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Cosmetic damage to fingerboard caused by rosin?


Cee
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Hello,

I have just acquired a second hand violin (maybe you have seen my previous post earlier today), and the varnish has a strange texture near the bridge. I have also noticed that the fingerboard is a bit "grainy" and shiny near the bridge. Do you reckon it is damage caused by rosin, or maybe by someone trying to clean rosin build-up? Can I do something to make it look better?

I never had this problem with the violins I played in the past (probably because I cleaned them every time I put them back in their case!)

Sorry if my questions sound naive, and thank you for any advice you can give me. 

Here is a picture.

20211020_090652.thumb.jpg.d46382b0cf3b9bb6ae35471df5771050.jpg

 

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This is common.  It is a rosin accumulation.  I scrape it off with something that is too dull to cut into the finger board, like the edge of a steel ruler, then clean it up with the finest grade of steel wool.  You can do it with the strings on.  It’s easier with them off, but you risk the sound post falling without string tension.  I clean it off the finger board edges and end, too.

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You can take the violin to somewhere to have these areas professionally cleaned. Although I clean my own violins, over time the rosin builds up a bit more than my bottle of cleaner can handle. I don’t like the idea of chemicals sitting on the varnish for long, or lots of scrubbing.

Therefore, once in a while, or when changing strings, I ask someone to look at it for me. Doesn’t take them long, and looks like new afterwards, if a 250 year old violin can ever look new :D

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Thank you both for your replies, and thank you moderators for approving my previous posts.

First, I am a she. Second, I am a bit less concerned about the look of the fingerboard and varnish now that I found a crack on the violin! What a shame.

It is not visible on the picture but there is a hairline crack right in the middle of the violin between the bridge and the tail piece. It does not move/open when I very gently press with my finger but I am pretty sure there is something...

I am so sad.

The tone of this violin (from the label it looks like a vintage German instrument) is so much better than the one of my stentor student 2...

I think cracks are tricky to fix and, if I understand correctly, are only worth the money and effort for the more expensive instruments (or those with sentimental value)

 

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What you are describing might be the centre joint. Sometimes these can start to come open, but it can be reglued. Maybe it already has, and this is why you can notice it.

Even if it is a crack, these too can be repaired. Not everything warrants taking an instrument apart to repair a crack and fitting cleats, though this is obviously the best method.
My advice would be to take it to a qualified restorer, and have them look at it for you, and give you a price. You can then decide what might seem the best course of action.

Otherwise, it's just a lot of what if's, and guessing, which isn't going to get you far.

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23 hours ago, Cee said:

Thank you both for your replies, and thank you moderators for approving my previous posts.

First, I am a she. Second, I am a bit less concerned about the look of the fingerboard and varnish now that I found a crack on the violin! What a shame.

It is not visible on the picture but there is a hairline crack right in the middle of the violin between the bridge and the tail piece. It does not move/open when I very gently press with my finger but I am pretty sure there is something...

I am so sad.

The tone of this violin (from the label it looks like a vintage German instrument) is so much better than the one of my stentor student 2...

I think cracks are tricky to fix and, if I understand correctly, are only worth the money and effort for the more expensive instruments (or those with sentimental value)

 

Welcome to MN!  The "crack" you describe sounds like it might be an opening in the center joint caused by wood shrinkage in a cheaply-made trade violin.  I have an example like that, which was made by Sudetenland refugees in Mittenwald after WW II.  It had pegbox and neck heel shrinkage cracks as well, due to the use of improperly dried wood.  I repaired the pegbox problems first, then found that the lower bout centerline closure was going to prove intractable.  I finally cleated the joint to stabilize it, but otherwise left it alone.  I felt that I couldn't sell it like that, so I've kept it as an example of "Mittenwald Saxon".  It plays all right.  If yours isn't visibly getting any worse, you might just keep playing it.  I suspect that the corner opening in your other thread is related, and probably stable as well, just unsightly.  :)

I see that @Wood Butcher popped an answer in. also addressing center joints, while I was composing this. 

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7 hours ago, Cee said:

…It does not move/open when I very gently press with my finger…

That it does not move suggests that it might not be an open crack.  Perhaps it’s the glue line of the center joint that you are mistaking for a crack.  Or perhaps it’s a crack (or formerly-open center joint) that has already been glued.  Or perhaps you are pressing too gently.  If it has already been glued, it’s probably fine.

When I test a crack by pressing on one side with a finger, I usually press hard enough to be able to see the top depress under the force of my finger.  I look closely to see if the crack opens or if one side goes down and the other side doesn’t.  I suggest that you press on the G string side of the alleged crack, because the E string side is supported by the sound post.

Another crack-detecting trick is to spread a few drops of water where you think you have a crack before pressing.  If it really is an open crack, the water can often make it apparent by being drawn in by the suction you create by pressing, or by a visible disturbance on the water’s surface.

I you put up a good picture, we might be able to tell you more.

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@Wood Butcher, @Violadamore and @Brad Dorsey Thank you for your messages. 

I think you are right, and I mislabelled this as a crack while it looks more like a centre joint opening.

I have contacted the luthier and they will look at my instrument next week. Thank you again for your advice.

I like that violin, so I am crossing my fingers that I will get reassuring news.

When I said that this instrument "sounded better than my stentor student 2", it really did not do it justice. The sound of the G string is very very nice. I am really happy with the tone. 

I don't mean to say that the stentor student violins are awful. I purchased one because I wanted to play again after many years, and it inspired me to play more! I use to play the violin and viola as a child, when dominant strings were cheap ;-) But that is off topic (my apologies to the moderators for my rambling post).

This is a new picture showing the possible centre joint opening. I have not tried to "mess with it" (sorry for the non-technical vocabulary!) to confirm, as I think I should leave that to the experts for now!

(sorry about all the dust, I have not had the time to give the instrument a good clean yet)

20211021_155004.jpg

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6 hours ago, Cee said:

(sorry about all the dust, I have not had the time to give the instrument a good clean yet)

As you have now arranged to have someone look at the instrument, I would suggest that you do not clean it before they see it.
Most commercial cleaners contain oils, waxes and other substances which could get into a crack and make it very difficult to glue properly.

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1 hour ago, Wood Butcher said:

As you have now arranged to have someone look at the instrument, I would suggest that you do not clean it before they see it.
Most commercial cleaners contain oils, waxes and other substances which could get into a crack and make it very difficult to glue properly.

oh, ok...

Unfortunately, I have just done it using hidersol...

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