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what would you do ... Varnish & bass bar

Mat Roop

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1) Thank you for the courtesy (your first) of the link to the older thread.


And we weren't there, so we don't know what it looked like when it was put away.

That is the kind of substance-free retort that, IMO, has disfigured more than one thread recently. The instrument you commented on was made by John Lott.

A432 : It looks like it was overheated because it was overheated.

JS : "So called 'old wives tale' ."

BF : All this was answered in the threads I linked to, one should only bother to read them instead of wasting time again in redundant discussions.

Great ! Let's do that, then :

MS :  "This kind of varnish damage comes from excessive heat, generally storage for a full summer in an uninsulated attic. Milder craquelure could I suppose be to do with a defective varnish, but mainly it's heat that does this.

Since we bought our old farm in Croatia, I have become aware of the ferocious heat that builds up in an uninsulated roof space, and I think it's actually a logical explanation, given how many violins are abandoned in attics.

I thought the hide glue size was the reason for the instability of the Mittenwald varnish ...?"

AD : " With regard to the discussion about causes of craquelure.....anyone heard of 'fat over lean' as the explanation? . . . I believe that this was an attempt to duplicate the Cremona look 

NS : There are all kinds of varnishes which crackle and heat can definitely speed up the process. I have seen two instruments salvaged from burned houses which really did look exactly like the ribs and scroll of the OP's violin and which according to the owners did not look like that before the fire. And I have seen a really beautiful Joseph Hel which was removed  from England to Australia and developed a really very nice crackle, such as Blank face"s first example of this thread, within a couple of years. My guess would be that the Mittenwald reds discussed here have a general tendency in this direction but that heat was also involved in this particular case.
A432 " And certainly was in the case of the Lott.
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It isn't substance free, it is a fact, we don't know what it looked like when it went in the attic. 

I don't need to argue the point with you. I have been in the trade long enough to see many instruments with this type of varnish failure and am satisfied with my own counsel in this arena.

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2 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

Here is a violin by the late John Sipe c. 1977 showing severe varnish failure. Apparently, this began happening on his violins during his lifetime, and he would re-varnish them gratis to replace the defective soft varnish.

It can be a matter of taste if one might have revarnished it by the maker himself (would still be "original":)) or leave it alone. Personally I think it looks more interesting this way than as plain, though nobody can know how it will look like in 100 years. But this doesn't need to bother us now.

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