I cleaned my violin with baby wipes... Please Help.

November 29, 2017, 1:11 AM · Yesterday, I realized that my violin was very dirty, because it was covered in a lot of powder and dust from the rosin. I thought that the best solution would be to use baby wipes to clean my violin, so I did... 10 minutes after doing the actual process, I finally considered whether it was actually ok to use baby wipes on my violin. After googling for about 5 minutes, I came to a conclusion that baby wipes should never be used for cleaning the violin. This is because the baby wipes may erode the varnish off of the violin. I panicked and tried to get as much "baby wipe liquid" off of my violin, by using a slightly wet cloth and drying it afterwards with a dry tissue. I don't know if that did anything, but I still regretted using baby wipes to clean my violin. The next day (Today), I looked at my violin to see if the varnish actually eroded. I could definitely tell that some parts of the violin were really light, in odd patterns, and I could even tell the difference in texture/feeling between the spots that were significantly lighter and the places which still had a lot of varnish (darker spots). Even when shining light upon the violin, the places which still had varnish reflected light backwards, while the lighter spots reflected very little. I realized that the varnish in some parts of the violin did indeed melt off. I was very horrified, to look at my 2,000 $ dollar with large, ugly, white circular shapes on some places, while the rest remained pretty normal. It absolutely disturbed me, and I am wondering if it is possible to go to a local luthier to cover up the white spots. Is it possible for a local luthier to cover up the white spots by applying extra varnish? If it is possible, then do I have to go to the luthier I originally bought my violin from, or can I go to any local luthier? Please answer ASAP, as I am extremely terrified that there may be no solution to recover my violin to it's original stance when I first ever laid my hands on it.

Replies (96)

November 29, 2017, 2:30 AM · First, I will repeat it: the best violin cleaner/polish is that one the player NEVER USES.

Part of the Baby Wipes residue may have dried over the varnish, making it appear dull or whitish.

Yes, take it to a luthier.

November 29, 2017, 3:18 AM · Yep, time for a trip to the luthier.
Edited: November 29, 2017, 7:52 AM · It has been many, many years since I last used baby wipes, and that was for the purpose for which they were intended. However, it is useful to have a post that points out that they are not a good idea for cleaning violins.

We need more such useful posts about the things you should not do to violins; starting with the ubiquitous practice of leaving it lying on your chair during a break in an orchestral rehearsal (so put it back in its case and close the case!)
November 29, 2017, 6:13 AM · Wow, I don't know how you own a $2000 violin and dared to use something like that to clean it. Seriously.

When I was reading your post I thought "oh, it's a poor beginner that doesn't know that much about violins". Then I saw the $2000 number and couldn't believe you. I mean, if you own that violin I guess you're no beginner at all, and after all these years playing the violin it's really weird you didn't know you can't clean the violin just like that. Shame.

November 29, 2017, 6:35 AM · Its not the end of the world and it also might not be as bad as you think. Lesson learnt, dont make yourself feel too bad. Going to see a luthier might set your mind at ease. And if it sounds ok, this is what matters most at the end of the day. Its not an expensive antique or an expensive professional instrument, so you wouldnt have lost your money (since you bought it to play on, not as an investment).
November 29, 2017, 8:10 AM · Try a clean soft cloth and see if you can buff out the spots. I can't see baby wipes having a harsh cleaner in it, specially since it is for the sensitive parts of a baby. Also, the luthier can sell you a violin cleaner or wax which most likely will take out the white circles(similar to rings on a wood table). Lastly, don't do that again, but you know that already.
November 29, 2017, 11:13 AM · The ingredient list of typical baby wipes doesn't mention a problematic solvent such as alcohol, but plenty of stuff that won't evaporate. I'm not sure what "Butoxy PEG-4 PG-Amodimethicone" exactly is, though.

If the light spots only show up after drying, not while it was still moist, it suggests that it is a residue, rather than patches with the varnish removed. Maybe try treating a mirror the same way to see what kind of residue sticks to it.

November 29, 2017, 11:19 AM · Don't try do anything yourself; you will most likely only make things worse. Take it to a luthier.

