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gabnash

Refinishing

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I recently bought a late 19th century factory made violin by Hopf that is in need of some TLC as a project suitable for a noob. The pegs, nut and tailpiece will need replacing, which shouldn’t be too tricky. However the varnish, particularly on the belly is badly worn in places. So what’s the best way to tackle this? Also the fingerboard has light streaks. What’s the best means of staining it uniformly black?

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I'll guess the consensus is to leave the varnish alone, just clean it up. As for the Fingerboard, I have used: Fiebing's USMC Black Leather Dye. I have no idea what others use.

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There are some very good lessons to be learned in the restoration of the existing varnish.  Revarnishing is a very bad idea and not considered ethically responsible, regardless of who owns the instrument.

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One trick with trade violins, which are usually heavily coated with a spirit varnish, is to touch it up with pure alcohol, using it to spread the existing varnish around with a small brush. :)

A lot of people starting out have this idea that a violin is always supposed to look new and shiny.  Particularly on antiques like yours, that simply isn't true.  IMHO, make sure that any bare wood exposed by varnish wear is sealed, and don't worry about it otherwise.

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What are the options for restoring the existing varnish? Violadamore has suggested alcohol and small brush - are there any others?

I don’t believe this instrument to be of any value so I am not too worried about experimenting with it. 

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