Fingerboard polish that won't show finger marks
I've heard a lot of different methods for polishing a fingerboard (mineral oil + steel wool, toothpaste, shellac), but they all give a candy apple shine for about two days and then get horrible splotches under the fingers.
I don't care for sheen so much as I do just for resilience. Anyone know the trick (NOT going vegan)?
Not gonna use poly either, Paul.
What is your objective?
I guess if you don't have wet paws like me, it's not an issue. Sadly, I do get marks on my fingerboard and dark spots on my strings.
It is remarkable how much dirt is trapped in fingerboards, even when they don't appear dirty. Here is what I do to clean and restore an ebony fingerboard:
What you want is to *clean* your fingerboard. "Polish" implies either that you want to leave some kind of coating that will protect your fingerboard from absorbing moisture or grime, or that you want to use an abrasive on it to make it shiny.
Alcohol pads, squeezed out. Gets the dirt off and dries very quickly. Good for both strings and fingerboard.
While I have heard music critics comment on many things about a performance, I have not yet heard one comment on the sheen of a fingerboard. ;-)
Simply because the great soloists' fingerboard are always spotless. If Hilary Hahn turned up on stage with a filthy, nasty, wet fingerboard, someone would notice.
Actually, you'd be surprised at how much grime is trapped inside fingerboards! It can actually contribute to the blackness of the board. Plus the oils coming off of fingers are absorbed by the wood.
I agree with Scott. I've been using alcohol to clean strings, fingerboards, and chinrests for decades with no problem. I cover the violin with a towel that goes up under the fingerboard, and very carefully squeeze out any excess alcohol from the cloth I am using to wipe so that there is no possibility of a drip contacting the varnish.
Alcohol! Use the pre-packaged wipes that they put in first aid kits, you can buy a box of them at the drugstore and it will be enough to last for years. They don’t drip and have just enough alcohol, and you can carry them in your case.
Remember though that Cotton's finger tips sweat sulfuric acid!
Alcohol should only be a problem if your fingerboard is stained to make it black, not if the wood is naturally black. Of course you must be careful not to drip alcohol on your varnish. The pre-packaged wipes (or "prep pads") are inexpensive. They can also vary in wetness and some of them drip a lot. Also you want to avoid wipes that contain anything but alcohol and water ... avoid detergents, fragrances, etc.
I just wad a cotton handkerchief and hold it over the mouth of a bottle of rubbing alcohol. One quick turn upside down and immediately right side up is all that is necessary. Obviously I do this part well away from the violin, and I make very sure that there is no possibility of dripping from the cloth.
Cleaning strings with alcohol shortens their useful life.
The article doesn't actually say that. It speculates that alcohol modifies the string away from it's theoretical design, but does not prove that this shortens their useful life, or show any evidence that the tone of the string is impaired according to player standards.
I use alcohol but not the wipes that have bene mentioned up thread.