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Varnish on viola neck


dhat1
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I have a question on how to deal with a viola with too much varnish on the neck.  The neck is too sticky for proper shifting.  With my violins, the neck feels as though I am touching wood, but on the viola the varnish is shiny and feels like touching plastic.

I'm not sure if the viola has spirit varnish or oil - I suspect it is spirit varnish.  It is not an expensive instrument - Chinese made in 2001 at about 1000 EUR at the time.  

Can I simply wipe the excess varnish off using alcohol?  Any advice?

 

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This kind of varnish might be alcohol resistant. So just to test I would first try alcohol in a rug and if this doesn't work maybe aceton (if you have this at home)

if this still didn't work you need to sandpaper it down. Without seeing your violas neck it is hard to give precise advice. Maybe start with #180 and finish with #400. My preferred sandpaper brand is 3M (the light grey type)

Once you reach the wood surface you need to be careful. Wetting the wood to raise the grain and sanoapering again after it dried is obligatory to get a smooth and stable finish. 

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On 4/18/2020 at 12:45 PM, dhat1 said:

I have a question on how to deal with a viola with too much varnish on the neck.  The neck is too sticky for proper shifting.  With my violins, the neck feels as though I am touching wood, but on the viola the varnish is shiny and feels like touching plastic.

I'm not sure if the viola has spirit varnish or oil - I suspect it is spirit varnish.  It is not an expensive instrument - Chinese made in 2001 at about 1000 EUR at the time.  

Can I simply wipe the excess varnish off using alcohol?  Any advice?

 

Unless you have a lot of experience with wood finishes, I wouldn't recommend this as a DIY project.

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Rather than stripping the varnish off you could rub it down with a very fine abrasive paper just enough to get the shine off. I have done it on a guitar and it makes shifting a lot easier.

Edited by Muswell
typing error
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You can try putting some talc on a moistened linen cloth (think polishing with one finger in the cloth) and rubbing the full length of the neck.  Talc is a very fine abrasive.  It should be either just enough to break the suction from the varnished surface to your hand or do nothing.  Doing nothing is a good outcome for DYI as opossed to doing too much.

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