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  1. Hi guys! So, I'm getting ready to varnish a fresh, bare patch of spruce on a violin top. But, it's my (shaky) understanding that one must first coat the bare wood with something to "seal" it-- meaning, something that will 1. Protect the wood if the upper layers of varnish are ever worn off, and 2. keep the varnish from soaking all the way through the wood and stiffening it, thus diminishing its tonal qualities. I'm about to do my first varnish, a simple spirit varnish (with some pre-mixed varnishes.... because this is a rush-project for a friend of mine who needs to violin soon)...... what would be a good ground coat for a beginner? I have hide glue at my disposal, but I've heard that diluting that and using it as a ground coat tends to muffle the tonal qualities of the wood. I also have tripoli powder, sandarac, and methylated spirits at my disposal. Could I rub tripoli powder into the wood as a filler/sealant? Or could I use a VERY dilute coating of sandarac dissolved in spirits? Advice is very much appreciated! I've not been able to find a lot of background on this topic that is geared toward beginner varnishers (rather, I see a lot of writing arguing about Cremonese techniques .....). Thanks, guys!!!!! - Sarah