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21GibsonA

Cleaning grime from old top

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Howdy.  Recently restored an old Hopf violin that a woman found in her father’s barn. The top had partially come off, the fingerboard was more worn than anything I have seen before, the neck was loose, and I even found a wasp nest inside of it.  I did all the work and got it back into great playing condition.  Now I have a question regarding the top.  There are some dirt/water spots that didn’t come off with water. Should I leave them, or try something stronger? How do I tell if I am removing varnish when I lightly scrub with a moist cloth? I do see grey dirt on the cloth, but sometimes also see a little brown or yellowish tiny. Is that varnish coming off?  Also, portions of the top still have varnish, but other portions (especially in the area of the f holes) it is so worn that I am assuming the varnish is either gone, or minimal.  Any steps I should take to add a layer of protection to the portions that no longer look to have nice, clean varnish. I want to maintain the originality, but also want to protect the wood.  I know I could take it to a professional and have it done, but I find joy in working on these myself.  

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Edited by 21GibsonA

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I use Simple Green, water, and micro-fiber cloths. I have never had a problem after using it to clean dozens of filthy and encrusted violins, but one MNer reported a problem with a Roth violin, so test always Test first.

 

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The. Actually sounds pretty good. I am a novice (have built a couple mandolins and guitars).  Still trying to learn the ropes.  First time I set it up it had a very harsh tone.  I played around with the soundpost and have gotten it to calm down a lot.  Still looking to remove some of the harshness (next step is trying different strings). Any suggestions on mellow strings?  I read somewhere that the D’adarrio Pro Arte strings are pretty mellow. 

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8 hours ago, Rue said:

No idea.  But it looks good!  How does it sound? :)

Certainly better with a thinner bridge :ph34r:

As for cleaning further, you might consider to 'like' it's current appearance with a bit of due patina.

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8 hours ago, Rue said:

No idea.  But it looks good!  How does it sound? :)

Yup.  Agreed.   Lovely rosewood chin rest, too.  Please show us the pegs (and scroll). :)

53 minutes ago, Guido said:

Certainly better with a thinner bridge :ph34r:

As for cleaning further, you might consider to 'like' it's current appearance with a bit of due patina.

Ditto here too.  With regards to bridge cutting, there's plenty of threads and web links to be found on MN. 

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From what I see from the corners, f holes positions, etc, it looks like a "naive violin", that is, made by a person without training.

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Manfio, when you say Patina, are you referring to the darker brown buildups (when related to a violin)?  I have no problem with patina. Just trying to get this thing in tip-top condition.  Also, interesting comments about the violin build (naive violin).  Yes, it does not have any corner blocks, and the neck block wasn't a traditional neck block. There were two slots cut into the sides of the neck block, and the ribs were inserted into the two slots.  I am pretty sure they werent originally glued in there, just placed in (then the top and back were glued on, holding them in place).  When i got the instrument, the neck had failed (i tried applying tension (ie. strings), and the entire neck would move a few mm)). It is stamped as Hopf, but as we all know, the Hopfs were almost as plentiful as the Brady Bunch! 

Guido and Violadamore.  Thanks for the suggestion on the bridge. I'll admit. I have some instruments that have ALL of their work done by luthiers, and others that i try out myself. When i got this instrument it was in such poor shape, and i knew it wasn't worth thousands, so i decided to do the work myself.  I did the neck reset, reglued parts of the top that had separated, installed a new fingerboard, installed a new sound post, tuners (ended up installing perfection geared tuners) (holes were reamed out pretty bad, etc).  It didnt have a bridge, so i installed a new one.  I got a curve that i was comfortable with, but havent yet gotten to thinning it (thanks for the suggestion.  It is on my list of things to do).    The tailpiece is not original (did not have one either).  The woman found the violin in her dad's barn (and gave it to me, skeptical that i could make it play again).   I have attached a few images (note, in the image i had a substitute chinrest, tuners, and bridge.  Different from what i have now).  Also check out the fingerboard.  Looks like whomoever played it had serious fingernails.  Also, hard to see in this image, but the tuners that came with it were definitely hand carved (very rudimentary).  They were pretty worn out, and it only came with two of them. 

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