Sign in to follow this  
Mat Roop

what would you do ... Varnish & bass bar

Recommended Posts

Hi Folks... 

I'm just getting to restoring a Ruggeri copy violin that I acquired several years ago. How would you proceed re the bass bar and varnish???

1- The bass bar is only 4.5 mm thick and 14.5 mm high including the top of 4mm thick at the center beside the bass bar... would you replace or reglue the existing which is unglued in places.

2-The varnish is heavily grained... do you think that the leathery texture is the result of the original varnish with the smooth parts being the ground, or is it a varnish applied at a later date.  I like the look of the distinct texture but it is rather exaggerated. ... What would you do (besides using it for firewood:))?? 

Thanks for your thoughts! ... Mat

ruggeribassbar1.JPG

ruggeribassbar2.JPG

ruggerilabel.JPG

ruggerivarnishback.JPG

ruggerivarnishtop.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If the bass bar is coming loose I would replace it using modern specs. If it wasn't coming loose however I would want to hear the violin before deciding to change it. I agree with Doug that the varnish looks fire damaged but believe there are some varnishes which did this on their own.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bass bar: Flop in a new one. if I understand correctly the bass bar is only 10.5 mm high (14.5  - 4.0) and this might be a little weak with a thickness of 4.5mm, 

The varnish is the bigger challenge. I would first test on a spot which isn't visible (under the fingerboard) what I can do with it  Options are light sanding and then try to polish and smoothen it . If this doesn't bring any optical satisfactory result there are really not many options left. Either touch up where you could use parts of the burnt varnish to make it look like dirt accumulations (in the center of the top for example.) 

if you think this is too time consuming revarnishing is the last option left but only because it seems.to be a factory copy of Ruggieri. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

.... I agree with Doug that the varnish looks fire damaged but believe there are some varnishes which did this on their own.

I'm inclined to think the varnish did it on its own... If it were fire damage there would be signs of soot inside, but all there is, is the usual age and dust. Under the "cooked " varnish there seems to be a solid layer of normal varnish and I'm wondering whether the outer layer of varnish is an original final coat that did not harden properly, or a very soft coat applied at some later time.... no doubt it has a lot of dirt mixed in.

 Thx... Mat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Bass bar: Flop in a new one. if I understand correctly the bass bar is only 10.5 mm high (14.5  - 4.0) and this might be a little weak with a thickness of 4.5mm, 

The varnish is the bigger challenge. I would first test on a spot which isn't visible (under the fingerboard) what I can do with it  Options are light sanding and then try to polish and smoothen it . If this doesn't bring any optical satisfactory result there are really not many options left. Either touch up where you could use parts of the burnt varnish to make it look like dirt accumulations (in the center of the top for example.) 

if you think this is too time consuming revarnishing is the last option left but only because it seems.to be a factory copy of Ruggieri. 

I agree ... a new bar is in order. But with the bar out... I'm inclined to regraduate???

As for re-varnishing... I've done a few many moons ago and never really happy with it...and now am not inclined to do that at all. I would rather clean up, and leave as is ... someone, including myself might like it... depending on how the instrument responds. I might get lucky and be able to remove the top layer leaving the apparently good underneath.

 Thanks for your thoughts!.... Mat

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, FiddleDoug said:

That varnish isn't grained, it's cooked!!! Almost looks like fire damage.

We recently had a huge discussion about a similar violin in the auction scroll, and at least all who were experienced with this sort of varnish agreed that the blackish colour insn't a result of heat or fire, but a natural process due to the varnish composition. This type of varnish is common to certain English and. like here, Mittenwald violins of the 19th century. A carefull treatment of the surface with fine abrasives usually removes the black and leaves the red colour.

Furthermore revarnishing is a non-option even for every half-brained restorer.

The bassbar is absolutely right and needs some reglueing only.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What I don't understand, if the original varnish coat did this by itself, why are there large areas that do not have the Craquelure, but Look very ordinary. Do you think it was a shaded varnish and only the darker parts had this tendency to form These dark "Drops"? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, baroquecello said:

What I don't understand, if the original varnish coat did this by itself, why are there large areas that do not have the Craquelure, but Look very ordinary. Do you think it was a shaded varnish and only the darker parts had this tendency to form These dark "Drops"? 

I'm not really sure about this, but it seems that regions like the center of the bottom and touch points of the belly have a sort of "natural" polish by contact and didn't craze or darken due to this. But that's only speculative. But I'm used to see it this way.

3 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Bass bar: Flop in a new one. if I understand correctly the bass bar is only 10.5 mm high (14.5  - 4.0) and this might be a little weak with a thickness of 4.5mm,

if you think this is too time consuming revarnishing is the last option left but only because it seems.to be a factory copy of Ruggieri. 

The OP wrote that the bar is 14.5 mm high and the top beside it 4mm, so that's an ok measurement IMO; but even 10.5 isn't so much out of the range. The violin isn't "factory, but made by Mittenwald homeworkers, what we can see for example at the linings morticed into the corner blocks with a "point". I won't call it a Ruggieri "copy" neither, rather a randomly glued in label which could carry any other name.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, Blank face said:

I'm not really sure about this, but it seems that regions like the center of the bottom and touch points of the belly have a sort of "natural" polish by contact and didn't craze or darken due to this. But that's only speculative. But I'm used to see it this way.

The OP wrote that the bar is 14.5 mm high and the top beside it 4mm, so that's an ok measurement IMO; but even 10.5 isn't so much out of the range. The violin isn't "factory, but made by Mittenwald homeworkers, what we can see for example at the linings morticed into the corner blocks with a "point". I won't call it a Ruggieri "copy" neither, rather a randomly glued in label which could carry any other name.

