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Strings signs on the violin's neck
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NiloiV
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August 26, 2016 - 3:36 pm
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Ahoy! so, this is going to be stupid and kinda humiliating to admit.. 3 days ago I bought a new violin for $1500 and a new bow for $750 in a spur of a moment.. 

Yeah yeah, I now, stupid, as I said, and as my violin teacher made very sure to let me know, numerous times.. Nevertheless, the truth is that after telling me off for quite a while, he did admit it to be quite a successful purchase, to say the least..

When I just bought it, I got it with really old and worn-out Evah Pirazzi strings, which I have immediately replaced with a brand new set of Dominant strings (except for the E string which I replaced for a Pirastro Gold one). 

Anyway, today I noticed that the new strings left marks on the black neck - which is supposed to be made of a genuine black wood, not a painted one. And I'm quite worried now that I might have been scammed. My tutor looked at it and said that it really doesn't seem as if the wood's color is wearing out, but I'm afraid that he's just trying to make me feel better..

What do you think? Is it normal for a black neck to get these strings signs if it's not a painted one?

 

Thanks, and sorry for any mistakes I might have done - I'm not a native English speaker. 

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Charles
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August 27, 2016 - 10:37 am
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I've never seen anything like that happen on any of mine.  However, I believe you said it was quite a successful purchase, which I assume means the sound.

The wood the fingerboard is made out of does not affect the sound much, if any. Ebony is used A) Because ebony is a hard wood, and will resist wear well, and B) violin makers have a thing about ebony. 

You will see lots and lots of people ranting because a fingerboard is NOT made of ebony. Any hard wood would do. If the wood is so soft that you quickly wear pits into it, that would be bad. Otherwise, it doesn't matter much.

Also, fingerboards (ebony ones) don't cost all that much. Not sure what the labor would be to replace it.

To me, the issue would be the sound. If it sounds like a $1500 violin and $750 bow should, you didn't come out too badly, even if you did get scammed. If it sounds like a $3000 violin, you got a good deal, even if the fingerboard is fake ebony.  If it sounds like a $300 violin... Ouch. (But that's unlikely, given what you and your tutor have had to say about it.) 

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damfino
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August 27, 2016 - 12:16 pm
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I have ebony fingerboards on 2 fiddles, and slightly black plain hard wood on another, and I don't notice marks on any. An area might have gotten some shine to it where I've played the most, but I'd have to really look for it. 

Maybe you could post a picture of the marks? What I'm picturing in my head might not be what it looks like at all, and then others could weigh in.

But, imo, if it sounds good, I wouldn't worry too much about the fingerboard.

~ I'm not torturing cats... I'm learning to play violin! ~

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OldOgre
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August 27, 2016 - 2:15 pm
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hello and welcome.

Pictures would be a major help.

But I do know that some makers dye there ebony Black. Since most ebony in natural state is a dark chocolate color with some brown tones to its grain. One way to tell if its dyed is to take a papertowel fold it and slip it under the strings and polish the fingerboard and see it the towel come out with black on it.

As stated this does not effect the sound of the violin just the looks.

I hope this helps you, happy playing

With violins there is no fretting over the music.

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BillyG
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August 28, 2016 - 2:03 am
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Hia @NiloiV and welcome.

What the folks above have said is good guidance - and yes - pictures really help.

But there is something that confuses me - you referred to the violin as "new" but the strings as "really old and worn out" - so do you just mean that the violin is "new to you, but second hand" ?   I can't see a brand-new $1500 instrument coming with old strings....   Sooooo... I'm thinking - perhaps if this a "new to you but second-hand" violin, maybe some attempt was made to "spruce it up" to make it look its best, to look like factory condition, including someone applying fresh dye / colour to the neck ?

I'm probably WAY off base - just thoughts from your original description that referred to the "new" violin and the "old" strings....

