Mineral Oil?

February 12, 2005 at 10:30 PM · The other day, I was reading about putting mineral oil on the finger board. Is there a reason one would do this? How would you put it on without getting any oil on the strings?


Replies (19)

February 12, 2005 at 11:00 PM · hmmm I've never heard that...if you get lil nicks or chips on the wood of your violin I would suggest a lil mineral oil though. I agree, why would one consider putting mineral oil on the finger board?

February 12, 2005 at 11:10 PM · Oily board. Oily fingers. Oily strings. Fingers in high position near where bow goes while oily. Bow slips on oil - could create interesting sound effects. I'm imagining all kinds of things.

February 13, 2005 at 12:42 AM · Sounds like this was intended for guitars, not violins. I imagine that getting oil on the hair of a bow would be a disaster. I think our luthier friends would have to respond to this.

February 13, 2005 at 03:22 AM · There's no reason to do it, and I wouldn't.

February 17, 2005 at 10:44 AM · this might be a little off the topic (I'm new to violin playing so please excuse my ignorance!) is viol oil a mineral oil? or is it something different? while we're asking - Michael, is it a good idea to use this? sorry everyone if this is a stupid question - like I said, I'm really new to the violin world! Thanks

February 17, 2005 at 12:39 PM · I don't know what viol oil is, but in general its best to not put anything on your violin--no polish, nothing. If you wipe the rosin off well every time you play, you shouldn't have anything to polish. Once in a while you can wipe your violin down with a damp paper towel--that's the least harmful thing you can do, and it won't hurt the instrument if you don't leave it wet.

February 17, 2005 at 01:26 PM · Michael (or anyone else), have you heard of the Renaissance wax? Paul Harrild recommended it to me, and said it was the treatment-of-choice on many Strads and Guarneris nowadays. It's also used by the British Museum for a host of antique-related purposes, and is endorsed by the Queen (that's just trivia!).

February 17, 2005 at 01:29 PM · Michael, I was given "a preparation for cleaning and preserving the varnish of violins" by our luthier. While my violin had been wiped of rosin (I'm the 2nd owner) there was enough of a layer in places, especially under the strings, for there to be dull patches. I would think that the idea to *never* use anything on a violin is a bit too strict - did you really mean never? Or just to be careful?

I absolutely adore the way my instrument looks now, and wipe it assiduously after every playing so the need will never arise again. Someone said that what accumulates under the strings is as much dead skin and oil as it is rosin (yuck) - true? I'm thinking of copying Menuhin's device of putting a tissue underneath.

February 17, 2005 at 03:48 PM · I agree with Michael -- the best thing to put on your instrument is nothing at all. Cleaning with a soft cloth or damp (not soaking wet) paper towel is all that's needed. If you feel like it needs polishing, I would take it to a luthier. Most of the commercial polishes on the market contain waxes and oils that can build up on top of the varnish.

February 17, 2005 at 08:42 PM · I agree with Michael that you should never be putting anything on your violin in terms of commercial polishes and cleaners. As Michael points out, they just add stuff to the surface. I've never come across a cleaner / polish that simply does that without actually adding stuff to the surface.

If the instrument is cleaned after every playing session, it's not likely to get dirty enough to ever really require those sorts of products anyway. I personally just clean mine with a gentle glide of a dry yellow duster after each playing session. Every few months or so, I will very gently clean the body with a slightly moistened tissue, again using hardly any pressure.

As for Rennaissance Wax, I do use that. But I only use it in two main places. Firstly, on the upper right top rib where the left hand goes, and on the butt end of my bow stick. This more or less prevents perspiration damage to those areas. I wouldn't want to put it anywhere else though. I am quite resolute in my opinion that wherever possible, the original varnish on a violin should remain undisturbed unless there is absolutely no other choice. If people cleaned their violins regularly and stopped "fingering" them all the time (I have never touched any varnished surface of my instrument with my fingers), then it wouldn't really be necessary to go polishing them.

Actually it never ceases to amaze me that many players and even some luthiers and their assistants have no clue about how to physically handle a violin with any sort of respect.

February 17, 2005 at 08:41 PM · Renaissance wax is OK. Commercial polishes all work because they have a small amount of solvent in them that (hopefully) dissolves rosin and not varnish. If you keep things perfectly clean, you don't need them. The problem is weaning people from thinking that shiny things are good. In that respect, they resemble magpies. :-) Your violin doesn't have to be shiny, and the process of making it shiny damages the original varnish a little bit, every time you do it. I guess it's your choice, though, ultimately. However, if you want to do the *best* thing for your violin, that's keep it clean so it doesn't need to be polished.

February 18, 2005 at 09:23 AM · Michael - thanks for the reply. What happened was that I started without anyone having warned me that rosin is not a good thing to leave lying around... (if you get my meaning) By the time someone told me I should be wiping the rosin residue off after playing each time there was already a couple of "patches" that didn't look as good as the rest of my violin. Can you recommend a way that I can "get rid" of these? or should I just leave them alone? I live in South Africa and don't have ready access to a luthier (actually the first time I heard of one was on this site!) so any advice would be greatly appreciated!

ps viol oil was recommended to me by my first teacher. it's made in Germany and is apparently (or so the bottle claims) the best thing to use on string instruments to keep them in "top condition".

[has anyone else ever heard of this?]

February 18, 2005 at 12:49 PM · You mean has any one heard of someone claiming to have the best thing in the entire violin universe in whatever category? Sure--all the time. :-)

I would get off as much of the rosin as you can with some violin polish, and then I would forget the rest and clean well from now on. The problem may be that the rosin has fused with the varnish, and that's something you can't fix, yourself, nor will continuing to polish help: it really needs to be dealt with professionally, so after you finish doing your best, you should stop until someone can do the job right. Meanwhile, just keep wiping your violin really well.

There's one more thing you might try, though, before you give up--on your damp paper towel place a drop of liquid diswashing detergent, and try cleaning the spots with that, folowed by a polishing. If that doesn't do it, give up, for now.

There are a few violin makers in South Africa--where are you located?

February 21, 2005 at 08:07 AM · Thanks Michael!

could you give me some names of Violin polish I can trust so that I know I'm getting the right thing this time?

moved to Johannesburg from Natal a while back. I know there's someone who makes violins in the Cape but didn't know there were many others...

thanks again!

March 1, 2005 at 11:08 PM · Rosin on the top should be removed by a professional. If you do decide to do it yourself, the best thing I have found for it is pure orange oil (not Goof Off that has a little orange oil in it!) which you can buy in a health food store, and other places now as well. Citra-Solv is the brand name. I have never had it remove varnish but always always test it first! Again, professional removal is best due to possible complications with cracks or rosin that has mixed with the varnish. Never attempt to remove it yourself on valuable antiques or other high priced instruments.

March 3, 2005 at 02:48 PM · Hi Reed - thanks muchly!

Will check around to see if I can get hold of some orange oil... My violin is bottom of the range and I don't know of any luthiers in my area, so...

Thanks again!


March 8, 2005 at 04:27 AM · I heard the other day, that puting salt in the violin itself can be good for the tone.. not that i've tried it myself, but i'm wandering if it's a good thing or not.. I'v also heard that it's the kind of wood in the strad violins that gave them this wonderful sound. that there is lot of iodine in it, and that is the reason why to put salt in the violin.. anyway.. i personnaly thing that it can do more dammage than good..

March 8, 2005 at 05:04 AM · Should you put salt in the violin? Hell no!

March 8, 2005 at 05:26 AM · I agree. Never put anything on a violin you wouldn't put on a beloved snail.

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