Dust Balls in my Violin?

November 4, 2004 at 10:11 PM · I was looking inside my violin for fun a few days ago and was shocked to see a pretty big dustball rolling around in my violin! It's been really dirty ever since I got it. A luthier once told me that the people who sold it to me (Gipsies) must have took dirt from like a vacuum cleaner and put it in the violin to make it look older. Now, this much dirt can't be cleaned by the simple old rice trick, so how can it be thoroughly cleaned inside? Also, is it worth it? Will it improve the sound of my violin?

Replies (38)

November 5, 2004 at 12:49 AM · Leave it. Dust balls are cool. The longer it's there, the more compact and dense it will become, and rounder. It doesn't do anything at all to the sound. The biggest I've removed was about 1-1/4" in diameter, and half red hair, the other half green velvet! I've got a little drawer full of them, and they're all different. :-)

November 5, 2004 at 02:31 AM · But it's not just regular dust, it's thick, moldy, dark dust stuck to the inside of the violin.

November 5, 2004 at 02:46 AM · Try compressed air.

November 5, 2004 at 05:15 AM · Just to be PC, I think they prefer to be called Roma, or Romani, depending on where they're from. And putting dirt inside a violin to make it look older? heheh haven't heard that one before. Anyway, if the violin sounds good, then yes, have it cleaned. The only other thing I would suggest is maybe carefully using a vacuum hose (and not the one at the gas station, mind you) to suck out the dustball(s). Plug up the other side and carefully use the hose to get the dust out of there. DO NOT create a tight seal around the "f" holes. Although it would be a good story if you were to implode your fiddle. j/k happy hunting

November 5, 2004 at 05:36 AM · I've used tweezers to remove a big dust bunny. Just just have to get it to hop over to an f hole and then extract it. It actually took some time to do this!

November 5, 2004 at 05:36 AM · I would agree with Mr. Darnton. Dustballs are the result of years of work on your violin's part, and it would be a shame to ruin it now.

Speaking purely from my own meandering experience, I've also found a loose connection between the density of the ball and the quality of the instrument's sound. From what I can tell, the tighter the ball, the better the fiddle. I'd love to hear a maker's perspective on this phenonemon.

November 6, 2004 at 02:13 AM · It's really hard to get the dustball on the f-hole. And Jeff, they are Romanian Gipsies but Gipsies nevertheless. After all, they didn't originate from Romania.

November 6, 2004 at 02:33 AM · Shouldn't that be Gypsies?

November 6, 2004 at 02:54 AM · The official name Roma and Romani have nothing to do with Romania or Rome. Rom means "man". It's all here: http://www.geocities.com/Paris/5121/history.htm Gypsy is the U.S. and Canadian spelling, gipsy the British one. So Enosh, if the people who sold you the fiddle were from Romania, they would be Romanian Romani (or would that be Romani Romanians - I'm confusing myself).

That thing about tight dust balls indicating a good violin is interesting.

November 6, 2004 at 02:59 AM · some makers (i know teh shar technicians do this) just pour a little uncooked rice in there and swish it around, it somehow gets the dust out really well.

November 6, 2004 at 03:43 AM · Rice does clean the inside good, but be careful as it also eats away at the old labels and to much rice can nock your sound post out.

If your violin is very dirty inside, the dirt is actualy muting the sound, so by cleaning it inside, the sound quality improves.

Regards,

PF

November 6, 2004 at 12:33 PM · Remove immediately the ball in your violin! That courses noise. I played one violin which was so dirty inside and then it sound much better when I cleaned. Ask violin makers what they say. They will say exactly what I think.

November 6, 2004 at 06:17 PM · Uncooked! (I heard a horrible rumour once where that little detail was omitted and hope it was just an urban legend.)

November 6, 2004 at 08:08 PM · you'd have to be a fool...

November 6, 2004 at 08:21 PM · Obviously, but the story is going around in what I hope is a joke. Some people do take instructions very literally.

