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What type of varnish is this?


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3 hours ago, Byrdbop said:

Nice Gewa violin.  Possibly made in China.  Varnish very smooth and shiny.   

It's not "varnish". The finish is something else. Either French Polish, or more likely a spray coating of lacquer or urethane.

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32 minutes ago, Byrdbop said:

Yep has a kind of plastic feel

Lacquer is harder, more protective, but gives a harsher tone due to its inflexibility, it was popular in the early 20th century. Urethane is softer and more flexible and used on modern student level instruments. So that is a likely candidate.

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An ugly one?

Not likely to find oil varnish on a factory instrument, but it doesn't really look like a traditional shellac finish to me either. The gloss just looks so cheap. Some modern stuff I guess.

Shame, because the one piece back and the red colour are rather nice.

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Could be just about anything. Modern nitrocellulose lacquers can be spray painted to a smooth, high gloss finish. Modern water-based polyurethanes can give spectacularly clear and smooth finishes that are impossible to visually distinguish from fine oil or spirit varnishes.

French Polish is  not a "varnish", but rather a method for applying spirit varnish, typically shellac. That can also give the finish that appears on your violin, but it is rather labor intensive to apply as the main varnish. It is commonly done as a finish step to apply a very thin, protective coat and add a bit of sheen.

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Probably the most common finish on Chinese trade violins is industrially made cashew varnish (a food industry by-product), based on urushiol, and a close chemical relative of traditional Chinese lacquer.  Once it's cured, it's impervious to solvents.  If you can rub your violin with a drop of alcohol on a cotton swab without dissolving anything, it's probably going to be cashew.  In China, it's cheaper than polyurethane.  It's also heat-resistant, making it good for things shipped in containers.  IMHO, acoustically, it's probably not as great as oil varnish, but it's not the "kiss of death" either.  As can be seen from @Bruce Tai's latest paper, urushiol lacquer has been used on Chinese traditional stringed instruments for a very long time. :)

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18 hours ago, Violadamore said:

Probably the most common finish on Chinese trade violins is industrially made cashew varnish (a food industry by-product), based on urushiol, and a close chemical relative of traditional Chinese lacquer.  Once it's cured, it's impervious to solvents.  If you can rub your violin with a drop of alcohol on a cotton swab without dissolving anything, it's probably going to be cashew.  In China, it's cheaper than polyurethane.  It's also heat-resistant, making it good for things shipped in containers.  IMHO, acoustically, it's probably not as great as oil varnish, but it's not the "kiss of death" either.  As can be seen from @Bruce Tai's latest paper, urushiol lacquer has been used on Chinese traditional stringed instruments for a very long time. :)

Agreed.  The urushiol "varnish " is quite common in that sector of the trade.  It is very protective.  It will not wear in the typical manner of oil varnishes.  Rather it developes a haze of tiny scratches.  It is made as a cold solved or an emultion varnish. 

It's preparation and application bear no resemblance to the traditional ancient lacquer methods.

on we go,

Joe

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18 hours ago, Violadamore said:

Probably the most common finish on Chinese trade violins is industrially made cashew varnish (a food industry by-product), based on urushiol, and a close chemical relative of traditional Chinese lacquer.  Once it's cured, it's impervious to solvents.  If you can rub your violin with a drop of alcohol on a cotton swab without dissolving anything, it's probably going to be cashew.  In China, it's cheaper than polyurethane.  It's also heat-resistant, making it good for things shipped in containers.  IMHO, acoustically, it's probably not as great as oil varnish, but it's not the "kiss of death" either.  As can be seen from @Bruce Tai's latest paper, urushiol lacquer has been used on Chinese traditional stringed instruments for a very long time. :)

 

14 minutes ago, joerobson said:

Agreed.  The urushiol "varnish " is quite common in that sector of the trade.  It is very protective.  It will not wear in the typical manner of oil varnishes.  Rather it developes a haze of tiny scratches.  It is made as a cold solved or an emultion varnish. 

It's preparation and application bear no resemblance to the traditional ancient lacquer methods.

on we go,

Joe

So do we call it a lacquer or a varnish, and how is it applied please?

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7 minutes ago, sospiri said:

 

So do we call it a lacquer or a varnish, and how is it applied please?

I would call it a varnish.  Lacquer like spirit varnish and shellac remain vulnerable to their original solvent.

Brushed or sprayed.

on we go,

Joe

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48 minutes ago, Rue said:

Hmm. I will have to set myself straight on lacquer vs. varnish. I thought I was! Guess not!

Actually, we've wandered into a semantic minefield of imprecision, where the products are classified more by use and tradition than by composition or properties.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lacquer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varnish

IMHO, the thing to remember in the context of this thread, is that urushiol coatings (whatever you call them), just like epoxy and polyurethane, cannot be removed or repaired with solvent.  It's an aid to field identification.  :)

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2 hours ago, Rue said:

Hmm. I will have to set myself straight on lacquer vs. varnish. I thought I was! Guess not!

Your guess was as good as any of the rest, no disrespect intended.

With the atomization set right using a spray gun one could get that type of o.p.'s finish using gloss oil varnish from sherwin williams.

I mentioned spray as a comparison to the semi-gloss brushing with canned oil that I used on my first vso's - sheens are similar but I do see where brushing was done by myself vs smooth on the one here.

Could a violin finisher/factory afford a large amount of oil from a paint store?  I wouldn't know.  

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