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Need help on my cello


SuganthCello
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Hi,

 

My 1924 Markneukirchen German Cello has multiple areas where the varnish has been peeled off and wood is exposed. Do I need to revarnish the instrument ? I read that you should never revarnish an antique cello but went to a dealer and he said its cosmetically damaged and asked me to upgrade. The cello plays well and has no cracks or dents. Pictures attached

 

Please advise as I plan to upgrade in a few years and do not want a cello that may have no buyers

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8 hours ago, SuganthCello said:

I read that you should never revarnish an antique cello but went to a dealer and he said its cosmetically damaged and asked me to upgrade

I'm rather assuming that he was thinking of touching up than stripping and revarnishing the complete cello. This operation would be much more costy than such a cello is worth even in the best condition.

I don't think that there's bare wood, it looks more like the coloured layer has peeled off from the yellowish shellac ground which is usual to such instruments. So the damage is cosmetically but not functionally, because the wood is still protected. I would leave it as it is, you will hardly get back the costs of any varnish action when selling it. Stripping and revarnishing it would mean turning it from low value to no value.

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13 hours ago, SuganthCello said:

Hi,

My 1924 Markneukirchen German Cello has multiple areas where the varnish has been peeled off and wood is exposed. Do I need to revarnish the instrument ? I read that you should never revarnish an antique cello but went to a dealer and he said its cosmetically damaged and asked me to upgrade. The cello plays well and has no cracks or dents. Pictures attached

 

Please advise as I plan to upgrade in a few years and do not want a cello that may have no buyers.

If you are happy with the sound and playing qualities of your cello, my first recommendation would be to leave it alone. There's no  shortage of both dealers and makers who are all about hustling money.

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"Question for the pros here: would a coat of clear varnish or blonde shellack prevent further deterioration of the varnish?" 

This is often done, with the belief that it protects highly-used instruments from more rapid deterioration. I do not disagree with that notion. The way we address a violin which will always be kept in a museum environment can be quite different from the way we address an instrument which undergoes hours of daily use, while traveling between varying climates all over the world.

I would rather that judiciously applied non-original varnish take the brunt of the wear, than original varnish or wood.

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Non-rhetorical questions : given that the entire top and maybe 60 % of the back has been overlaid with darker, non-matching varnish anyway ("originality" hopelessly compromised), and that the whole thing's beyond unattractive (bordering on fugly), who would buy it on any consideration but sound/response ? And if that's the case, why not at least make it look presentable ?

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@A432, the darker varnish is the original varnish, not added later on. The lighter Areas are those where this varnish has splintered/crumbled off , revealing the Ground. The causes are insufficient ground/varnish adherence and a chippy varnish (probably too high resin to oil Ratio).

Edit note: I don't think it is that very ugly, I quite like the character it adds.

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20 minutes ago, A432 said:

Non-rhetorical questions : given that the entire top and maybe 60 % of the back has been overlaid with darker, non-matching varnish anyway ("originality" hopelessly compromised), and that the whole thing's beyond unattractive (bordering on fugly), who would buy it on any consideration but sound/response ? And if that's the case, why not at least make it look presentable ?

Many noteworthy historic objects are purchased for their potential investment value. I'll guess that fewer than half of the existing Strads are owned by full-time pro players. Some owners don't play at all.

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I agree that you have to weight the cost of a well-done restoration and what you can expect to get for the instrument as a sale or a trade-in.  Also agree that the wood looks to be protected by the ground.  If I were you, I would take it to a reputable restorer near you and see what they would recommend doing.  It's always a challenge here when all we have to go on is a photo whereas your restorer would have the instrument in front of them.

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Based on the limited available photographs, I would make sure that any bare wood was sealed and leave the rest alone. The enemy of good is better. It won't sound any better if the varnish is heavily retouched, plus someone with the abilities to make it look much better will not work cheaply.

If you were interested in selling the instrument, I do not think that you would recoup the cost of the retouch in the sale.

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That hinges on the assumption that the deal maker/breaker would be its "originality"  and not its appearance.

How easy is it to sell (no offense intended) an ugly 'cello when there is a lot of competition in its price range ? It would have to really excel its competition on sound-response.

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5 hours ago, A432 said:

How easy is it to sell (no offense intended) an ugly 'cello when there is a lot of competition in its price range ?

Your claim is wrong from the start. You can see easily that there are several posters in this thread not thinking that it's ugly (or any other old worn instrument) but quite attractive. So why are you insisting on this ridiculous assertion, assuming that you are the only person being able to make a valid judgement?

How much experience do you have in dealing with antique violins? How can you know what is easy to sell and what not? Around here are also many doing this since eons and knowing what they are talking about, but you do know better?

We all are watching your argue against what you think is "originality" since a while. To get some ground under the feet I'm highly recommending to buy a significant lot of old instruments, strip and revarnish them to your taste (or let it do), try to sell them and than tell us about the result of the experiment in a separate thread instead of hi jacking others for your agenda.

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