Sign in to follow this  
Peter White

How do dealers react to alcohol varnish

Recommended Posts

Hello:  I am sure this topic has been beat to death, but I’m not sure how to access older threads.

i have a question: I have many friends in Eastern Europe who use alcohol based varnish— various recipes.  Some spray, some brush. I have only ever used oil varnish which I have cooked. In various ways since 1978.  

I would like to know what violin dealers in the best or very good violin shops in the Western world think when they are presented with an alcohol based instrument, hand made by the maker? Are dealers put off by alcohol finishes or are they open to it?  I am talking about shops that we all know are exclusive, owned and operated by people who have a long history of dealing in Violins.  I know many shops are primarily interested in old Italian or French Violins. 

But I wonder what such dealers think about representing alcohol based varnishes? 

I spent my life as an academic so I’m just asking to see what others think about this question. Thanks for your input.  I appreciate it.  I’m a teacher so I like to know things.

Peter White 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As far as I remember, a dealer never asked me about what type of varnish I use. Provided it is a good varnish, there is no problem.

Many top makers don't disclosure if they use spirit or oil varnish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Peter White said:

How do dealers react to alcohol varnish?

I suppose it depends on how much they consume.  :ph34r::lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From my limited experience; dealers and auction houses won't frown upon or admonish (or, for that matter even notice) a well-applied spirit varnish, but most will shy away from any obvious spray jobs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There isn’t much issue with spirit varnish.  Dealers are more interested in the appearance and longevity of the varnish than its recipe. It’s often hard to tell which kind of varnish is on an instrument anyway, so it’s more about the skill of the luthier in application.

There are always discussions about which varnish is best for longevity or tone and which resins are best to enhance sound without hardening the wood, but there’s no definitive winner, and what ultimately matters more is consistency of results and adroitness in handling color to enhance the wood.

Two things that dealers hate: varnishes that are too chippy or never seem to dry enough.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

Two things that dealers hate: varnishes that are too chippy or never seem to dry enough.

Actually I didn’t know that dealers hate Strads chippy varnish ;) 

Joking aside, important point, especially in non-antiqued work. Stable varnish means less trouble for the dealer and the customer, and more trouble for the antiquing luthier.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dealers' preferences aside, if you stand behind your work (and don't want to spend all of your time living up to your guarantee!), then you are going to be sure your varnish holds up/ages well and polishes OK when recipes common in the industry are applied.  But then, this is coming from a violin making late bloomer unlikely to have to worry about dealers' preferences.  That said, there are one's customers to think of whose grandkids take grandpa's/ma's old fiddle to a shop to sell and sense things going south when the shop owner says, "What's a Cossmann Cooke?"  :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dealers in Japan simply put spirit varnish violins in a lower grade for a lower price. As a consequence now most foreign makers offering their work here use oil varnish. ;) 

But this aside, a well composed and applied spirit varnish is hardly discernible in the look from oil varnish. I remember having seen a fabulous copy by Joachim Schade (thinking for 30 minutes if I am holding a real thing in my hands) and then I was told that it was finished with spirit varnish.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did have a dealer who told me that if I wanted to get "real money" for my instruments that I needed to use oil varnish, but sine the instrument that he was looking at had Fulton's on it with 1704 on top, I didn't give it much thought!

Either is fine so long as it looks good, wears well, and isn't too thick.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess spirit varnish is like German violins. There is a lot of bad stuff around that reflects negatively on the good stuff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.