PM · Personally I'm glad varnish color is so diverse. I like variety when I am violin (window) shopping. I agree that varnish color (light or dark) seems unrelated to the sound of the instrument, but this might be one of those "pros know" situations that goes beyond rational thinking. The reason I acknowledge this possibility is because I also think the color of rosin is not relevant to its function.

November 8, 2016 at 03:53 PM · I don't really have a preference. However, like Lydia, I do prefer to be able to see the grain of the wood.

November 8, 2016 at 04:16 PM · I was ready to buy a nice violin a few years ago with a really nice amber/golden color that got away from me. You don't see that color too often. My violin now may not look as pretty, but I prefer how it plays.

November 8, 2016 at 09:13 PM · I am a wood aficionado and prefer to see the grain. @Lydia, how can you state that you have no appreciation for the exterior appearance and yet prefer to see the grain? :-) Or are you (and you too, Krista) subconsciously suspicious that the dark varnish is covering up something that could affect the quality of the instrument? I'm sure that I am.

November 8, 2016 at 09:46 PM · Varnish that is dark or thick enough to hide the grain does seem like a ploy to disguise undesirable characteristics. In general however, any instrument I have been interested in from a sound perspective had a more clear finish anyway. Who knows? Maybe one day I'll fall in love with an instrument with a dark, thick finish. I wouldn't rule it out, but it wouldn't appeal to me from an esthetic standpoint either.

November 8, 2016 at 11:29 PM · I think that's just my preference for wood looks in general. The grain is more interesting. But I can't say that I really care much, though I admit I think really dark-varnish violins are ugly.

November 9, 2016 at 12:36 AM · I like my orange, reddish violin. My preference, however, are the gold/amber violins. The finish of the amber ones looks more natural, with fewer stains and coats, yielding an apparently lighter instrument with a purer, sweeter tone, but it's all in my head. I once heard a famous luthier criticizing an amber violin saying it was dull and had no color.

November 9, 2016 at 04:42 AM · I am also more drawn to lighter ones. What can I say, they just look clean and natural. I don't know why anyone would cover up the natural wood grain with a heavy dark varnish unless it adds to the sound somehow? I always judge sound higher than any other aspect but I can't help but admire the lighter varnishes. They are just plain pretty.

November 11, 2016 at 01:36 PM · A few of my luthier's creations have green varnish - which I don't see as I'm clour-blind!

November 11, 2016 at 04:22 PM · "Which doctor is the witch doctor?" -- Dizzy Gillespie

November 11, 2016 at 06:06 PM · Varnish color should be.......

"just right". ;-)

November 14, 2016 at 03:52 PM · Mr. Deck thank you for pointing out my error in a subtle way. Did not notice that at all!

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