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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NiloiV
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August 28, 2016 - 11:03 am
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Thank you all for your good and informative answers! Sorry that I haven't had time to reply until now.. studying for an exam 🙁 
But I have taken everything you people said into consideration.20160827_201918.jpgImage Enlarger

Anyhow, I am attaching a picture which in my opinion shows the issue pretty well.

 

@BillyG , sorry if I wasnt very clear. The instrument is not NEW per se, just new to me 🙂

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BillyG
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August 28, 2016 - 3:02 pm
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All good @NiloiV - OK so it is indeed a "used / second-hand" instrument - well - know what - to my mind - if it sounds good, plays good, and looks good ( well, looks to me are never actually important, but I appreciate it matters to others ) - I reckon you have a "keeper" there... (and from the pic, it just looks like the "surface" has been worn away a little bit, with whatever WAS on top just wearing-off - and I go back to my initial post - it "may have been made to look good" by someone doing a bit of a re-spray (for want of better words) on the fingerboard....   because - guess what - if it IS a used violin - then SURE - there will be some light markings - not obvious, but there to be seen with a keen-eye on anything that's been played for some time  -------  so right now - no - in my own opinion - nope - I wouldn't worry over-much about it at all !

Good luck with your journey !  bunny_pole_dancer

EDIT : added later - I can't do this right now - but I recently bought yet another fiddle to add to my collection, manufactured inn the 1920/30's - it has been played a LOT over the years - and has very similar wear marks on the fingerboard ( which is without doubt ebony ) - the surface is, in itself not "worn down, or grooved, or ridged" in any way - it is just light wear-marks where it has been mostly played ( LOL - I can tell by the signs - mostly first position - must have belonged to a "fiddler" LOLOL )  - I'll post that pic tomorrow if I can.   As I said earlier - I wouldn't worry too much about your recent purchase....

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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NiloiV
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August 28, 2016 - 4:12 pm
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Yay! sounds great, and thanks!

And yeah, fiddlers don't move away from the 1st position, ever.. My first teacher was like that - he specialized in arabic/persian music (which I love!) and I went to see him performing couple of times. NOT ONCE did he leave 1st position! It was so odd.

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Fiddlerman
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August 29, 2016 - 12:34 pm
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IMO, the color came off the string and has nothing to do with the fingerboard. I wouldn't worry at all. I've seen this many times.

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

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BillyG
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August 29, 2016 - 3:45 pm
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Yes, interesting point Pierre ...

Ebony of course is indeed a very dense and hard wood, specifically chosen for the purpose of dealing with repeated finger-pressure on the strings without developing wear-ridges over time.

I had read that ebony wood is not always "jet black" and can still be dyed.  (How that is done, I haven't discovered yet - because of its natural density, and very, very tight grained, if it IS ever dyed, I assume it must be pressure treated to achieve that - but I don't know for sure ).  Not all ebony woods are naturally "black" - they often are a "light-black" / grey colour - but indeed are still hard-wood ebony - and I initially thought that THAT was where the "grey-er coloured wear-areas" came from (being possibly the "natural colour" of the original wood)

Now YESSS - @Fiddlerman - I get your point indeed.   In fact, my FM Concert after two years of almost daily playing shows similar markings (not to the same extent as my "new-to-me" 1920/30's e-bay fiddle - which has clearly been played a LOT over the years ) - but such markings ARE visible on the Concert (and have never been a cause for concern)....

Because ebony is indeed such a hard wood - I hadn't thought about the marking being from the strings themselves - hmmmm - and I now see that as being quite possible - largely because - we are talking about either aluminium or silver wound strings - and both of these are very soft metals indeed.   So, sure, I could understand that the "wear/discolouration" marks could well be from the strings....  and because the ebony is so hard, and close grained, the discolouration is more like an "engrained stain" that has worked its way into the wood, and will NOT rub off... hmmm... yup - always worth thinking about these things...  Thank you Pierre !

Although - having said that - it still does suggest that if it "just started happening after a short time of playing" on the "second-hand violin" and wasn't originally there when purchased, that the violin fingerboard had been "doctored" to make it look like new. - especially if the original strings were as you say "really worn"...