And never, never use anything wet to wipe down the varnish of a violin.

November 29, 2017, 11:23 AM · Baby Wipes leaves an oily residue, it contains something to moisture the skin. if I am not wrong.

Use only a soft cloth to clean your violin after playing and leave the rest to be done by a good professional when necessary.

Violin polishes and cleaners may damage the varnish of good violins.

I will quote Charles Beare:

"The other problem with the polish that we and everybody else sell is that there is usually an oil in there somewhere. And an oil is not good news for the four joints that are commonly found in the purfling. If one of these comes loose, it will have catastrophic effects on the tone of the instrument, almost anywhere on a violin. Even if it does not make a buzz, it will have an effect on the volume and solidity of the tone. We are forever gluing the purfling at the top of the bass bar or at the botton under the chinrest, in order to cure tonal deficiencies, as well as shoulders and that sort of thing. But I mean that if oil gets in the purfling or into an old crack, it's going to be quite a while before you can get i out again."

November 29, 2017, 11:24 AM · Lol I suspect the OP is just gonna keep getting more flak for this.
Edited: November 29, 2017, 1:18 PM · about the violin cleaner or wax - I'm sure his luthier will take care to use the proper products and use them properly and sparingly.
November 29, 2017, 1:08 PM · What about the polishes wich just contain water and exremely fine pumice powder?
Edited: November 29, 2017, 1:13 PM · I don't think water and violins mix well.

Violins are held together with hide glue. It's water based. Adding moisture is a huge no-no. Unless you don't mind another trip to the luthier to have your violin glued back together. And then there is the warp factor- those don't stay glued together for long.

Edited: November 29, 2017, 1:12 PM · Your violin may be your "baby", but it is not "a" baby.

Please wipe it accordingly with a soft cloth :-D

A good luthier should be able to reverse the damage you have caused.

November 29, 2017, 2:33 PM · Jim, when we sweat, we're putting water on the violin, all the time. I guess the sentence "violins and water don't mix well" is incomplete. I would add "high concentrations of water". When we breath out we're giving the violin fresh vaporized water, exactly 3% of what we exhale is water vapor.
November 29, 2017, 3:12 PM · and the violins pay for that sweating... it really doesn't take much moisture to work into the wood and weaken it or the glue that holds it, even a slightly moist towel can kill a table, even quicker than oils; even a humid day is not a good thing... best to avoid it where you can, no sense adding to it
November 29, 2017, 4:03 PM · Poor babies. Just imagine the impact on skin if it damages varnish!
November 29, 2017, 4:42 PM · I was actually surprised that baby wipes don't have any alcohol in them, actually.

I'm scared of using hand sanitizer too close to practicing, because know that has alcohol in it.

November 29, 2017, 5:29 PM · I'm almost afraid to ask... what did you use on your baby?
November 29, 2017, 8:18 PM · I used to use DAP and other chemicals to get grease off my hands after working on my bike. Then I discovered baby wipes such as Wet Ones. They're fantastic for removing oil and grease.

So I'm not surprised they can damage varnish.

November 29, 2017, 9:06 PM · Heh you're all lucky. I had once upon a time used Clorox wipes to get dirty oil grime from my hand. I had to bring it to a luthier to get the varnish redone because I kept wiping and I should've realized something was wrong when the Clorox white became the color of the violin.
November 30, 2017, 2:03 AM · It is interesting remembering that newborns are covered with a protective layer on their skin that is called "vernix" in Latin, this word became "vernice" in Italian and "varnish" in English.
November 30, 2017, 3:25 AM · I don't see any problem wiping a violin with a slightly damp cloth, cleaning by luthiers usually involves either water, or polishing with powder and oil. Oil is dangerous as it can ruin open cracks or seams, not so with a damp cloth, I checked on this with an expert and he agreed.
Edited: November 30, 2017, 5:01 AM · Unless you think the original post is some kind of hoax, I don't understand the need for all the petty jeers and chuckling. Everyone makes mistakes. I just don't see the point of the relentless scolding and general meanness.

