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Violin polish/cleaner...


Beephormer
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To all the luthiers/restorers, what is the general opinion regarding the Weissaar cleaner and polisher? I realise many have spoken against cleaners such as the one from Hill but noone has mentioned this one.

There seems to be alot of secrecy involved with the cleaning and polishing of instruments. From a players perspective it seems a part of the reason is so we can send our instruments to you to be cleaned, which means a bigger bill for us at the end of the day.

Surely some cleaners are safe enough for the consumer to use at home. From memory, there is a picture of the violinist Rabin cleaning his strad/del gesu with polish from the Wurlitzer company, also, I remember Yehudi Menuhin's biography which he states he would be given some polish from his dealer (maybe it was wurlitzer too...) for him to use at home. Of course his "lord wilton" is supposedly over polished but things can be used less frequently.

So, to all luthiers/restorers please reveal your secrets!

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You're right Beephormer. There is secrecy, I won't try to hide it,

but there are a couple of problems which make it difficult for a

luthier to recommend something. I admit truthfully I try to keep

everything a secret until the last minute when the details are

"dragged" out of me one by one. So what? It's all part of keeping

an open mind actually, because things can change at the last minute

unexpectedly and it's bad to put your foot in your mouth.

The problem is that if I or others recommend something to you as a

cleaner, you may try it and cause some problems, and then who's

fault is it? Or, I may recommend something that is too mild, and it

won't work, and then you might still blame me... maybe. The

reputation of a luthier is vital, as it is based on trust,

word of mouth, and a mutual understanding with the musician or

customer, and once the reputation is gone it's gone. There's always

somebody else out there to "try".  It's not worth the risk

even for most people to say anything at all.

It is complex, because varnishing an instrument is a process which

takes lots of experience, know how and talent., and polishing an

instrument can sometimes be much more than just keeping it clean

with a soft cloth. Please, if you own an instrument keep it clean

with a soft cloth, as Jeffrey suggests.

I don't have a problem recommending using a very tiny drop of

natural oil like walnut oil (also being a beautiful drying

oil, can't go too wrong with it if used VERY sparingly) to help

remove sticky rosin and hard to get oily finger prints., as long as

you know that the surface is non porous and will allow you to wipe

it off clean along with the dirt. Try it in an inconspicuous area,

and if it seems like a problem then bring it to me for a free

cleaning.

The reason why cleaners like the Hill and the Weissaar cleaner are

not recommended is that they contain light  abrasives and

waxes found also in high quality car paint and plastic polish

which can have an unknown effect especially when used incorrectly,

and they can remove varnish is used too much.

Most reputable luthiers and makers should clean your instrument for

free with routine maintenance, and probably use one of those

cleaners or similar which they do not recommend. The

difference is that they know how to be careful not to damage the

varnish when using something a little stronger, and they know how

to do retouch if they do mess up. That's the truth, for me at least

because I NEVER make mistakes.

Best wishes.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Beephormer
To all the

luthiers/restorers, what is the general opinion regarding the

Weissaar cleaner and polisher? I realise many have spoken against

cleaners such as the one from Hill but noone has mentioned this

one. There seems to be alot of secrecy involved with the cleaning

and polishing of instruments. From a players perspective it seems a

part of the reason is so we can send our instruments to you to be

cleaned, which means a bigger bill for us at the end of the day.

Surely some cleaners are safe enough for the consumer to use at

home. From memory, there is a picture of the violinist Rabin

cleaning his strad/del gesu with polish from the Wurlitzer company,

also, I remember Yehudi Menuhin's biography which he states he

would be given some polish from his dealer (maybe it was wurlitzer

too...) for him to use at home. Of course his "lord wilton" is

supposedly over polished but things can be used less frequently.

So, to all luthiers/restorers please reveal your secrets!

Jeffrey, I think Beephormer wants to know what you mean by

"professionally cleaned". I don't mean to cause any touble, but

your 3 lines of text don't inspire much confidence In My Humble

Opinion (IMHO).

I know these things because musicians are very dear to me as

family, and I sense the secrecy just as much as anybody else.

Perhaps you'd like to point out any problems my suggestion of using

a drop of walnut oil might cause? I honestly value your experienced

opinions, but if you have to go get some work done, I above all

people can understand that.

Thanks in advance to any contribution from anyone.

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Lipo thankyou for bringing some truth about cleaning instruments to this forum!