Hmmm...  but for sure, once again for the original post @NiloiV - doesn't look like anything to worry about at all.

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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Crazymotive
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September 9, 2016 - 12:41 am
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OldOgre said
hello and welcome.

Pictures would be a major help.

But I do know that some makers dye there ebony Black. Since most ebony in natural state is a dark chocolate color with some brown tones to its grain. One way to tell if its dyed is to take a papertowel fold it and slip it under the strings and polish the fingerboard and see it the towel come out with black on it.

As stated this does not effect the sound of the violin just the looks.

I hope this helps you, happy playing  

My violin has  an ebony fingerboard with some small, faint brownish colour to it's grain in one or two spots. At first I was a bit concerned that maybe it was  either not ebony but some other wood stained black or else  it was a very cheap grade of ebony. But,  after doing a bit of research I learned that not all ebony is perfectly jet-black through and  through and some very fine quality violins use ebony that has some lighter  color tones It is perfectly normal.

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Crazymotive
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NiloiV said
Yay! sounds great, and thanks!

And yeah, fiddlers don't move away from the 1st position, ever.. My first teacher was like that - he specialized in arabic/persian music (which I love!) and I went to see him performing couple of times. NOT ONCE did he leave 1st position! It was so odd.  

Huh ?? I have seen plenty of "fiddlers"(as in violin players who play country,folk, bluegrass as opposed to traditional classical music) who play higher positions,  sometimes almost right on up to the  bridge.  I play mostly classical music and I play mostly 1st  and 3rd position (and sometimes 4th,5th and higher) particular  when I have to play through passages that have  a  lot of high register notes on the E string.  However  I am sure have seen quite a few fiddlers play high positions as well.

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Crazymotive
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NiloiV said
Thank you all for your good and informative answers! Sorry that I haven't had time to reply until now.. studying for an exam 🙁 
But I have taken everything you people said into consideration.20160827_201918.jpgImage Enlarger

Anyhow, I am attaching a picture which in my opinion shows the issue pretty well.

 

@BillyG , sorry if I wasnt very clear. The instrument is not NEW per se, just new to me 🙂  

I have seen similar string markings on the  fingerboards of other  instruments as well.  I agree with Fiddlerman, the markings seem to be  from the strings themselves. Could be from the metals used to  wind  the strings or could be from rosin. As long as the strings are not cutting grooves in the fingerboard I am sure you are okay.  The important thing is how do you like the violin ?  Does it play well and does it  meet your expectations ?

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Fiddlerman
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September 9, 2016 - 10:18 pm
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Yep. Comes on all my violins. It shows that you are using your instrument. 🙂

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

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NiloiV
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September 10, 2016 - 5:36 pm
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@fiddlerguy, Yup, I am definitely using it, as much as I can. Such a bliss, can't understand how come not everyone does it (more like, how come whenever I tell people about my hobby, they always call me "Anna Frank" and ask me to play the Schindler's List theme instead of saying something like, omg omg, you are so lucky!) 🙂

@Crazymotive I love it! such an enormous improvment from my previous one. I know It's not going to be the last violin I'll ever have, but for now it suits my needs prefectly. Planning on going to the luthier sometime during this week and have some work done on it, maybe polish it a little bit, make it completely "mine". But i'm already realy attached to it, named it and everything 🙂

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pky
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Black on my fingers all the time, not much on my daughter's. I changed her strings last month, and black color came off. 

Two possible causes for the black color:

1. sometimes the fingerboard is dyed black to make the black even on it, the dye came off. To check if your fingerboard is really ebony,check the under side; ti it is a dyed white wood, they may miss some part of it, on the under side.  if you are still not sure about it, you could use a sharp knife, scrap off a little piece from the under side and see it is black. 

2. the strings surface oxidized in the air; thus the surface turns darker and came off when fingers contact it. Prove: wipe the strings off before practice to see it that cut down the black on fingers. 

If the violin sounds nice, both causes should not be the reason not to buy it. you could always replace the fingerboard.

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