While I generally have the expertise and knowledge of skilled luthiers in high regard, one wonders what they use when you give your violin to them for a $100 "professional cleaning." Is it really just soft cloths or is there any liquid used? And if so what is the liquid? None of them will ever say because, so they claim, it depends on the violin and the type of varnish used and they don't want to be held responsible if someone uses the wrong liquid on the wrong varnish. So questions like, "Do you ever use anything besides water?" are answered with blank stares. Nowadays the Chinese are churning out thousands of violins per week or something. An antique or a bench-made modern instrument is one thing, but is there really so much variation in the varnish formulation of today's factory violins?

Edited: November 30, 2017, 5:29 AM · Once all cracks and seams have been properly repaired I use a cloth with a teaspoon of linseed oil on the cloth dipped in a box of rotten stone, start on the back to mix the linseed oil on the cloth with the rottenstone, until its all picked up on the cloth, then polish thoroughly and all the linseed oil wiped off with a clean cloth. This gives a slightly satin gloss to the finish, and won't dissolve varnishes. Dirt should be cleaned off before polishing, though. I charge $10-20 for the process, it takes about 10 min.
Edited: November 30, 2017, 12:41 PM · Lyndon you might want to consider a different natural triglyceride other than linseed oil. Linseed contains around 50% alpha linoleic structures which are the origin of its characteristic reactivity with oxygen, which is a type of polymerization that could lead to the formation of an insoluble residue. That's what happens when linseed oil "dries." With a little googling I discovered that sunflower oil contains far less (almost none) of this reactive alpha-linoleic component. Just a thought.
Edited: November 30, 2017, 1:16 PM · If you are going to leave a very very thin coat of oil on your violin, it damn well better be something that dries!! Besides we know Stradivari's undercoat and varnish included linseed oil, so its an authentic adulterant!!
November 30, 2017, 1:22 PM · Brian, boiling hot water, used to clean up glue will often discolour the varnish so it looks whiteish, this can be polished out with the linseed oil and rottenstone, I can only hope (and pray) that this is the kind of thing you are dealing with and that you didn't actually remove large sections of varnish but rather whitened (discoloured) the surface of the varnish, I think I vote for the luthier, not home remedy, you don't have a very good track record in this case.
Edited: November 30, 2017, 1:28 PM · The things I know of that could quickly remove varnish would be alcohol or acetone, since I'm pretty sure you baby wipes contain neither, I think there's a good chance that you haven't stripped off large sections of varnish, but rather discoloured the surface of the varnish.
Edited: November 30, 2017, 1:57 PM · Lyndon wrote, "If you are going to leave a very very thin coat of oil on your violin, it damn well better be something that dries!!"

The problem is that in the case of linseed oil "drying" does not mean evaporation. It means curing (polymerization) to form a cross-linked solid. Stradivari surely valued it for that very reason (as many others have before and since). Not many natural materials have such reliable qualities with respect to that kind of physical transformation. I would think that in your polishing operation you would want to leave as little residue as possible, especially if that residue will be resistant to removal later.

November 30, 2017, 2:01 PM · "It is interesting remembering that newborns are covered with a protective layer on their skin that is called "vernix" in Latin, this word became "vernice" in Italian and "varnish" in English."

Luis, my second child having just been born, I find this etymological factoid delightful=)

Martin, we use baby wipes, but I thought that smell had a tinge of alcohol in it--sounds like not, though.

November 30, 2017, 2:18 PM · Paul, I use multiple clean rags to clean up the linseed oil so that there is negligible residue, polishing powders work with oils, a non drying oil is not an option. You had the audacity to want to know what your luthier does when he polishes your violin, so I tell you, now your trying to tell me I'm doing it wrong, sorry, not going to work with me!!
November 30, 2017, 2:52 PM · Just throwing this into the mix: Sydney Strings Centre - How to clean your violin...


Edited: November 30, 2017, 3:30 PM · Lyndon as usual you're overreacting. Take your finger off your exclam key and relax. Perhaps consider popping a Valium.

I appreciate greatly that you shared your method with us. I didn't say you were doing it wrong. I only suggested that you consider the possible negatives associated with linseed oil in particular, because maybe you hadn't. In your original response you didn't say multiple cloths either.