I for one have "with mine own eyes" seen restorers using walnut oil to clean/polish instruments. All this secrecy is now a little more understandable after your reading your post. Cleaning of course is a very painstaking job which I'm sure ends up leaving the restorer with fatigued fingers and forearms.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Lipo

Jeffrey, I think Beephormer wants to know what you mean by

"professionally cleaned". I don't mean to cause any touble, but

your 3 lines of text don't inspire much confidence In My Humble

Opinion (IMHO).


I may not be giving Beephormer the answer desired, but I'm really not being flipant. I am being honest. I mentioned to Beephormer that there are past threads on the subject... many of which I (and many others) contributed to. The search function should bring up a number to choose from. If he wants specifics, he's/she's welcome to come to me, instrument in hand, and I'll happily explain what I'd do to clean his/her instrument.

quote:


I know these things because musicians are very dear to me as

family, and I sense the secrecy just as much as anybody else.


Maybe a 'cellist I used to see every summer at Encore? Loved that 'cello of his.

quote:


Perhaps you'd like to point out any problems my suggestion of using

a drop of walnut oil might cause?


I rarely, if ever, use Walnut oil for that purpose. Problems? As you know, I'm sure, almost anything can cause problems if used in excess or in the wrong situation. I've seen walnut oil soaked into the wood of a rather famous player's Guarneri and Ruggeri (tricky to "wick" it out of the wood), but that was the substance in question being used by his hands... and not yours.

I often use deionized or distilled water to start. Is it safe? Not if I soak the instrument with it. The experience to use the "right" method and choose the "right" substance for any specific situation isn't something I've figured out how to bottle.

quote:


I honestly value your experienced

opinions, but if you have to go get some work done, I above all people can understand that.


Family, work, BB boards... Always a question of balance, isn't it?

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Jeffrey Holmes

quote:


Originally posted by:
Lipo
Jeffrey, I think

Beephormer wants to know what you mean by "professionally cleaned".

I don't mean to cause any touble, but your 3 lines of text don't

inspire much confidence In My Humble Opinion (IMHO).

I may not

be giving Beephormer the answer desired, but I'm really not being

flipant. I am being honest. I mentioned to Beephormer that there

are past threads on the subject... many of which I (and many

others) contributed to. The search function should bring up a

number to choose from. If he wants specifics, he's/she's welcome to

come to me, instrument in hand, and I'll happily explain what I'd

do to clean his/her instrument.

Sorry if you thought I suggested you were being "flipant". I meant

it as just a mild suggestion. Most people are happy to hear a

little good advice directly from a respondent such as yourself, and

maybe would think it flipant to just be told the same thing, and

then to look somewhere else for an answer.

quote:


I know these things because musicians are very dear to me as

family, and I sense the secrecy just as much as anybody else.

Maybe a 'cellist I used to see every summer at Encore?

Now come to think of it, if it's my grandfather you are referring

to, he probably did mention you once to me. I'll be checking up on

you now. j/k.

quote:


Perhaps you'd like to point out any problems my suggestion of

using a drop of walnut oil might cause?

I rarely, if ever, use

Walnut oil for that purpose. Problems? As you know, I'm sure,

almost anything can cause problems if used in excess or in the

wrong situation. I've seen walnut oil soaked into the wood of a

rather famous player's Guarneri and Ruggeri (tricky to "wick" it

out of the wood), but that was the substance in question being used

by his hands... and not yours. I often use deionized or distilled

water to start. Is it safe? Not if I soak the instrument with it.

The experience to use the "right" method and choose the "right"

substance for any specific situation isn't something I've figured

out how to bottle.
Thanks, that is interesting, and of course no instrument should besoaked in anything. Water is a solvent, though be it verymild, and human sweat contains ammonia which dissolves varnisheventually. That's why instruments should just be wiped with a soft

cloth after playing them.

quote:


I honestly value your experienced opinions, but if you have to

go get some work done, I above all people can understand that.

Family, work, BB boards... Always a question of balance, isn't

it?

How true. Thanks for reminding me, and I didn't mean to waste your

time of course.

Kindest regards.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
falstaff


That 2nd one was originally posted by me. I should have titled it , "Varnish damaged by polish" as in the end I was luckily able to correct the problem with some advice on this board. That shop continues to stock large bottles of this polish against my advice and the next violin may not be so lucky.

I give my customers a soft cloth with a drop or 2 of mineral oil on it.

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Neglecting the issue of whether or not Weisshaar cleaner works, I practically went into cardiac arrest from merely cracking the lid. The xylol (or xylene?) it contains is vicious toward breathing and brain function. Weisshaar was good about accepting a return though. I told them of my problem and they readily admitted that they have to work out doors or with copious fresh air when using it. That is perhaps O.K. in California, but for us in the North, it is not feasible for half the year.

