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Boxwood fittings discoloring (darkening)


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Hello MN!

i have a violin with boxwood fittings.  I have noticed that the chinrest is noticeably darker/redder, as is the tailpiece portion where my beard touches it.  Seven months into owning this violin, all the boxwood that comes in contact with my skin is much darker than it used to be.  The tailpiece by the strings is much lighter, as is the underside of the chinrest.  The pegs, which I replaced with Wittner Finetunes, serve as a “color control”.  I’ve looked at photos of my instrument when it was new and it’s not my imagination.  I guess the boxwood is absorbing sweat and oil.

I was curious if this is common and if there is a way to clean the boxwood?  I love this violin and I have no intention of changing the fittings.  I now use a cloth to protect my skin and the boxwood from each other.  I can live with the discoloration, although I do miss that beautiful boxwood color.  


I’m attaching a photo for reference.  You can see the original color at the top of the tailpiece.  


Edited by dpappas
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Boxwood fittings are dyed or stained with an assortment of chemicals to produce the color you see. Naturally, boxwood has more of an ivory color. The stains used don’t necessarily seal the wood, so oils, sweat, and dirt can penetrate and cause the discoloration you’re seeing. There are several varieties of boxwood, Chinese being the kind that is most often found in fittings these days. Chinese boxwood is much softer than the other varieties, and it soaks up stains and dyes more easily as a result. It may or may not be possible to remove some of the discoloration, but you would risk making the color uneven.

I’d suggest either just using the fittings and not worrying too much about the discoloration or coating them with something that will seal them. I’ve seen a few sets that were French polished or sprayed with a lacquer. 

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