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sunnybear
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Will rubber cement hurt the varnish of a violin? I am playing without a shoulder rest and have used a chamois cloth to help keep the fiddle from slipping around. Recently a friend showed me her trick...apply rubber cement on a cosmetic sponge and let it dry. The sponge then can be placed on the back of the violin and removed at will. I've tried this on a lesser quality violin and it looks like there are no adverse effects.

What do you think?

thanks

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Will rubber cement hurt the varnish of a violin? I am playing without a shoulder rest and have used a chamois cloth to help keep the fiddle from slipping around. Recently a friend showed me her trick...apply rubber cement on a cosmetic sponge and let it dry. The sponge then can be placed on the back of the violin and removed at will. I've tried this on a lesser quality violin and it looks like there are no adverse effects.

What do you think?

thanks

I think this may be a case in which no one will say "sure, go ahead"... I know I'm not going to... as varnishes vary in their makeup. I will say that I know several players who do use a makeup sponge and rubber cement, have for several years and I haven't really seen problems, yet. These players do allow the cement to dry very thoroughly before using, however.

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I have seen only one problem, and that was a darker circle where the pad was. I don't know if the exposed varnish wore, or bleached, or if the pad darkened what was under it. It was a nice violin, and not a good thing to happen. Other than that, many people in Chicago use them, and I have seen no other example of damage. That once was enough for me not to recommend it, though. I suspect in most cases it wouldn't matter, and if I had a factory-type violin, maybe I'd do it--many of our renters of student violins do, and it hasn't caused any damage on any of them.

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These players do allow the cement to dry very thoroughly before using, however.

The solvent in rubber cement is pretty nasty stuff that would likely damage any varnish. If there is some residual solvent, there could be problems. Even if the solvent does leave completely, it would be hard to say what the "rubber" and varnish interactions might be.

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Sunnybear,

In the '60's and 70's this practice was a fad even in some major orchestras and was used on some very fine instruments. I used it with no problem. But some people did have damage to their instruments. Interestingly enough, none of the damaged violins I saw were the best ones. There were three factors, I think, that caused problems. Of course some violins had a less durable varnish, and some violinists didn't let the rubber cement dry and cure first. But the people who had the biggest problem seemed to be those who would take the pad off every time they put the violin away. I, and others, left the pad on all the time, just taking it off when necessary. It might be that some used too much cement, too. It doesn't take too much to hold the pad.

It's a coincidence that on a performance from Lincoln Center, broadcast here on Saturday, the violist was using one of these cosmetic pads and Ms Kavafian had something similar, so maybe pads are finding favor again. But I noticed they were held on with rubber bands.

I could be wrong about this, but I think 40+ years ago, players were trying to avoid junking up their instruments with things like visible rubber bands. But now, such monstrosities are attached to these beautiful objects that a simple rubber band seems almost attractive by comparison.

For those who haven't used a pad like this, the idea is this: They provide little in height, but because they are rough they provide a grip that keeps the violin or viola in place on the shoulder, because they tend to drift or rotate to the right.

Will

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I've seen a small round, flat sponge, attached with (for sure, in one case, and assumed, in another) rubber cement, used on some pretty good fiddles by professionals. Judging from others' responses above, it's more popular than I thought.

I too don't use a shoulder rest and find that a piece of leather suede draped over the shoulder helps keep the violin from slipping. I've often thought that if I played professionally, I'd have a piece of suede sewn onto the shoulder of the jacket(s) I play in, the same color as the jacket.

Another alternative to the rubber cement and sponge is used by a violist in the Boise Philharmonic. He has an aluminum flap, about a 5 inch long oval, attached to the bottom bracket of his chin rest (squeezed in between the bracket and edge of viola back). The flap is coated with material soft enough not to mar the fiddle and has a texture to avoid slipping, but is of no appreciable thickness. So, he maintains that "no shoulder rest" feel while having a secure hold.

