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reedman

renaissance micro-crystalline wax

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There was quite a discussion back in 2004 regarding this, and a number of luthiers were going to obtain some of this wax and try it out. Does anyone have an update on its use, pro and con? I am not interested in it strictly as a polish, but rather to protect the varnish from wear from perspiration--especially on the upper rib from the left hand. We have had a clear film on this area on 1 instrument in particular, and after a few years, that needs to be replaced. We have some nice instruments in the family, and I would prefer that they stay that way for future players also.

 

On a side note, I have used it for a number of years to protect the finish of my Heckel bassoon, especially on the bell and around the finger holes. The finish around the finger holes are very prone to wear. I started too late to protect this varnish area from damage, but use of Renaissance does seem to have stopped it from progressing any further.

 

Thanks.

Jim

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Hi Reedman,

Ren wax is probably in the arsenal of most restorers. And, like most things violin it has it's fans and it's detractors. Some don't like the gloss, some have other reasons. In my experience, I've used it with success with players who sweat excessively, or whose breath and saliva has an almost corrosive effect on varnish. It can work ok as a protective coating on the treble bout for some.... However (also in my experiencd) if they are really eating away at the varnish on the rib, there is no substitute for properly installed plastic shield.

Jerry

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 I am not interested in it strictly as a polish, but rather to protect the varnish from wear from perspiration--especially on the upper rib from the left hand. We have had a clear film on this area on 1 instrument in particular, and after a few years, that needs to be replaced.

 

 

 In my experience, I've used it with success with players who sweat excessively, or whose breath and saliva has an almost corrosive effect on varnish. It can work ok as a protective coating on the treble bout for some.... However (also in my experiencd) if they are really eating away at the varnish on the rib, there is no substitute for properly installed plastic shield.

 

 

From Jerry's post, it sounds like Ren Wax could serve as an alternative to the plastic shield on the upper treble rib, if it could be applied properly (which I gather means sparingly in a limited area) more often than the once or twice a year that a restorer could get around to it.

 

I wonder how restorers would feel about showing a player who might want protection from sweat in various places on the fiddle (upper treble rib, lower rib near bottom block, lower bout area of bass side of the fiddle back for women performing with bare shoulders and no shoulder rest) how to apply the wax properly.  Do you restorers feel that trusting the player to do that would be a good idea?  If the player overdoes the application (too much over too large an area), is there permanent harm?  Can the excess be removed?

 

How do you restorers feel about the player using Ren Wax on a regular basis as an alternative to plastic shields if trained to apply it properly and only when needed?  (I'll reveal a hope that a player can be trained to use Ren Wax properly, but, as a player, I wouldn't start doing that, if restorers feel the dangers are greater than the possible benefits.)

 

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Ski,

I wouldn't feel comfortable with players applying it. If there is an opening for it to get into (crack, open seam), it could really make things worse. Plastic shields work really well and if put on right are very reversible.

Jerry

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Ski,

I wouldn't feel comfortable with players applying it. If there is an opening for it to get into (crack, open seam), it could really make things worse. Plastic shields work really well and if put on right are very reversible.

Jerry

 Thanks, Jerry.  You've kept me from creating a problem.

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Other than applying it incorrectly and it getting into open seams or the such, has anyone encountered any problems in actually using in on a continuing basis?

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I've used it several times before and found that it worked well. The instructions claim it dries and makes a polymer bond immediately, but it seems like it takes a couple minutes to dry and needs to be buffed out thoroughly. I like that it can be cleaned up with mineral spirits. It does a great job preserving metal as well. 

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Is it possible for a varnish that contains beeswax to provide the same protection?  I recall a recipe that calls for beeswax and mastic, probably among other things.  There may well be a host of other reasons for not using beeswax as an element in varnish.  But it seems as though it would at least provide some protection against the various materials that issue from the human body.