From your responses it was actually rather clear that you chose that particular liquid with either little thought or with the flawed rationale that linseed oil is an ingredient in traditional varnish formulations. A rationale that is similar to the idea of trying to ripen a banana by placing it in a polyethylene bottle.

November 30, 2017, 3:54 PM · Actually my embarrassing secret is that I don't use cloths at all, I use toilet paper, works great for polishing and cleaning up any residue of the polish. I use linseed oil because that is what I was taught in my apprenticeships and is used by many luthiers.
November 30, 2017, 4:10 PM · Toilet paper is very absorbent. And conveniently disposable. I'm sure your clients are happy with their shiny violins!
November 30, 2017, 4:31 PM · Rottenstone does not get a high gloss finish, you get high gloss with tripoli, and satin with pumice and rottenstone is between those two extremes.
November 30, 2017, 7:55 PM · I don't know the differences among those abrasives. I thought tripoli and rottenstone were the same thing.
November 30, 2017, 8:06 PM · Ah, well, there it is, we humans are fallible. Not a mistake you'll make twice, huh? (The answer is "no!!!")
November 30, 2017, 8:14 PM · Tripoli is finer particles than rottenstone, I think it may actually be the same substance, though. Pumice is larger particles.
November 30, 2017, 9:39 PM · As far as the ingredients: PEG is used to hold moisture. It should come off fairly easily with water.
Dimethicone is a common ingredient in skin creams and has a barrier effect. It is also used in silicone based lubricants.
It is the main ingredient in creams like Barrier cream or Prevex.
These creams are good on the baby bum as they protect the skin from chemicals in the stool and urine that can irritate.
I have used Barrier cream on my hands before painting with alkyd paint. Afterwards you can just wash your hands and the paint comes off as it does not penetrate the protective cream layer.
How you get the dimethicone off the varnish I don't know.
Maybe a mild soap will do the trick but experimenting may make things worse. Best to research this thoroughly first. I doubt any luthier has experience with dimethicone residue on varnish.
December 1, 2017, 1:35 AM · I wonder what would happen if one used a Lysol wipe instead of a baby wipe.
December 1, 2017, 2:20 AM · Linseed oil can penetrate in open seams, small cracks, purfling joints, making future repairs a nightmare.


Edited: December 1, 2017, 6:14 AM · What we recommend for players is that they wipe the violin and bow stick after playing. If rosin is wiped off regularly, is usually doesn't become encrusted and attached to the varnish. Wash your cleaning cloths regularly. The idea is to remove dirt and rosin, not redistribute them. ;-) Cotton cloths can be put through the washer with your regular wash.

When there is slightly more grime, or dried perspiration, the old trick for cleaning eyeglasses works well, where you exhale on them to fog them, them immediately wipe with a clean cloth.

As Luis Claudio Manfio has stated, we don't recommend cleaners, polishes or oils of any kind for home use. Leave more aggressive cleaning (or polishings) to your luthier. It can be a bit of a minefield, as this thread highlights.

December 2, 2017, 12:34 AM · So David and Manfio, you are saying you don't use oil to polish the varnish on your violins???
December 2, 2017, 2:32 AM · No, they only say no oil at home/DIY. What they do in the workshop is not disclosed. You are the only luthier so far who did disclose a trick of the trade.
December 2, 2017, 2:45 AM · test
December 2, 2017, 3:05 AM · Well I wasn't recommending doing it at home, either.
Edited: December 2, 2017, 5:18 AM · Han, the object is not to be secretive, but to protect instruments and players. A variety of cleaners may be used, depending on the nature of the varnish, and what needs to be removed. Use the wrong cleaner, and you remove varnish. And some of them should only be used with the right type of barrier gloves, a fume hood or an organic solvents mask.

An example of one of the milder things we may use is a product called Vulpex, which came to us from the museum/conservation trade. But one still needs to be cautious with this, as it too can remove some varnishes, and will vary in strength according to the amount of dilution. An even milder thing we might try is deionized water, which has stronger solvent properties than regular water. But even water will harm the varnish on some instruments, so that's why cleaners are often selected on a case-by-case basis.

