I recently acquired an old italian violin, 1760, beautiful to play, but with tather dull varnish. Has anyone experience of using violin polish, Hill for example, or is there opinions of using or not using polish?
By all means refer it to a professional, so many things can go wrong if you try to do it yourself.
I've tried Hill polish on my violin and it really doesn't do anything except remove the most obvious greasy fingerprints. It will not restore the finish of your violin. Since it doesn't do anything significant, and since there is definitely a non-zero risk of damage with any kind of DIY cleaning method, I now only have my violin cleaned by a professional and even then as seldom as I can. After I practice, I wipe away the rosin dust with a microfiber cloth, going over the whole violin.
Please please follow Lyndon’s advice and take it to a luthier.
... and even if you should end up with a favorable DIY result, it's not preferable to take any risk beforehand. Especially with a fine old fiddle , which always is something irreplaceable.
Can try buffing with a soft cloth. Maybe in combination with the super-fine abrasive wax that is used for stropping the edge on knives, if you're feeling adventurous. Otherwise ask what your luthier would recommend for a fine oil varnish.
Aaron Rosand told me he used Hill polish on his Guarnerius del Gesu and recommended it to me. I use it on my Guadagnini - it’s wonderful. I like how it does not leave a residue. Before using it, test the polish on a clean white cloth in a very discreet spot - such as the rib nearest to the chinrest. If you see any varnish come off on the cloth, it’s not the right one for your instrument. I only polish the area under the string next to the bridge, where most of the rosin build up occurs. Use a very small amount of polish on a microfiber cloth and only polish with the grain of the wood (never perpendicular to it). Also make sure to avoid using polish in areas where there are repaired or open cracks.
DO NOT FOLLOW COTTON'S ADVICE.
I would recommend a damp, not wet, paper towel followed immediately by drying with a dry one. If that doesn't get it, leave it for a pro. Get adjusted to the idea that shiny = cheap and it will be better for your violin in the long run.
Yes, don't follow the advice which I received from a professional orchestra luthier.
My best teacher said to me "if you have to ask, then you're not a luthier and you should go see one". It's blunt, but it works for me and that's what I go by. And don't just see anyone, find a good one. Once I went to someone who was recommended to me, but when he saw my violin he said "wow, that's a tiny guitar!"....I said "haha, no thanks"... and drove 8 hours home to get to a real luthier.
OMG. Please do not use a damp paper towel on a violin. Even if a luthier online tells you to. He may be trained but you are not.
I agree that if you are holding an 18th century Italian violin in your hands, you really don't want to [screw] it up. If you want to DIY, okay, it's your funeral. But seriously ... get advice from an experienced professional who has examined YOUR violin
If you recently bought the violin from a "reputable" dealer you could always ask him, but in order to get the highest price he will already have done as much cleaning and polishing as he considers prudent. On the other hand if it came from ebay...
"Yes, don't follow the advice which I received from a professional orchestra luthier."
Polish your playing, not your violin.
Allow me to thank you all for generous advice and help!I shall of course go to a good luthier, there are a number in Stockholm to whom I can entrust my violin.Thanks again. danbel
I once had a proprietary violin cleaner remove some varnish. The luthier who sold it was shocked, as it contained mostly water plus a fine abrasive. The varnish must have been very soft. He repaired the damage free of charge..
Daniel, you must have acquired that violin directly from the previous owner? Just curious (and between the lines I read the same curiosity from other reactions).
Just as well no-one mentioned boot polish, military grade :)
Do you have papers for this Old Italian violin Daniel?
Don't touch it. Good varnish is very thin, and flexible. If it really is a good, valuable, old Italian violin then just send it in once a year during your vacation to a luthier for a check-up and cleaning. A few decades ago there was a bit of a fad among my colleagues of constant DIY cleaning and polishing. I am glad that trend has passed.
If the vanish is dull, that means the previous owner didn't polish it. There must have been a reason. Listen to Mary Ellen and Gordon.
It's probably just a 19th C violin with a fake Italian label, but even then you don't 'polish' it.
The best polish is the one that you do not use. I believe that Luis Manfio was the first person I heard say it that way.
There is NOTHING in Daniel's original post that would lead ANYONE to conclude that his violin is not authentically a 1760 Italian instrument. "Probably just 19th century with a fake label." Yeah I guess that's possible. Or you might just be jealous.
other than the fact that 99% of violins with 1760 Italian label are fake
Good people! The issue is not of authentication/documentation, how much I paid and how for my very nice violin. The question was of violin polish and if it was a feasible DIY project or should one consult an expert. The overwhelming advice I received from you was to consult a good luthier - which I shall do!
Just a few words to explain that my 1760 violin of charm lay under the bed or wherever for very many years and needed strings bridge, glueing etc. etc. I believe this is the reason for the dull appearance, Danbel
Lyndon that may be true but consider this. When a guy like Nate Robinson comes on here and says he uses Hill polish on his Guadagnini, nobody turns on him with, "Hey Nate, are you sure that's real? Did you buy it on ebay? Most violins that say 'Guadagnini' inside them are fakes."
That Hill polish didnt bode well with my last violin , a 1798 Johannes Cuypers.I used a " smidgen" on the scroll and it took the varnish off instantly.I think turpentine is the main ingredient in that polish.Brutal stuff....
I stand by the water and damp paper towel.
I use toilet paper for cleaning and polishing, its a bit softer than paper towels, and I haven't had trouble with particles rubbing off.
Just a note that some paper products -- possibly including some paper towels and toilet paper -- may contain mineral fillers such as reprecipitated calcium carbonate. Those fillers are likely far too finely divided to have any abrasive effect, but I'm just putting it out there. That's the advantage of microfiber cloths. The paper products have the advantage of being disposable so you always start with a new one.