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Hi all,

For the first time I own a violin,old or new, I clean it thoroughly (ie, inside and outside).

after that I use only clean soft cloth, sometime a bit of clean water to wet the cloth (no polsih or cleaning agent. To keep it clean I gentlely wipe clean the rosin dust as luthier recommended after each use.

I use fiddlebrite as Connie said in other thread. It seems not doing any harm to the hard varnish of

all my violins.. I am not sure what it would do to the soft varnish (oil varnish), for those more expensive

violins.

Violin shops do have a way to clean violins.

Through their experience they know what cleaning agent to use without runing into

the rish of damage the varnish. I had two violins cleaned by my local shop. $30 each.

I was happy with the result.

PS. I must add that they may have to use two or more cleaning agents as required

at different places of the violin depending on how dirty the palce were. One reason I bouht it

to the shop because there is a stuburn spot where my hard rubbing would not do anything to remove it.

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Yuen,

Just for the record: not all oil varnishes are soft, and not all spirit varnishes are hard. In fact, spirit varnishes are more likely to be damaged by commercial cleaners that genuine drying oil varnishes.

If only one could tell if something was a spirit or an oil varnish...can you?

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Hi Jacob,

Thanks for pointing it out. Here why I said what I said. I have tried violins that had thick soft (oil varnish

according to the luthier) varnish, it seemed so sticky and you could leave easily a finger print on them.

So, I learn what a oil varish is. On the other hand, when I brought my violins to my local shop

they said mine were not oil varnished, so mine are spirit. You can not leave finger prints on mine that is all I know.

You mean there are hard oil finish violins? It would take 100 years for oil varnish to dry. Isn't it?

(please read Hongda's post. pretty much said it all. I was lucky, my violin finally dried after 6 months,

honestly, I did not know what made it dry. It may be the spirit)

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Yuen it seems you have been mislead with regards to varnish types. Firstly, it is with regards to antique varnishes that are difficult to determine whether they are oil or spirit. Iwould be worried if your violin's varnish leaves fingerprints every time you touch it. A violin should be fully dry before being sold - this sounds like a serious problem.

One questionto MANFIO regarding oil when cleaning varnish. Are you suggesting all oils including non-drying and drying should not be used when cleaning/polishing varnish??? Can you truthfully say you don't go near oil when dealing with dirty varnish? I find this very hard to believe...and you may be underestimating players (as many restorers/makers do) in thinking we would go soaking oil into open cracks and seams.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
GMM22

Neglecting the issue of whether or not Weisshaar cleaner works, I practically went into cardiac arrest from merely cracking the lid. The xylol (or xylene?) it contains is vicious toward breathing and brain function. Weisshaar was good about accepting a return though. I told them of my problem and they readily admitted that they have to work out doors or with copious fresh air when using it. That is perhaps O.K. in California, but for us in the North, it is not feasible for half the year.


Don't know what the active cleaning ingredient is in the Weisshaar cleaner, but xylene was almost standard issue in shops 20 to 25 years ago. Nasty smelling stuff. When I first arrived at Shar, they sold a cleaner that contained the chemical... Envisioned a bunch of stoned Suzuki kids running around with clean violins. We took it out of the offering pretty quickly. I recall stories of the a large Chicago shop using it on their sharpening stones, but I didn't see that first hand. I won't have it in my shop...

Xylene cleans rosin very well, but besides giving the user a (probably unhealthy) high, it can be too aggresive for some varnishes. I've seen it remove relatively fresh retouch (quite efficiantly) as well.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
Beephormer

Thanks Jeffrey,

Then perhaps the Weishaar cleaner is okay on bows?

B-Forma


As I mentioned, I'm not sure what's in the Weisshaar cleaner. Bows often have a light coating of shellac on them (which is what the base of many retouch varnishes is). I think it's appropriate to ask the manufacturer/shop what the active chemical is before using it on anything... hopefully they'll be willing to tell you.

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Hi Beephorrner,

I did not buy the violin of which the varnish was so sticky. There was story behind the incident.

One time, 5 years ago, I viisited an East Europe country and had an opportunity to visit

a luthier, one-man shop. He showed me a violin just finished, the varnish was still sticky.

I turned down the offer as you can understand. Nothing against the luthier, it was just not

the right time. If it was dry, it might be different. I feel bad since then, I would not try

violin of a one-man shop. It will be aweful if you decide not to buy. I do not feel bad

if I try violins in a shop.

PS. I did say his violin was good, then he showed me his viola. I loved this luthier.

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