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Because I found conflicting information on numerous on-line sources, I submitted a few questions to the company that makes Renaissance--Picreator Enterprises Ltd in London. The questions included whether the wax yellowed as regular micro-crystalline tends to do, whether adding a layer of fresh wax removes the previous layer, and how it is removed. For your reference, their response is below:

 

"Renaissance wax does not yellow with age. It remains glass-clear and produces a soft-sheen rather than a high gloss on the surface it is applied to, bringing out the natural beauty of that surface. It should be applied sparingly and in thin coats. 1-2 coats applied on an interior surface and 2-3 coats on an exterior application (e.g. a statue outside). If the violin is a collector's item that is not being used then 1-2 coats will be adequate whilst extra coats are advisable on an item being handled and used. Applying subsequent layers does not remove the previous layer of wax. We have a long standing association with the British Violin Makers Association and the wax is used by many violin-makers and restorers around the world. You can easily remove the wax with WHITE SPIRIT which is the solvent used to manufacture the wax."

 

So I think we will probably have the old plastic shield removed, clean the rib, use Renaissance, and perhaps try the plastic shield again over that.

 

Jim

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According to the Wikipedia article, "white spirit" is most commonly called "paint thinner" in the US. My instincts are telling me that it would be reckless to assume that would always be safe to use on any violin finish.

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So I think we will probably have the old plastic shield removed, clean the rib, use Renaissance, and perhaps try the plastic shield again over that.

 

Jim

 

I don't understand why one would put on Ren Wax if one were willing to use the plastic shield again.   The Ren Wax on that upper treble rib seems unnecessary if the plastic shield will be put back on.

 

Also, I would assume that the presence of Ren Wax would interfere with the plastic shield sticking to the wood;  the wax would make the shield less effective, I would think.   But I'm just an amateur player, not a restorer.

 

I share Mark Bouquet's concern about harming the varnish by using a "white spirit" to remove the wax, but again I'm no restorer.

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According to the Wikipedia article, "white spirit" is most commonly called "paint thinner" in the US. My instincts are telling me that it would be reckless to assume that would always be safe to use on any violin finish.

 

This can be very confusing, especially when "white spirit" and "white gas" are referred to. The key is in the table in Wikipedia where naphtha is mentioned in the "Chemical Number" table.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_spirit

 

The definition of naphtha provides some of the confusion - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naphtha%C2'> By the way "Stoddard Solvent" is another name for Varsol.

 

What most people think of as naphtha in North America is also called white gas or Coleman Fuel. It is also a major part of 'Zippo' lighter fluid.  It is lighter than "white spirits" which is in the kerosene family.  The reason I mention this is because this can be a less aggressive solvent on some surfaces.

 

It is safe to say that most paint thinner you buy is from a petroleum mineral source whereas turpentine is from a plant/vegetable source.

 

Wikipedia - "Mineral spirits are an inexpensive petroleum based replacement for the vegetable-basedturpentine. It is commonly used as a paint thinner for oil-based paint and cleaning brushes, and as an organic solvent in other applications. Mineral turpentine is chemically very different from turpentine, which mainly consists of pinene, and it has inferior solvent properties. Artists use mineral spirits as an alternative to turpentine since it is less flammable and less toxic. Because of interactions with pigments, artists require a higher grade of mineral spirits than many industrial users, including the complete absence of residual sulfur."

 

So "Mineral turpentine" or "white spirits" isn't turpentine.

 

Regardless of any of this - they aren't the same but they are all solvents and need to be used very carefully on any finish.

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So I think we will probably have the old plastic shield removed, clean the rib, use Renaissance, and perhaps try the plastic shield again over that.

 

Jim

 

That is how I install plastic shields. First, I make sure the area is as clean as possible and is at the bare minimum sealed and or any retouching done, then I apply ren wax, and finally the shield.  I find the ren wax helps the shield release very easily if required.  Incidentally, if you're concerned about the gloss of a plastic shield, with some searching you can find a variety of adhesive backed plastics which are more matte than others.  Most of them are in the form of shelf liners, I use Duck brand myself. In the pic below I had to turn the instrument in order for the light to hit the shield so it would show up easy in the photograph. 

 

post-24735-0-22269900-1423608760_thumb.jpg

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White Spirits=Mineral Spirits (per the Renaissance folks). Thanks Jerry. We will probably let the maker do this since he is close to us, he can clean up what mess is there right now with the adhesive goo, and if we want to remove the wax anytime (or if HE does), he knows his varnish and whether Mineral Spirits are a problem. Steven--I want the wax in addition to the plastic because the plastic was not adequate. If and when the plastic breaks down again, I want a controlled problem. This instrument has a long life ahead of it, and we are simply the current caretakers.

