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Nov 22, 2023 - 11:01:26 AM
970 posts since 9/3/2022

You see all sorts of ideas and opinions online. Most of my instruments get a proper cleaning every now and then but not the fiddle. I'm not talking the rosin over spray but what do you or how do you advise cleaning a violin/fiddle? I just wiped them both off with a cloth before but that's it. What's safe to use if anything?

I often wonder. I sit and look at both my rides and I'm baffled how all of those marks, dings and dents got on these things??? I mean, yes they got played....but I'm so careful with mine. Accidents do happen but come on??? lol.

Nov 22, 2023 - 11:14:49 AM

1226 posts since 7/30/2021

Mine looks like it’s been through the wars! My guess was that it was a fiddle for many years before it became a “violin”, because classical musicians don’t treat their instruments like that, LOL.

Anyway the way I clean mine off is to give it a spritz from the bottle of stuff I got from music store long ago ( special cleaner for wooden musical instruments) and then wipe with a soft cloth. Not very often… I usually just do if it feels sticky or the rosin dust is getting out of hand.

I don’t have any recs on cleaner brands, but some are more trusted than others? (I would avoid using household cleaning substances, or a lot of water…never know what it will do to the finish or the wood…)

Edited by - NCnotes on 11/22/2023 11:15:43

Nov 22, 2023 - 11:17:47 AM

DougD

USA

12005 posts since 12/2/2007
Online Now

I'm sure you'll get lots of advice, but the old violin repairman/dealer I bought my first violin from (in Williamsport, PA) told me that if I wrapped my instrument in a silk scarf when I put it in the case it would stay nice and shiny, plus silk is a remarkable insulator. So I bought several cheap Chinese scarves and have them in most of my cases. Sure enough, that fiddle still looks good 50 years later, and is what I play the most these days.

Nov 22, 2023 - 4:41:51 PM

1543 posts since 3/1/2020

Cleaning instruments is a subject on which I have strong opinions because I spend a lot of my time dealing with the effects of “cleaners.”

The short answer is that there is no such thing as a violin cleaning solution that works for everything. Violins are varnished with a wide variety of varnishes, some of which are extremely fragile or even water soluble. Some finishes are so bulletproof that you could soak them in alcohol for hours and they’d be untouched, but others will wear off if you polish too much with even a dry cloth.

The more time you spend working on instruments, the more you realize that cleaning a violin is almost never a straightforward task and it involves a lot of careful testing before selecting the appropriate products to do the job. Many cleaners are reactive and the chemical reactions between cleaner and varnish can be disastrous. There’s also the matter of knowing how to handle the varnish and when to stop cleaning.

The best way to keep a violin clean is to ALWAYS wipe the rosin off after playing and to avoid conditions that will put the violin at risk of damage to the varnish. Silk is a good material for keeping violins, and this is why many fine instruments are kept in specially made silk bags inside cases. A scarf that will cover will work as well.

Steer very clear of commercial “violin cleaners.” They tend to have solvents that can do harm or they leave a residue that adheres to the varnish and attracts dirt. I’ve dealt with a lot of violins that were regularly cleaned with products like these, and they not only left a gummy deposit on the surface, they also partially dissolved the varnish below.

If a dry cloth doesn’t remove whatever is on the instrument, take it to a luthier. So many good instruments have had their varnish destroyed by attempts to clean, and a violin can only have its original varnish once; as soon as the damage is done, it’s forever—even if a skilled luthier can do touchup or revarnish convincingly.

Edited by - The Violin Beautiful on 11/22/2023 16:42:20

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