Instrument preservation/repair these days is headed very much in the conservation direction, versus replacement of damaged parts or varnish (which was common years ago). Polishing by using abrasive powders isn't really something which is favored by the high-end restoration/preservation community these days, since the mechanism by which these work is by removing some amount of varnish.

Edited: December 2, 2017, 5:31 AM · Most top shops still go way overboard on touching up varnish to make it look "perfect" almost new, I don't do that at all, I don't touch up varnish, I leave the wear as it was.

I should add its my policy not to work on instruments worth more than $10,000. I work mostly on student/intermediate grade instruments with a few what I call budget professional. David has training to work on much more expensive instruments, so does my colleague I work closely with. If I stumble across a really valuable instrument I turn it over to a real expert. I recognize my limitations, I work on cheaper instruments that the big shops don't often have the time or patience to work on, as there's little profit in it for them at their higher labour rates.

Edited: December 2, 2017, 8:31 AM · Vulpex is a detergent solution. It is one of those chemical formulations that is intentionally mysterious so as to avoid the assignment of a CAS number. It is apparently made by combining potassium hydroxide (caustic potash), oleic acid, and 2-methylcyclohexanol. My guess is that there is no chemical reaction among these substances other than conversion of oleic acid to potassium oleate, and that the 2-methylcyclohexanol is present in its original state. The trade-name given, "potassium methyl cyclohexyl oleate," sounds to me like an intentional obfuscation, on the part of the manufacturer, of what would otherwise be chemically trivial. However, I'm ordering some of this stuff so that I can confirm my suspicions by chemical analysis. (Wow -- it's expensive. You guys are getting ripped off big time.)

Lyndon, don't worry I'm not going to polish my violin with rottenstone and linseed oil or any other type of oil. I may try it out, however, next time I make a piece of furniture.

Edited: December 2, 2017, 9:26 AM · Paul, you should see what some people will pay for something like their favorite tiny varnish retouching brush! ;-)

December 2, 2017, 9:12 AM · Potassium oleate is essentially a form of household (soft, brown) soap. Not sure about the properties/purpose of the cyclohexanol. At least, vulpex is marketed as "liquid soap", so that's fair enough.
Edited: December 2, 2017, 9:33 AM · A little more on Vulpex:

Even this must be used with care, as a surface must be rinsed after use, and it will also dissolve or soften or swell many paint and varnish films. I didn't mean to recommend it for home use on instruments, any more than I recommend anything else. It's just one of many things in a restorers arsenal.

December 2, 2017, 11:02 AM · David, thanks, that saves me a lot of work. Unfortunately they don't report how they prepared the GCMS sample or how they did that analysis, but it's better than nothing. The claim that Vulpex contains no "free methylcyclohexanol" is very suspicious to me.
December 2, 2017, 1:43 PM · I still stand by my assertion that David Burgess must use oil and polishing powder to finish the varnish on his violins, are you denying that, David??
December 3, 2017, 3:58 AM · Yes.

Not that using oil and abrasive powder would matter on a maker's own violin, because however that maker chooses to do it is "original" by definition. I just don't happen to do it that way.

But why would you assert that I do it a certain way, when you have no such knowledge? What's the point?

December 4, 2017, 1:53 AM · According to experts in Hans Weisshaar's and Margaret Shipman's Violin Restoration manual, one of the shops David apprenticed at, varnish touch up concludes with "Fine Pumice, Rottenstone or Vienna Chalk used together with oil on a cotton cloth". If David has a better method to this perhaps he should state what it is???
December 4, 2017, 5:31 AM · dear experts,
I once was told and have also read that our free saliva is the simplest and the best cleaning agent for our previous violins.

Does any of you recommend against it? And if so, could you please share your opinion?

Thank you.

Edited: December 4, 2017, 5:39 AM · Lyndon, I don't recall anyone actually doing it that way, when I was working at the Weisshaar shop. The usual method was to use solvent to smooth retouching varnish (non-original varnish) when smoothing or leveling was needed.

But instrument restoration is a kinetic profession, and much has changed since that book was written. It's one of the reasons I attend the Oberlin Restoration Workshop every year... keeping up with the latest techniques and practices.