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White Spirits=Mineral Spirits (per the Renaissance folks). Thanks Jerry. We will probably let the maker do this since he is close to us, he can clean up what mess is there right now with the adhesive goo, and if we want to remove the wax anytime (or if HE does), he knows his varnish and whether Mineral Spirits are a problem. Steven--I want the wax in addition to the plastic because the plastic was not adequate. If and when the plastic breaks down again, I want a controlled problem. This instrument has a long life ahead of it, and we are simply the current caretakers.

 

It sounds like you have the maker of the instrument working on this.  That's reassuring.  I was somewhat concerned that this was a do it yourself project.

 

In a post sometime back, Bruce Carlson noted that it's not a good idea to try to touch-up every new point of wear on a new instrument in an effort to keep it in pristine condition.  The results of continual touch-up can be a splotchy patchwork appearance.  There's virtue in letting a varnish age naturally, showing some wear along the way.  Makers, calling it antiquing, even charge extra for imitating that kind of natural wear on their new instruments.

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In a post sometime back, Bruce Carlson noted that it's not a good idea to try to touch-up every new point of wear on a new instrument in an effort to keep it in pristine condition.  The results of continual touch-up can be a splotchy patchwork appearance.  There's virtue in letting a varnish age naturally, showing some wear along the way.  Makers, calling it antiquing, even charge extra for imitating that kind of natural wear on their new instruments.

This is a very good point. It's always tricky to judge how far to go in retouching an instrument. For those who really require the shield, if nothing is done they start to damage wood. I like to think of intervention in this case as "stopping the antiquing clock," or at least slowing it down.

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I feel like Ren Wax is fairly safe. I think it would be possible for a player to apply it just fine. You might want to stop in to your luthier first so they can tell you if there is going to be some sort of issue. It's still always good to test a small spot on the instrument first to see if there is a problem.

Some players are very astute and good at taking care of their instruments so they can handle a little maintenance personally. on a side note, I have been using Old Wood Italian Cream for putting on a protective layer. It works a little like Ren Wax but I think it is even easier to apply.

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I feel like Ren Wax is fairly safe. I think it would be possible for a player to apply it just fine. You might want to stop in to your luthier first so they can tell you if there is going to be some sort of issue.

You have more faith in players than I do, my friend!

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Jerry, on the rib protector note, I recently had an old instrument come in that the player has been playing like crazy. It had a rib protector on it already but was a little too narrow. The back edge overhang was worn all the way to the rib and a little past in one spot. I replaced the rib protector but cut out a little spot to fold over the back edge. Have you or anybody else done this before? When I folded it over there were a couple of small creases that I could feel with my left hand when playing. It would annoy me, but the player didn't mind, but I thought it would be better to have it smooth.

I'm wondering if there is a better way to address this? It's a Gigli so it's worth keeping the edge intact for as long as possible.

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You have more faith in players than I do, my friend!

I think it depends entirely on the player. Some should not mess with their instrument, but others I think are capable. I can usually size them up quickly though and gently suggest they bring the instrument in rather than try and mess with it.

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I've not cut the rib protector to fold over, but something like uline 471 tape in clear would probably excel at this - it's the tape you see on C bouts. Very flexible and it can conform to edges. Omaha (skywalker) and I were just discussing that at lunch. For your fiddle with a lot of missing edge, your solution might have been the best thing.

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I think it depends entirely on the player. Some should not mess with their instrument, but others I think are capable. I can usually size them up quickly though and gently suggest they bring the instrument in rather than try and mess with it.

You make a very good point. I've just been burnt a lot. I'm stoked if I can get an owner to keep their bridge straight and wipe the instrument off... I dream of them maintaining proper humidity.

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The stuff I have been using is Tartan 3765. It's super thin and wide enough for cello. The only bad thing about it is that you have to buy 6 rolls minimum. The fold over is fine, but the creases that form when it rolls over to the back are what I want to avoid. I wonder if heating it with a hairdryer would make it shrink up like shrink wrap? Thinking out loud here.

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