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Re-Revarnishing Question


Kallie
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Hi Everyone,


Back in 2015 I bought a cello for dirt cheap. I posted on the forum to find out where it might have been made. It was suggested that it was made late 19th Century in Schönbach.

 

I repaired the major issues and it has made a great cello. Great sound, and delightful to play. Recently I decided to restore it even further (edge repairs, cleaning and re-gluing some old cracks etc).

 

Now the main question. It seems the cello has been re-varnished at some point in its history. And very crudely so. I've gotten quite a lot of experience lately in varnishing as well. To the point where I'm confident I can do a good job and considering re-doing the varnish on the cello (since it seems to already have been done anyway).

 

The question is, since it has already been re-varnished (losing much of its original value), would properly re-varnishing it again affect its value in a negative way?

 

I would like to try and expose any original varnish that might have been left after the over-varnishing, but it does seem like it was sanded down to the bare wood and then a new varnish applied over that.

 

I'm attaching some pics I took back in 2015 before any repairs have been done.

 

Thanks!

post-63555-0-64825100-1445068567.jpg

post-63555-0-30403300-1445068521.jpg

post-63555-0-78862600-1445068592.jpg

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If it’s already been revarnished, it wouldn’t be bad to redo the varnish. If it gets a better treatment this time around, it could even become more valuable. However, you do take on a certain amount of risk. If it doesn’t turn out better than it is now, it will be devalued more.

In cases like this, it’s best if you aren’t expecting to make anything on it. Revarnished instruments usually sell for less than pristine ones, even if the varnish is good. 

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1 hour ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

If it’s already been revarnished, it wouldn’t be bad to redo the varnish. If it gets a better treatment this time around, it could even become more valuable. However, you do take on a certain amount of risk. If it doesn’t turn out better than it is now, it will be devalued more.

In cases like this, it’s best if you aren’t expecting to make anything on it. Revarnished instruments usually sell for less than pristine ones, even if the varnish is good. 

It will remain my instrument unless I get it in such good condition that I'd be proud to sell it. :)

 

41 minutes ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

it doesn't look revarnished to me, leave well enough alone

There are quite a lot of sandpaper marks, easier to see in person than on the pictures, not to mention the uneven application of varnish which I wouldn't expect on an un-revarnished instrument of similar age and period.

 

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6 minutes ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

If anything is revarnished it might be just the top, the tops varnish is different from the back and sides.

Thank you for the advice.


This is pure speculation, but personally I think it's the other way around. I tested removing some varnish on a small part of the scroll and sides (which matches the back), to see if there might be some varnish underneath that could be exposed. Sadly, nothing, only sanding marks. Not even scraper marks either, clear rough sandpaper marks.. The top doesn't show prominent sanding marks as seen on the scroll and ribs. Due to this I'd think the top might contain most/if any of the original varnish. And that the sides, scroll and back has been over and/or re-varnished.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/31/2021 at 10:38 PM, Kallie said:

Thank you for the advice.


This is pure speculation, but personally I think it's the other way around. I tested removing some varnish on a small part of the scroll and sides (which matches the back), to see if there might be some varnish underneath that could be exposed. Sadly, nothing, only sanding marks. Not even scraper marks either, clear rough sandpaper marks.. The top doesn't show prominent sanding marks as seen on the scroll and ribs. Due to this I'd think the top might contain most/if any of the original varnish. And that the sides, scroll and back has been over and/or re-varnished.

Kallie, hoe kan ek jou kontak? Dankie.

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On 3/31/2021 at 12:52 PM, Kallie said:

I repaired the major issues and it has made a great cello. Great sound, and delightful to play. Recently I decided to restore it even further (edge repairs, cleaning and re-gluing some old cracks etc).

Now the main question. It seems the cello has been re-varnished at some point in its history. And very crudely so. I've gotten quite a lot of experience lately in varnishing as well. To the point where I'm confident I can do a good job and considering re-doing the varnish on the cello (since it seems to already have been done anyway).

The question is, since it has already been re-varnished (losing much of its original value), would properly re-varnishing it again affect its value in a negative way?

Since you have stated that you like the sound and playing qualities of the cello, I would not recommend re-varnishing it. Coatings can have major impacts on sound and playing properties.

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30 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

I would not recommend re-varnishing

I agree.

I cannot find a reason to revarnish this revarnished instrument. 

What you can do is to add the missing wood (at overhang, corners etc) retouch (as you did I think) and then French polish, a tampone con gommalacca. No heavy coatings or major alterations on the existing varnish. 

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Kallie, it looks like the same person that was at your cello did the same to my violin :wacko: Did you decide to leave it or try and revarnish?  I've been advised to leave mine and am trying to sit on my hands that are itching to fix... messy... inked... purfling... nggggg

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On 4/17/2021 at 11:35 AM, Lewis Lewis said:

Kallie, it looks like the same person that was at your cello did the same to my violin :wacko: Did you decide to leave it or try and revarnish?  I've been advised to leave mine and am trying to sit on my hands that are itching to fix... messy... inked... purfling... nggggg

 

Still open. Haven't done anything to the varnish yet, just fixed the edging/cleaned and reglued the cracks. Luckily this one has real purfling. :)

 

I'll see what it looks like when repaired and decide from there about the varnish.

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