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crowandcactus

German Guanerius copy, info / varnish help

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Just an old factory instrument, looking for a very ballpark price range (my guess 4-600? with set up?), and how to address the numbskull shellacking job. Can it be steamed or blistered loose by chance? In places where it’s lifting naturally it isn’t adhering to the (I assume) original varnish. The varnish underneath is pretty handsome and while perhaps a little over the top antiqued would be a better fit both tonally and visually without the clear coat. Any thoughts appreciated!

Pictures are slightly less thorough than they could be because I think this piece will be easily recognized. Has a very attractive sound! Pic with pen shows where I managed to separate a small area of the clear coat. 

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Just a shot in the dark - Saxon/Schönbach circa 1900?  At least it doesn't seem to be damaged, but hardly worth the effort of trying to restore the original finish I'd say. At online auctions I've bought similar ones in good condition (one with a Jan Basta label) for £40-80, just for the experience. I set them up, tried to convince myself they sounded good and after a few months sold them on again through a different auction house at a very small profit. I think the crucial thought-experiment is to ask, why would anyone want to play this violin in preference to a brand new one from Yitamusic?

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8 hours ago, Wood Butcher said:

The very dark varnish could well be original.

 

If the dark varnish is an attempt at patina/antiquing/relicing would that color have been done last? If this was done with spirit varnish I wonder if it could be removed or at least significantly lightened just with alcohol. The only instrument I have refinished was a student cello with spirit varnish and I got most of the color off by wiping down with alcohol on a scotchbrite type pad. 

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12 hours ago, Wood Butcher said:

The very dark varnish could well be original.

 

Im sure it is, I recently saw another identical fiddle with just the dark finish. The clear coat is obviously a previous owner’s attempt at adding a protective finish (a third fiddle was for sale with these two, an A. Shroetter with its finish completely stripped which I passed on, but clearly the owner had a thing for tinkering with his instruments—bless his soul). It’s hard to see but the clear finish is definitely an after-sale addition. I’ll have to try the alcohol approach—denatured I think? The lower varnish appears oil but I could be off base. Will experiment. Only the pretty nice flaming is almost invisible either way so ??? Got for 20 bucks so I can’t imagine a loss.

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If you remove this, then you risk destroying the antique value of your violin. There was a time when this very dark finish was popular. It isn’t a top coat that you can wash off, that is the colour of the varnish.

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Sorry for the staggered replies, I’m too new to post directly. The dark coat is beneath a clear coat, which is separating in places. I don’t think the clear coat is original and I’d definitely like to keep the dark varnish in good shape. Does denatured alcohol ruin oil varnish (if that’s indeed what the darker stuff is)?

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Alcohol is not good news for any varnishes, it will soften them very quickly, and then burn through.

As your violin is a standard type of workshop instrument, it is unlikely to have an oil varnish. I expect the varnish will be spirit based.

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