I understood 'the bar is 14.5mm high including the top of 4.0mm' as top plus bass bar equals 14.5mm. 

Not awfully weak but while already unglued not worth saving it.  making a new bass bar can be done in one hour if you are fast.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, Blank face said:

I'm not really sure about this, but it seems that regions like the center of the bottom and touch points of the belly have a sort of "natural" polish by contact and didn't craze or darken due to this. But that's only speculative. But I'm used to see it this way.

The OP wrote that the bar is 14.5 mm high and the top beside it 4mm, so that's an ok measurement IMO; but even 10.5 isn't so much out of the range. The violin isn't "factory, but made by Mittenwald homeworkers, what we can see for example at the linings morticed into the corner blocks with a "point". I won't call it a Ruggieri "copy" neither, rather a randomly glued in label which could carry any other name.

Yea, a sort of 'factory copy' where names are only used to distinguish the grade of the violin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Yea, a sort of 'factory copy' where names are only used to distinguish the grade of the violin.

Not exactly. This might apply to certain Mirecourt or EH Roths etc. Mittenwald had no factories but homeworkers making boxes, necks, varnishing etc. from ressources delivered to them by the Verleger firms, but based on a more traditional handcrafting with inside moulds. These are, especially when made in the 19th century, much more sought after and better paid than same period Markneukirchens (when having the original varnish:)).

Agree that it isn't a big affair wether to replace the bar or not. If it's fitting and easily to reglue I would keep it, if not make a new one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

The Illustrated Instrument has nothing to do with "heat damage". Most Instruments of, for instance, Jeffrey Gibert of Peterbirough look like that

That's why you never, ever trust any popular explanations like "looks similar to something (burned wood), therefore must be the same". The other thread took about 5 or 6 pages to explain why all the ten thousands of violins with a varnish looking like this weren't all saved from burning houses, stored at hot attics, heated car trunks, close to camp fires or more fancy but wrong anecdotes. Exhausting.:huh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Blank face said:

We recently had a huge discussion about a similar violin in the auction scroll, and at least all who were experienced with this sort of varnish agreed that the blackish colour insn't a result of heat or fire, but a natural process due to the varnish composition. This type of varnish is common to certain English and. like here, Mittenwald violins of the 19th century. A carefull treatment of the surface with fine abrasives usually removes the black and leaves the red colour.

Furthermore revarnishing is a non-option even for every half-brained restorer.

The bassbar is absolutely right and needs some reglueing only.

Hard to say from pictures what caused the varnish to sweat. Heat is one possibility. 

If you first try to rub it down gradually, you will see what is coming out. In most of the cases it is 'workable'. 

We could get in a heated discussion where to draw the line of revarnishing as an option. I am by no way saying revarnishing is the best option and this includes no-name instrument

 However if we would take it REALLY seriously, even normal touch up would be forbidden because we don't know the original recipe and do something which in many cases does not prolong the life of the instrument neither does it improve the sound or preserve what is originally left. So in the case mentioned by the OP we should actually leave it as it is. (?) 

In the restoration of Japanese ceramics there exists the interesting idea of making replaced parts visible by purpose. However to 'honor' the original object, precious materials like gold or silver are used for material replacements. 

So again, where to draw the line? IMHO go for the best you can do preserving and only if all possible attempts have failed you can do what you shouldn't do. 

(BTW In guitar restoration revarnishing seems to cause no fundamental ethic discussions.)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Hard to say from pictures what caused the varnish to sweat. Heat is one possibility. 

If you first try to rub it down gradually, you will see what is coming out. In most of the cases it is 'workable'. 

We could get in a heated discussion where to draw the line of revarnishing as an option. I am by no way saying revarnishing is the best option and this includes no-name instrument

As I said above, about all questions, the pros and cons you can read again here and save a lot of time for another discussionB).

and here

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Lott 'cello,  http://www.aviolin.com/cellos/lott.html   was the subject of an interesting article by a restorer-dealer in Britain who bought it at auction there, still in its original configuration and period case. He'd been hoping to sell it as it was to a period instrument player ;  it looks like that fell through and it was modernized. At any rate, the blog post (which used to be found easily) no longer is.

Inquiring into it via the auctioneer connecting him with the owner, he found it had, in fact, been kept in an attic, where it had repeatedly gotten overheated over a long period of time.

It looks like it was overheated because it was overheated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, A432 said:

 

Inquiring into it via the auctioneer connecting him with the owner, he found it had, in fact, been kept in an attic, where it had repeatedly gotten overheated over a long period of time.

It looks like it was overheated because it was overheated.

So called "old wives tale"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have seen a fair number of instruments, usually with a "Simon Kriner" label, Mittenwalders, that have this malady. I presently have a cello, Mittenwald from the early/mis 19th c, that has the same problem.

In the IPCI book, volume 1, there is a lengthy article on varnish failures and this sort of damage is shown in photographs and detailed. I think that this is the orig. varnish and we see that it has had problems.

Smooth it out, as Jacob says, lightly polish, and go forward. As for the bar, do as you wish since most of us would probably replace the bar if it came through our shops.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
47 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

So called "old wives tale"

Or old husband's. We could call clueless explanations from now on "Paganini's file", for political correctness.:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

According to the owner of the house it came out of, it had been stored in the attic for many years.

I apparently need to remind you that this sort of thing is filed under the heading, "provenance," and is highly valued.

Except by oppositional defiants with axes to grind.  :rolleyes:

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.