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In my old guitar repairing days we used rubber cement thinner, or Bestine, to clean junked up lacquer finishes without damaging the finish. Of course nitocellulose is not violin varnish, and later we were informed that rubber cement thinner had carcinogens in it. So if the thinner in rubber cement is a baddie, why would you want whats left under your chin? Just a thought.

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Someone has just come out with shoulder rests for kids held on with something like post-it-note glue. I got a flyer pushing them for Christmas... now if I can remember who sent it...

I'd rather go with a manufactured item like this, than to use rubber cement, because I assume they did SOME sort of testing. Still, they are probably meant for impervious laquer-finish kid's violins, and I would be wary of using them on a good instrument.

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I wouldn't trust any company to do homework concerning consumer safety. China ships so much lead to the US that it isn't funny. Any kind of adhesive or sticky substance on a violins varnish is an obvious no-no. In this case the rubber cement is used to create a thin dry grippy coating for friction on a foam pad (not sticking to the instrument)? Why not use a bit of rubber shelf paper, or anti-skid sheet, glued to a foam pad instead? Even so, might not be a good idea.

If you want to use a post-it rest on a cheap student violin, that seems fine, but really?

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thanks for all the replies...after reading this I'll stick to a rubber band...I liked the idea of it though...I don't mind the junking up look of a rubber band, but the rubber cement seemed a little easier...one less step...trying to uncomplicate things....but whenever I do that it seems to become more complicated...why is that?

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Will rubber cement hurt the varnish of a violin? I am playing without a shoulder rest and have used a chamois cloth to help keep the fiddle from slipping around. Recently a friend showed me her trick...apply rubber cement on a cosmetic sponge and let it dry. The sponge then can be placed on the back of the violin and removed at will. I've tried this on a lesser quality violin and it looks like there are no adverse effects.

What do you think?

thanks

3M's Photomount spray adhesive is formulated to be benign to surfaces. You could try spraying a very small amount on the chamois and let it dry thoroughly. As another post says, it's the carrier solvent that can do the most damage. Another thought would be to try something like Cramer's Tuf-Skin which is sprayed on skin before taping. It's based on rosin so it wouldn't be much worse than rosin dust on the finish. On the other hand, rosin is anything but benign with varnish and the contact cement is probably a safer bet.

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In the '60's and 70's this practice was a fad even in some major orchestras and was used on some very fine instruments. I used it with no problem. But some people did have damage to their instruments. Interestingly enough, none of the damaged violins I saw were the best ones. There were three factors, I think, that caused problems. Of course some violins had a less durable varnish, and some violinists didn't let the rubber cement dry and cure first. But the people who had the biggest problem seemed to be those who would take the pad off every time they put the violin away. I, and others, left the pad on all the time, just taking it off when necessary. It might be that some used too much cement, too. It doesn't take too much to hold the pad.

Here's the thing, or at least something... When problems occur at a low rate, and with the many varied varnishes, how does one sort out what the problem actually is? Could be the cement; Might be that the cement wasn't properly cured; Could be that the player sweats and gunk gets caught in and under the pad; Could be that a specific violin needed cleaning and the pad pushed rosin into the finish; Could be some sort of heat or friction from the body/clothing/pad... or... drum roll... It might even be the chemical makeup (excuse the pun) inherent in the pad itself. :)

I don't recommend the use of rubber cement, 'cause I just don't know what the long term effects are... but it may turnout that it's better than other alternatives (including rubber bands) for some varnishes... or not.

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Maybe you'd like a Playonair that's not been filled up with much air? Or, you could use the elastic and mounting hooks of the Playonair, and glue/attach your cosmetic sponge to the elastic. The hooks are a bit less obtrusive than a rubberband.

ALB

by less obtrusive are you meaning aesthetically or phisycally?

I had tried a playonair several years ago and for me it was more like getthedamnedthingtostayonyerviolinair...

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If the solvent in the contact cement is totally dry and none is left in the dry glue, you will not get damage from the inert dry glue skin, ie. solvent damage, BUT contact cement can act just like tape. If put on a delicate varnish it can peel it off, if put on a decent varnish and left on too long it could peel it off. I would call it little dicey particularly if a nicer instrument. IMO

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