Rue

Cleaning your violin

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34 minutes ago, Conor Russell said:

I'd say liquid  paraffin  is to be had widely in Florid a.  The place is coming down with old people.

[Passes "Mineral Oil" on the shelves, remembers Conor's cheeky comment, and laughs, then kicks her gators into a trot towards the produce aisle, as ordinary mortals scatter out of their way, and Agents Mulder and Scully (in town for the day investigating something even more peculiar) decide that the less weird s*** they notice, the less paperwork they have to file.] :P

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Mat Roop   
On 3/22/2017 at 2:13 PM, jacobsaunders said:

One should not forget, that water is also a solvent, so you should not splash around with impunity!
A while ago, I posted my own violin cleaner/polish, which you can make yourself, rather than buying a bottle of something where you have no idea what is in it. The most expensive part is the bottle!

 

https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/332293-is-this-fiddle-too-nice-for-amateur-repair-work/&do=findComment&comment=669974

 

 

Jacob.... your recipe calls for paraffin oil which I suspect is non drying. Are you not concerned with the oil soaking into the wood especially if there are small cracks and making future glueing repairs a problem? 

Here is another old violin polish recipe ... not sure where I got it ( possibly Harry Wake)... but it also contains a non drying oil... mineral oil. I made some 20 years ago, worked nice but found that it loses its shine in a few days or weeks. I don't use it because of the mineral oil content.

2 oz light mineral oil

2 oz raw linseed oil

2 oz turpentine

4 oz alcohol

4 oz water

 Thoughts? ... cheers, Mat

 

 

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1 hour ago, Mat Roop said:

worked nice but found that it loses its shine in a few days or weeks.

I'd say that the reason for the mentioned effect is the raw linseed oil, which can attract the particles of dirt during the process of its slow curing. Regarding the mineral oil, it has its role in the French polishing procedure as well. My PERSONAL point of view is that any polishing procedure has to be perform a few days after all the procedures dealing with repairs, cracks gluing, gap filling, touch-ups etc.

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3 hours ago, Mat Roop said:

Jacob.... your recipe calls for paraffin oil which I suspect is non drying. Are you not concerned with the oil soaking into the wood especially if there are small cracks and making future glueing repairs a problem? 

 

 

 

No, I have no concerns

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While I'm a little more in favor of drying oils, over non-drying oils in spiffing-up products, I've also spent a lot of time removing accumulations of "Hill polish" (made with a drying oil). In a nutshell, it will remain liquid long enough to trap some dirt, rosin etc. before it hardens into a sort of varnish-like film. How badly do you want to turn your violin into an air filter?

With something which remains liquid indefinitely, other problems crop up, like the ability over time to saturate almost any substance.

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caerolle   
4 hours ago, David Burgess said:

While I'm a little more in favor of drying oils, over non-drying oils in spiffing-up products, I've also spent a lot of time removing accumulations of "Hill polish" (made with a drying oil). In a nutshell, it will remain liquid long enough to trap some dirt, rosin etc. before it hardens into a sort of varnish-like film. How badly do you want to turn your violin into an air filter?

With something which remains liquid indefinitely, other problems crop up, like the ability over time to saturate almost any substance.

Funny, was just going to ask, "How about this stuff: Hill Violin Preparation Cleaner and Polish," when I got to the end of the thread.

Guess I don't need to do that now...

I wipe my violin off according to the good (bad?) perfectionist I am, but I have used the Hill's stuff sparing every few months on a violin before. A ready-made solution seems more facile than traveling to England to get ingredients for a home-made one ('the most expensive part is the airfare, or perhaps the international hazardous-material shipping fees").

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On 3/22/2017 at 10:53 AM, Rue said:

Thanks.  That's the kind of information I thought would be of value to have all in one spot.

Turpentine on the entire body?  

I would never use Turpentine.  That will ruin the finish.  

 

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On 3/24/2017 at 1:44 PM, jacobsaunders said:

What do you do in America if you need medication? Look on eBay?

Now, that right there is funny! LOL

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19 hours ago, Mat Roop said:

Ok... so what is the downside of using a wax such as this.... apparently used on violins by experts...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance_Wax

I have tried it but it is real slippery under the bridge:) ... does a nice job though.

So don't put it under the bridge. :P  I use it, not just for violins, but for a variety of antiques and artifacts, and haven't had any problems. :)

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rossini   

I remember my old violin teacher was using alcohol for cleaning and spitting at violin the same time while he was cleaning it. and he keep repeating stop when violin start screaming. which he meant screeching sound while dry rubbing cloth^_^  NOTE you need to be a good spitter!  

as jacob point out you need alcohol and use water and oily stuff to confuse alcohol  . baby oil would work if add a bit water . . but big factor  for  CLEANING IS PATIENT AND TIME+ right method of applying cleaner

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Televet   

As a moderately bilingual speaker of English and American, can confirm that what Brits call Liquid Paraffin is called Mineral Oil in both Murica and Canadia. Curiously, Lamp Oil (Murica and Canadia) is called Paraffin in Britain. Jacob may remember the Esso Blue advertisements on his 405 lines television appliance from his youth.

