Cost of varnish touchup?
What would a varnish touchup cost for about 2 square inches? The wood isn't damaged, I'm pretty sure it's just the shiny varnish that's come off.
I realise this will vary based on location, I'm just looking to see what the ballpark is. This is a professional luthier with a good reputation in my city.
The damage wasn't my fault - no lectures please! :)
For a real professional you're probably looking at roughly $200.
But that would be someone able to make it not evident that it was touched up at all, more visible retouching could be had much cheaper
A top-quality job could also be a lot more.
I received an email ad for this 82-year old violin yesterday: https://www.sharmusic.com/Instruments/Violin/Professional-Violins/Kurt-Brandt-Violin-1936-Markneukirchen.axd
Thanks everyone, that gives me a decent idea of what I'm looking at. I certainly hope it's not more than $200! Would it be rude to ask for a price estimate before the luthier starts working on it?
Don't even consider leaving it without an estimate of the cost!! And without knowing how good a job they're going to do.
This is a topic that I am loath to dredge up but is humorous in a gross way.I was practising in the basement last April for a difficult Masterseries concert and I had a big sneeze as I was practising.After the rather "wet" sneeze I just kept on slogging through the piece and didnt notice that I expelled a rather big lump of , umm how shall we say mucus pile right on the left upper bout of my 1925 Garimberti.I didn't notice the result of my sneeze for about a half an hour.By then it had eaten into the clear varnish layers and I was at a loss as to what to do.I had Tim Bergen thoroughly clean the entire instrument in May and it cost an extra $50.00 to clean the "problem area" on the Garimberti.I was too embarrased to tell tell him how it happened.
Next time tell him how it happened, it will probably make it easier for him to figure out how to clean it. Keeping stuff from your luthier is like keeping stuff from your doctor. Bad idea.
There will not be a next time Paul....Tim must use a pretty powerful cleaner that moves the varnish around.I will be more aware in the future during allergy season and take necessary precautions.The violin looks fine BTW...
Sorry to be so demanding, but does anyone know how long this procedure would take?
A luthier qualified enough to do the job properly will probably have a back log of work, he may be willing to give you a loaner violin though.
Cleaning, retouching, and some layers of varnish... That takes time. If he can start immediately, then you should expect one full week at a minimum.
Thank you both for the info and advice. I'll ask him for a price/time estimate and possibly go with the clear varnish option if it's going to take too long.
the violin is supposed to wear in that area.
Are you suggesting I leave the wood exposed? (Not being sarcastic - if it's an option, I'll consider it)
yes, its an option,
If the wear is on the treble side upper rib where the hand touches, it's not uncommon to leave the worn appearance, and periodically apply some clear varnish to protect the wood. It's also not uncommon to have some adhesive plastic film applied to the area to protect the varnish and wood, and minimize future wear.
Is that adhesive hard to remove David? Does it take varnish with it when it's taken off?
It can, so it's best to have the same professional remove it who applied it. They SHOULD know how to remove the product they used, without damage.
A word of caution: after the varnish is applied, it can take weeks and even months to cure fully, depending on the type of varnish used.
Can you use wax paper on the inside of the case with a newly varnished instrument?
Anne Sophie Mutter uses this adhesive plastic film on her Strads, as far as I know. I haven't ever seen one of those from close - David, is it obvious or does one need to know it to recognize that it's on?
It's not obvious, but can be seen if you are looking for it. One tell-tale is a vertical line on the rib where it ends (with the fiddle horizontal, as in playing position). Sometimes, a plastic film with a very weak adhesive is used (like clear "shelf paper"), and then one might see opaque areas where it has separated.
... and if it separates, it doesn't make noises?
I might just get the clear varnish. I'm seeing the luthier today. The only issue is if he refuses to do it this way. Will update everyone in this thread in a few hours.
Update if anyone was interested: I opted for the coloured varnish. it will only take a couple of days and it costs a lot less than expected. Thanks for the advice!
Wow,$200 for such a small area is excessive. I'd understand $200 or more for almost the full top or bottom. If you have to take the violin apart, I guess it will be much more expensive.
"Wow,$200 for such a small area is excessive."
A poor varnish touch up job is going to devalue the violin more than doing nothing at all IMHO
After reading some of the responses here I've been inspired to look at my old #1 violin (late 18th c) with more of a forensic eye and noticed a varnish wear mark on the neck where the player's thumb rests when playing in the 5th position and above. From that I can make a deduction that the instrument was likely used for a long time by a first violinist, rather than by a second violinist. I think this would have happened in decades before 1850, when the violin entered my family and where it has been ever since.
Well, sorry if I sounded... wrong.
Tim, the level of skill and work required depends on the varnish surrounding the area, and if you want a virtually invisible repair when it is complete.
$50 pays for a repair that is quite obvious and far from invisible, if you think its easy, try it yourself!!
If the level of difficulty is the main reason you use to set those $200, then you won't be surprised if someone charges you $100 per hour for a lesson about resolving college level integrals, will you?
The level of professional needed to make a repair invisible generally works for $150/hr or even more, I work for $50 an hour, which is cheap, and cannot make varnish touch up "disappear", that's why you need a real pro if you're trying to minimize the devaluation for your violin. If someone works for much less than $50/hr you can almost guarantee that they will do more damage to you violin than good.
Well, well, well, of course, the "hours" spent must be backed up. You can't just add hours because you are slow or do unnecessary things to get the job done. Truth be told, I've never seen this kind of reparation, but I do have seen plenty of violin making videos from many different manufacturers/luthiers, as well as plenty of videos about reparations in string instruments. I really like to observe and learn how string instruments are made: guitars, violins... I've even done myself some important reparations and modifications in string instruments, thought not classical ones like viola, violin, cello...
I'd be more than willing to call some of the top restorers "artists". I've been involved in running one of the world's highest level continuing-education restoration workshops for years, and some of the people there would just blow your mind with what they can do. If you want to drop by sometime for an hour or two (further permissions and arrangements would be needed), we might be up for that. I think Laurie Niles has visited the associated Vioin Making workishop, and has written a blog about that.
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