Edited: December 4, 2017, 5:36 AM · I wonder what would happen if there was a thread that was the reverse of this ... "Help, I accidentally wiped my baby's rear end with Hill Polish." Lyndon? Anything on that?
December 4, 2017, 5:37 AM · And by the way if you use too much Vienna Chalk you can get a condition called "Vienna Fingers" where you have an uncontrollable urge to nibble your digits.
Edited: December 4, 2017, 5:55 AM · LOL, Paul, since Hill polish contains a "drying oil", Baby's bottom might need to be sandblasted to remove it, if it remained there long enough. ;-)
December 4, 2017, 8:18 AM · In the 60's I had a teacher who recommended 2 drops of ammonia in a teacup of water, dampen a cloth with it and wipe the violin clean. It looked good after. It was an old Klingental fiddle I actually disliked a lot, one of those unwieldy clunkers.
I imagine it would remove some of the skin oils but not sure what else.
December 4, 2017, 9:18 AM · At that concentration, ammonia may not be very harmful. However, ammonia happens to be what I use for removing stubborn dried varnish from my varnish cooking containers. Another hazard, at higher concentrations, is the alkalinity. Some varnish colorants are PH sensitive, and will change color if the PH of the varnish is altered. I recall one person who created a purple stripe on a violin where ammonia was used.
December 4, 2017, 1:22 PM · A purple varnish violin would be different for sure. Can greens or blues be achieved with a natural varnish, or does that require metallic additives?
Edited: December 4, 2017, 4:37 PM · Ammonia can do more than adjust pH. If there are metallic additives it could possibly mess those up. But at those concentrations probably not. I suspect that two drops of ammonia in a cup of water has primarily a placebo effect on the person applying it.
Edited: December 4, 2017, 6:03 PM · Paul, I suspect so too.
Edited: December 4, 2017, 9:06 PM · Sort of like homeopathy for the luthier.
Edited: December 4, 2017, 9:13 PM · David, just to warn you I have the same suspicion about the use of distilled water vs. tap water. It's hard to envision how the presence of a few minerals affects the "cleaning power" of water. Of course I am aware (from my own experience working in industrial labs) that certain additives are included in detergent formulations to prevent specific chemical interferences between the detergent and waterborne minerals (especially calcium and magnesium), but in the absence of a detergent I can't really imagine what kind of smudge, stain, or whatever might be on a violin that comes off better with distilled water. On the other hand distilled water is a dollar a gallon at the supermarket, so you might as well use it.
December 5, 2017, 5:16 AM · Still nobody wanting to comment on saliva?
December 5, 2017, 5:35 AM · I think you can see the results of saliva drool on the treble side of the tailpiece on many old violins. Certainly you have to wipe it off in time or it definitely does not clean the surface.
December 5, 2017, 6:27 AM · Paul, I don't know anything about the mechanism by which deionized water is supposed to clean better. I've heard descriptions like it being "hungrier" for contaminants, since it has fewer to begin with, but I'm sure that isn't at the technical level you're looking for. What I've run across in the fiddle world is just based on experience with using it.
December 5, 2017, 8:07 AM · So - has any of this helped Brian Jin clean his violin?
What shape is it in now?
December 5, 2017, 8:56 AM · "Still nobody wanting to comment on saliva?"

Saliva works well in cleaning little spot, it is rather aggressive and should not be left on the varnish.
But if you wet your finger and rub it on the spot to be cleaned, followed by a thorough cleaning with a soft microfiber cloth the result could be surprising.
I think the effectiveness is due to the presence of enzymes.
Avoid after heavy dinners or overly alcoholic happy hours....:-)

Edited: December 5, 2017, 10:14 PM · Thank you for sharing your insights, Mr.Sora. It is good to know that it should not be left on the varnish. ThAt is the first time I am told so.
December 6, 2017, 2:47 AM · I've seen glitter embedded in oil varnish, it may be very difficult to remove.
December 6, 2017, 3:29 AM · OMG! Thanks a lot for posting it. I was about to do the same to my sons violin.
Edited: December 6, 2017, 9:37 AM · As for saliva, I think it was Heifetz who said something about using "good old-fashioned spit" on his violin.