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GeorgeH   

This violin was about as filthy a violin as I have ever cleaned. It was grimy everywhere, including under the copious amounts of rosin dust. It came out nicely though.

before_after.jpg

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I had (luckily a cheaper) violin I use as my outdoor and travel fiddle at my lucal luthier for general overworking, mainly because the strings digged that far into the fingerboard it was a plane when the strings were pushed down (it was as clean is it could be before btw). She "cleaned" it with something oily (by the smell I guess viol), I had to polish it of for hours until I could touch it again without leaving marks on it....

On a very very dirty cheap fiddle I once used this stuff: luthier.jpg

The fiddle got clean, but I think I took of half the varnish with it xD

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On 3/22/2017 at 0:58 PM, Rue said:

I know we've covered this in bits and pieces...but it keeps cropping up.

Given how many (re: endless) varnishes there are out there (alchemy anyone?) how do we know what cleaning process/es is going to be safe for that particular instrument and NOT cause some bizzarre chemical reaction or other damage?

I have only ever used a damp cloth (just damp enough to move the dirt, then I dry immediately if necessary) and a bit of spit on tough spots.  I haven't ever tried a chemical because of potential issues.  So when I see recommendations of products such as Simple Green, I wonder how 'safe' this is?  How do you know?  Do you want to risk it?  When is water and spit not enough?

I've been doing this for 45 years...never needed more.  But I can see tougher cleaning approaches might need to be taken in some cases...or not?

 

On 3/22/2017 at 1:14 PM, Rue said:

Yes.  For normal use by a conscientious player.  I was referring more to violins that are being rehabbed or restored, the ones that are actually dirty.

I'm going back to what I believe was the intent of this thread.  It seems to have morphed into polishing in addition to cleaning... and I "polish" as little as possible, though I do employ a couple different, easily removable, waxes for certain problem areas.  I know we've been there before on this board, but since a sensible plan for any significant repair usually starts with cleaning, it's probably worth another round.

Any cleaning method should be tested on the varnish in an inconspicuous area.  Some emulsion varnishes are affected by water (rare, but it does occur), and retouching may, or may not, react in a similar way as the original varnish.  I start with the most "inert" solvent (a cloth dampened with distilled water) and work "up".  I usually don't need to go too far "up".

Spit: It works very well for some types of cleaning.  Artificial forms are available in bottle form. Again, rinse with a cloth dampened with distilled water.

Again, test first, but Vulpex is relatively safe soap that was developed for parchment that has been around since the '70s. It is usually as far as needed for even the most grimy instruments, even with rosin buildup. We've used it extensively in Oberlin, and mixed appropriately, it's effective in cleaning most varnish surface.  It can be mixed with water or Stoddard solvent (DO NOT USE "STRAIGHT"!) at 7 to 10:1 (water:soap) or 10 to 20:1 (solvent:soap). Test first and adjust concentration as needed. I find it's more aggressive mixed with water, so I usually use it with Stoddard. Use sparingly and carefully check that the varnish surface doesn't go "tacky".  Rinse sparingly with a cloth dampened with distilled water to return the ph to neutral.

There are a few cases when heavier artillery must be brought in, but I think I'll avoid "going there" in this thread.

I've heard tell of other substances/products being used as initial (low impact) cleaners, like Simple Green, but I am generally working with varnish that is probably more on the delicate side, so I stick to materials that I've learned to handle and predict... that I know leave an inert surface after cleaning (and good for receiving touch up varnish, etc.).

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GeorgeH   

I never polish. I only clean. Test first always. Unfortunately, I have never found water to be effective in cleaning off old rosin and grime. The last "Before and After" picture I showed here was a violin that had a layer of dirt over the entire top, not just where the rosin was. It was remarkable how much grime came off, even on the ribs. The varnish is fine.

I don't get using spit at all. It has enzymes in it for breaking down carbohydrates into simple sugars - is that what is doing the cleaning? Or what is it in spit that people think makes it work?

And, yes, Test Always.

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11 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

I don't get using spit at all. It has enzymes in it for breaking down carbohydrates into simple sugars - is that what is doing the cleaning? Or what is it in spit that people think makes it work?

 

The enzymes.  That's what is reproduced in the artificial spit.

You're correct.  Water alone will usually not significantly remove rosin buildup, but it does well for dirt... allowing one to concentrate on the rosin itself on the next rung or two up the ladder.

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