November 6, 2004 at 09:47 PM · I removed a fairly large dust bunny from my violin with my friend's bobby pin, she refused to put it back in her hair so I kept it for future extractions ;)

I don't think people would have put dirt inside your violin to make it look older, the reason my dust ball was there was because my violin is about 300 years old and it just accumulates and rolls around. I thought it was a bug at first and it scared me when I picked up my violin and saw something move inside, but it was only a dust bunny and a stray bow hair! lol go figure. If you have enough dust balls inside your violin it may alter the sound a bit, maybe muffle it, but prolly very unlikely.

Time to do some spring cleaning? :P

November 7, 2004 at 02:39 AM · if you have dirt balls inside of your violin, it may courses to have insects which they eat your violin! I mean you don't clean your body? anyway, my violin is also 270 years old beautiful Italian.

November 7, 2004 at 02:42 AM · Dude, they're Gypsies, they come up with alot of crazy things to do.

November 7, 2004 at 06:31 AM · I'm a firm believer in having a clean violin. I think the instrument will naturally sound more healthy and have a better ring with no dust inside. Dust I think can actually create buzzing occasionally. My dad last year used the Oreck xl vacuum cleaner pipe on my violin to suck out the dust from the f-holes. It sounded so much better after the cleansing!

November 7, 2004 at 07:13 AM · Hahaha that's funny, Nate. :)

November 7, 2004 at 10:24 AM · Greetings,

Mattias used to be puzzled by the clunking sounds he made while playing but after we removed the meatballs things improved (a little),

Cheers,

Buri

PS I think the rest of the problem is the hockey stick though the nose bone but I don"t want to be the one to tell him.

November 7, 2004 at 07:18 PM · I just used the rice thing yesterday and like I predicted, it didn't work very well. You guys don't understand, this isn't mere dust. It's DIRT and it's practically attatched to the violin. It was even difficult to get the dirt out with a Q-tip on the parts I could reach with it. I had to really dig. And Sam, how do I get compressed air?

November 7, 2004 at 08:03 PM · Isn't compressed air that can of stuff that people use to clean computer keyboards? That stuff is fascinating and fun to play with (blast it at random things and amaze yourself with how much dust you have around). :)

November 7, 2004 at 08:28 PM · i think i need some of that

November 9, 2004 at 01:26 AM · Exactly! Cans of "Dust Off" or "Blow Off" or whatever the brand, are available at any office or computer supply store.

If you own a home, your should think of getting a compressor/tank for you garage. They're great for pressure washing the house, powering air tools, cleaning computers and fiddles of dust, etc. And keeping your car tires properly inflated, of course.

November 9, 2004 at 01:55 AM · Doesn't it also give off some sort of liquid though? Is it safe for the violin?

November 9, 2004 at 05:41 AM · http://www.officesuppliesonline.us/REA_RR6000.htm

Here you go folks, refillable chemical free system. I gave you the product, find your own vendor. Personally, I still prefer a real shop-style tank, but this is a nice small alternative.

November 9, 2004 at 06:49 AM · just use it in bursts and it will come out in gase form, and make sure the can is rightside up.

November 9, 2004 at 04:28 PM · there's a prune joke coming now, i can feel it

November 9, 2004 at 05:48 PM · Michael rabin used old bens rice seemes to work well for him

note do not cook the rice first

:)

November 9, 2004 at 11:54 PM · Greetings,

no Owen, what you can feel s the consequence of prune consumption. A moment to be savoured,

Cheers,

Buri

November 10, 2004 at 12:41 AM · i savoured it a bit too long i fear..

November 11, 2004 at 01:43 AM · You might want to check with local regulations. Dust bunnies might be protected in your area.

November 11, 2004 at 02:59 AM · I think they're protected only if your property borders an Oreck store.

November 12, 2004 at 03:21 AM · You can also use the air compressor to give your dog an enema!

LOL

November 12, 2004 at 03:38 AM · Greetings,

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Because it saw what Peter did to his dog.

Cheers,

Buri

November 12, 2004 at 03:45 AM · LOL, Yes, thats right!!

November 20, 2004 at 03:39 AM · But I did say YOUR dog, not mine!! LOL

PF

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