I have a problem related to this thread. If rosin dust gets on my violin between the bridge and fingerboard whilst playing, it comes right off with my cloth, down to a nice shine. But it tends to stick more on my daughter's violin which suggests the finish has been compromised there (likely a history of overcleaning or using solvents, etc.), and it never gets shiny there either. It doesn't look like bare wood either, though. The violin is 120 years old. Thus I wonder whether there is some kind of overcoat that could be applied. I would never try to do this myself, but I wonder if this kind of "overcoating" is something that luthiers ever do.

December 6, 2017, 12:08 PM · Isn't a light coat of wax sometimes applied to fine violins and polished to a luster? Maybe yours has some and your daughter's needs some?
December 6, 2017, 12:17 PM · It never ceases to amaze me that people own antiques and yet want to make them look modern, if they want modern they should buy a modern violin.
December 7, 2017, 2:17 AM · Jason, it is not a "normal" wax, many top shops use RENAISSANCE WAX. Again, not for do it by yourself.
Edited: December 7, 2017, 6:08 AM · Lyndon it's not just appearance but the nagging fear that somehow the wood in that area is not as well protected if it doesn't have the same shiny gloss as the rest of the instrument. Also it's just harder to clean which frustrates the particular user of the instrument.

And don't forget that the reverse it true too ... luthiers "antiquing" to make a modern instrument look old!

Edited: December 7, 2017, 12:41 PM · Yes as everyone noted no baby wipes or hand sanitizing wipes are to be used on a violin. Many of them contain alcohol which erodes varnish. As far as polish goes, W.E. Hill and Sons makes a good one. I only apply a very tiny amount to the area under my strings (where the rosin builds up) on my Guadagnini. I polish using a microfiber cloth, wiping with the grain of the wood for about 20-30 seconds. Then I use a dry microfiber cloth to remove the excess polish till it's completely dry. I don't use polish on any other areas of the violin - I leave that to my luthier. Before using polish, I would test it in a discreet, inconspicuous area of the violin with a small amount to make sure it does not take off any varnish. If you have cracks on your instrument, do not polish in those areas.
December 7, 2017, 6:45 PM · I was told in my youth that professionals rubbed their violin with a brazil nut.
December 7, 2017, 8:06 PM · That sounds nutty.
December 9, 2017, 4:07 PM · Not sure if it's been mentioned but for the future, just keep a dry cloth handy. Sharmusic sometimes gives one out, or you can also just keep a handkerchief handy if you sweat like a dog like I do. Rosin is pretty easy to get off as long as it hasn't been sitting there for months.
December 9, 2017, 5:01 PM · Technicon used to recommend using cyclohexanol for sealing two pieces of Tygon tubing together - it did this by softening the plastic as it was adsorbed by the plastic. Methylcyclohexanol is unlikely to be very different. Moral: Don't use Vulpex on varnish.
December 9, 2017, 8:28 PM · John are you sure that wasn't cyclohexanone?
December 15, 2017, 10:21 PM · @Adrian heath: pumice powder, extremely fine or not, should never come in contact with varnish. It wears it away.
December 17, 2017, 4:37 PM · Unless a luthier does it for $50 an hour. Then it's okay.
December 19, 2017, 5:57 AM · I want this thread to be in the violinist.com hall of fame.
December 20, 2017, 7:56 PM · Where do you find a luthier who works for $50/hr?
December 20, 2017, 8:00 PM · www.taylorsfineviolins.com!!
December 20, 2017, 8:13 PM · Yes, Andrew, there are many advantages of living in a low-cost-of-living area.
December 21, 2017, 6:21 PM · Paul, now you say it, I'm not sure that it wasn't cyclohexanone - but visit https://www.verderflex.com/fileadmin/files/verderflex/documents/Verderflex_Chemical_Compatibility_Guide/Verderflex_Chemical_Compatibility_Guide.pdf .
Both seem to be stronger than ethanol.
But when a solvent is mixed with another solvent, it's effect can be markedly reduced in some circumstances - but not so much in others.

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Yamaha Silent Violin
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Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine