Using Terry Cloth to Clean Strngs
I clean the strings on my fiddle after every use, and I've been using a clean handkerchief. It's been quite a laborious process that squeaks a lot. But by cleaning using several different locations on the cloth, I've finally been able to get each string clean.
The other day, I tried using a terry-cloth towel to clean my strings. It worked quite well and with minimal effort or squeaking. As a check, I followed this terry cloth cleaning by using my handkerchief method. Indeed, the strings were clean. (No squeaking whatsoever, nor did I use any fluids.)
I'm sure there are many ways to clean strings after use. But, I wanted to pass along the success that I had using a piece of terrycloth.
Terrycloth works fine. A lot of folks use a microfiber cloth. Some use wine corks. Some use a little alcohol or ultra-fine steel wool, others say you shouldn't.
Just make sure you aren't leaving tiny cotton fibers behind. Microfiber cloths sold by the violin or rosin houses are a bit safer in that respect.
I use microfiber cloth regularly to clean my strings. If I think they need more vigorous cleaning I use nylon "scrubbies" that can be found for sale on Etsy or ebay. I was directed to the scrubbies 20 years ago by an adult cello student of mine, whose mother made them and sent them to him (they are also supposed to be good for kitchen cleanup).
Studies have shown that gentle rubbing with a microfiber cloth will remove >90% of rosin from strings. Studies have also shown that alcohol dissolves rosin and causes it to soak into the string, where it dries inside and deadens the string.
George - which is why I IMMEDIATELY wipe off the alcohol with dissolved rosin, otherwise it soaks "into the string, where it dries inside and deadens the string" (to quote you, except for one "the").
@ George in the Warchal test did they soak the string in alcohol solution and then allow it to set into string? They do not give any details. I also use the little disposable alcohol pads. They do not saturate the string and any residual alcohol seems to evaporate almost immediately. I only do this once a month to give a good deep cleaning. For daily maintenance I use a clean dry terry cloth.
Andrew, The way I see it is that if a microfiber cloth removes >90% of the rosin on a string, then there is no need to use alcohol wipes, which will very likely damage the string according to the Warchal study. Using alcohol also risks damaging the varnish if not used carefully.
Just to illustrate a different perspective, a light pass with whatever duster I use for my violin is all my strings ever get. As far as I can see there's been no build-up of rosin. My favourite duster was torn from a tee shirt belonging to Florentine violin-maker Paolo Vettori in 1997. It's never been washed.
I am not aggressive about cleaning rosin from the strings. I assume that they will get another coat of rosin immediately the next time I play. I use two ordinary cotton handkerchiefs, one for the strings, the other for the violin.
I use a wine bottle cork to get much of the rosin off and terry cloth to finish the job. It's a good combo for that.
I agree with Joel. If I'm playing quartets for two hours, the pristine-clean string feel (and presumably sound) is only good for about the first two bars. So I don't see the point in achieving that state except for the warm fuzzy feeling it gives me.
I mentioned using a cork for wiping the rosin off of my violin strings many years ago and then Mr. Warchal followed with a post saying that using a cork damages string winding so ditched the cork. When one of the best string makers in the world tells me not to use a cork or alcohol I will heed their advice.
using a terry cloth around a violin worries me - I'm always a tad afraid that one of the tiny loops will catch on something... I use a microfiber cloth to clean the strings after every session. Sure, the rosin will be back on there within minutes of the next one, but I'd rather not have any buildup over time. My strings (currently Rondos on the viola, Warchal on my violin) tend to last quite a while (4+ months) doing this, despite quite a heavy playing schedule. I'd be worried if using fine steel wool that a bit of the string material itself will be worn away, and the strings wouldn't last as long. The Warchal article got me years ago to stop using alcohol to clean the strings.
@Jeff - thanks.
Karl Winkler wrote:
Those disposable blue shop cloths can be useful, the ones made by Scott that come in a roll or a big box like a tissue box.
This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.