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I have heard that the color of varnish can influence the tone of the cello. Is this true and what varnishes produce what tone qualities?

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Abraham Lincoln once said "Don't believe everything that you see on the internet".

" I have heard that the color of varnish can influence the tone of the cello."

That's the silliest thing that I have heard in quite a while. You can have dark sounding instruments, and bright sounding instruments, but that's determined by the Wattage of the bulb inside. LED instruments are brighter for a given Wattage.

 

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No, I don't think so.

Having said that, adding pigments to varnish, even in small amounts, can change it greatly. I find that unpigmented varnish is much harder and less soluble. So a given varnish, with or without colour might alter the sound somewhat.

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Colour is important on a big instrument like a cello. Evidence indicates that sight dominates sound in judging music competitions http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23717228 .  What you see affects the way the brain constructs sound, (Google the McGurk effect if you don't believe it). The look of your food affects what you taste, and the best cooks know that. The luthiers may try to keep the effect of appearance on the sound of an instrument as one of their trade secrets, yet the best ones go to considerable trouble to give their instruments pleasing colour and finish. Go figure ;-)

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yes but only if you believe in the homeopathic theory of violin tone adjustment.   You can also attach a 1mm square of sand paper to the end of a coat hanger insert it in the F hole and sand away 3 molecules of cellulose from the upper right bout and it will greatly improve the tone.   Don't forget micro adjustments to the scroll eyes also,  they have to be tuned to the fingerboard for the best sound.  

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I should have added to my previous post that green varnished instruments are really good for Irish music. Especially on St. Patric's day, after a few beers!

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3 hours ago, ctanzio said:

Red lets the cello play faster. Well, I know it works for cars so why not cellos?

 

Even more so if you paint a couple white racing stripes on the belly.

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Sometime around two decades ago, colored lacquered saxophones began to enter the market. More than one professional sax player has told me quite insistently that the black ones sound darker. IMHO, they believe what they believe because of the familiar quirk of the human mind that causes unrelated phenomena to be conflated.

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I know it to be a fact that dark colored violins that I have tested, including mine, have a darker sound.

That has nothing to do with varnsish though.

This is one of the many wrong connections out there.

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34 minutes ago, Leo KUNG said:

" Sight over sound in the judgment of music performance " , Chia-Jung Tsay, PNAS 2013 September, 110 (36) 14580-14585.

http://www.pnas.org/content/110/36/14580

Thanks Leo. That is of high importance with evaluations, perhaps only second to the name of the maker, if the maker is someone like Stradivari or Guarneri.

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