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Thumb Slippage - Varnished Neck Question
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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FinalPatriot
NW Atlanta
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February 24, 2013 - 8:28 pm
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I actually just have a quick question that has been bothering me for a bit and was hoping that you all might be able to give me some advice.  My violin has been mostly restored now and I thoroughly enjoy playing it.  The one issue I have is that the neck was replaced somewhere around 70 years ago and for some strange reason, the underside is varnished.  When trying to do correct technique on vibrato, I often find that my thumb will slip a bit and it makes it somewhat more difficult to get the sound I'd like.  My electric doesn't have varnish (paint in this case) on the bottom and so it's much easier for me to get the results I'm hoping for.

 

Do you all think I should have the varnish removed from the underside or will this problem be corrected as I get more experience?  I'm currently sitting on a whopping 5 months of training so I really don't have a clue as to what I should expect.

 

As always, I appreciate your thoughts and suggestions.  You folks have helped me a great deal since I got started.

 

 

"I know a girl who cries when she practices violin because each note sounds so pure it just cuts into her, and then the melody comes pouring out her eyes. Now, to me, everything else just sounds like a lie."

Conor Oberst
 
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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
February 24, 2013 - 11:25 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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All the violins that I play on have a clear varnish on the neck. It would feel strange for me to have an unvarnished neck plus it would probably get real dirty.
You can always remove the varnish if it feels better for you that way.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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cdennyb
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February 25, 2013 - 1:26 am
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I suggest working thru the varnish slippage issue with more time and experience. The varnish is there to keep the moisture out of the wood which might cause other problems.

 

Give it some time, you'll be fine...thumbs-up

"If you practice with your hands you must practice all day. Practice with your mind and you can accomplish the same amount in minutes." Nathan Milstein

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FinalPatriot
NW Atlanta
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February 25, 2013 - 5:25 am
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That makes sense then.  I appreciate the help!

"I know a girl who cries when she practices violin because each note sounds so pure it just cuts into her, and then the melody comes pouring out her eyes. Now, to me, everything else just sounds like a lie."

Conor Oberst
 
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DanielB
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February 26, 2013 - 4:50 pm
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I think at least on some acoustic violins, the neck is finished with less of a gloss.  That can feel more like it is perhaps bare polished wood, but if it were actually unfinished, the wood of the neck would get pretty ugly from dirt, sweat and oil from the hand. 

My electric has a painted glossy neck that was very different in feel from the neck on my acoustic.  The difference when changing between instruments was mildly annoying, and my thumb had more of a tendency to want to "stick" on the glossy neck.  So I masked around an area that was similar in size and shape to what was non-glossy on my acoustic violin, and lightly used some 600 grit sandpaper on the neck of the electric.  Just a few strokes, just enough to "kill the shine".  Some guitarists do that to make a glossy guitar neck "faster" to move on.

After cleaning off the bit of dust from the sanding, the difference in appearance is really only noticeable if one is looking for it.

The difference is probably hard to see in these pics, since it is "black vs black" and the one detail of the heel of the neck where it is easier to see came out a little blurry.  Obviously I wouldn't advise doing it on an expensive instrument, but I feel it did help a bit with my electric and didn't "uglify" it too badly, since I kept the sanding neat enough that it looks like it might have even come that way.

100_0443.JPGImage Enlarger100_0444.JPGImage Enlarger

 

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"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Sofia Leo
Lebanon, Oregon
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March 3, 2013 - 10:44 pm
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DanielB said
So I masked around an area that was similar in size and shape to what was non-glossy on my acoustic violin, and lightly used some 600 grit sandpaper on the neck of the electric.  Just a few strokes, just enough to "kill the shine". 

What he said. To prevent dirt build-up some builders use mineral or linseed oil and buff with a soft cloth - still lets you feel the wood without the slick-ness of varnish.

 

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