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General questions about cheaper violin outfits
Bow quality, black fingertips, Cremona SV175
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knock
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April 27, 2015 - 12:27 am
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I've been happily playing my violin for two weeks, and started to notice a bunch of small things that, while they don't affect playability, are concerning.

 

The first is my fingertips are turning black.  Some searching showed me that it could either be the strings (D'Addario Preludes that came on the violin, which was made in 2014, if that helps anybody), or the fingerboard (it's a cheap SV 175, so there is more than likely dye on the fretboard).

 

I was wondering if anybody could come up with recommendations to combat the dyeing of my fingertips?  I don't think I've been sweating enough to cause the strings to color my fingers, because even today it was cool where I live.  Any tips or instructions on how to resolve, or lessen, this issue would be appreciated.  Thanks!

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OldOgre
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April 27, 2015 - 1:01 am
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Hello and Welcome to the Insanity of Strings.

     You could do what I did , and fold a paper towel so it fits under the strings.

Then fold it over the strings and push down and run it all the way up and down the fingerboard. You will find it doesn't take long to turn the paper towel black. Just turn it to a clean side and repeat.

this also cleans the strings at the same time...lol

Hope this helps you

With violins there is no fretting over the music.

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knock
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April 27, 2015 - 1:54 am
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It reminds me of this thing you can get for guitar.  I think it's a plastic clamshell with microfiber in it, you fold it around the strings, and wipe.  It's useful for phosphor bronze acoustics, and old acoustic strings can make you pretty grungy.  I'll do that tomorrow before I practice.  Should i use alcohol or anything for better effect, or just do it dry (I won't use alcohol if I don't get a response, don't worry!).

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Uzi
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April 27, 2015 - 9:18 am
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Don't use alcohol. 

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

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OldOgre
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April 27, 2015 - 10:14 am
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By all means DO NOT use alcohol. it can ruin the finish on your violin.

With violins there is no fretting over the music.

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knock
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April 28, 2015 - 4:52 am
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I didn't use alcohol.

 

My fingers still turned black, but it didn't seem to be as bad, I'll just keep rubbing the strings down.

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Fiddlestix
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April 28, 2015 - 7:12 am
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Alcohol is all I use to remove the oxidation on my strings when my finger tips start turning black

I don't have a dyed finger board on either of my violins, FM,"Concert Master" and my "Frenzo Bartali". FM / CM $300.00 the "Bartali retails $4000.00. Both have real ebony fb's so there is no dye to wear off.

The strings on the CM are Zyex  the FB are Obligato.

A couple years ago there was some debate on here about cleaning strings, so I called "D'Addario" Co. and spoke with a representative of the company and asked about using alcohol on the strings. He said alcohol was fine since they didn't make a cleaner specific for strings as of yet.

To clean the rosin build-up off the strings, I used to use alcohol as well, but now I find that using the Fiddlerman micro fiber cloth is excellent for that purpose.

One has to use their head and not saturate the cloth as to drip alcohol on the violin finish.

 

Ken.

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Jim Dunleavy
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April 28, 2015 - 8:06 am
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Rubbing with a wine cork is a good way to get rosin off the strings.

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Just4Fun
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April 28, 2015 - 9:46 am
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I wipe the strings with alcohol while holding my violin with the strings facing the floor to be sure there's no dripping on the varnish. 

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ElisaDalViolin
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April 28, 2015 - 10:14 am
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I only use a bit of alcohol on a cotton swab when I see rosin build-up that the simple microfiber cloth can't remove in the section of bow contact. Just a drop or two to make it damp and that's enough. For everyday use, the cloth makes its job pretty well.

 
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coolpinkone
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April 28, 2015 - 1:09 pm
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I used to use alcohol on the strings. Now i just use the FM cloth or my own hand knit cloth.

I am thinking though, It is time for a bow cleaning and a string cleaning. 

🙂  Good thoughts everyone, Thank you.

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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Fiddlestix
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April 28, 2015 - 5:20 pm
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I don't know why so many people think the swab or cloth has to be dripping wet in order the clean rosin off the strings.

C'mon people "think about it:" use your heads.

 

Ken       dunno

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DanielB
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April 28, 2015 - 8:26 pm
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I usually just rub the bowed area of the strings with a cork to get off rosin and prevent build-up, then wipe them with a clean soft cloth.  Once a week or so I'll also wipe down the fingered area of the strings with a tarnish removing cloth like you can get fairly cheap in any music store.  The tarnish removing cloth does seem to help with keeping the strings sounding decent longer, in my few years of experience.

I use the cork because it was what I was told was best by the only life-long string player I knew back when I first got my violin.  Haven't had any problems with it so far, so I stick with it.  Besides, I'm a klutz and I will avoid getting anything like rubbing alcohol even near my acoustic violin.  Sooner or later I figure I'd have an accident, so I prefer not to chance it if I don't have to.

However... Bear in mind that I clean the strings with the cork and wipe them off with a cloth every time I play my acoustic violin.  I don't know how well it would work if it was only done once in a while.

"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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knock
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April 29, 2015 - 3:40 am
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For rosin, I use my fingernail.  I just realized now that for the same reasons I shouldn't touch the bow, I shouldn't touch that part of the strings.  @DanielB, the cork idea seems solid.

I don't think my fingerboard is dyed, since no black came off of it (what I read about dyed fingerboards wasn't specific about price range, and so probably wasn't worth mentioning).

On a related note, I'm thinking about changing my strings out anyway, since they are probably rather old (the violin was made in 2014, I assume these are the same strings it came off the factory floor with), but wanted to see if I could put that off for a while.  Might this keep my fingertips clean, at least for a while, or is this just a fairly normal part of violin with steel strings?

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dionysia
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April 29, 2015 - 2:03 pm
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Fiddlestix said
I don't know why so many people think the swab or cloth has to be dripping wet in order the clean rosin off the strings.

C'mon people "think about it:" use your heads.

 

Ken       dunno

Ken - I used my head and now my forehead is black and a little bit scraped up. I think I will go back to wiping with a cloth.  facepalm

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Fiddlestix
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April 29, 2015 - 6:48 pm
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dionysia said

Ken - I used my head and now my forehead is black and a little bit scraped up. I think I will go back to wiping with a cloth.  facepalm

Where in the world have you been, lady ? I thought you'd given up on fiddle.

Good that you're back.

doublekiss

 

Ken.

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Fiddlerman
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April 29, 2015 - 10:47 pm
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I just wash my fingertips. LOL
Nice topic. Wipe the fingerboard carefully with alcohol and the strings hard with a cloth, with a cork, or softly with grade #0000 steel wool.

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

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Fiddlestix
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April 29, 2015 - 11:30 pm
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I'm not a wino so I don't have a cork.... lol, j/k. But another way is to clean them with "pre-lectric" shave lotion. It cleans well, lubricates the strings and leaves a nice odor to the strings. 
My luthier is an orchestral / professional bass player and that's what he uses to clean the strings on his bass.

I'm not too sure about the #0000 steel wool, even as fine as it is it just seems kinda harsh.

But whatever works.  clap

 

Ken.

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DanielB
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April 30, 2015 - 4:59 am
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I thought "winos" would usually go for the bottles with the screw on caps.  rofl

Back to the question of the strings, you've gotten a good assortment of options to choose from, but at least most would agree it is good to clean them. 

I doubt that changing strings would fix the black marks problem, but since those are at least a year old, if might not be a bad idea to start thinking of changing them anyway, since you probably aren't getting the best sound you could with them.  You will want to watch some video tutorials on that before tackling it though.

The black marks on the fingers isn't really anything to worry about anyway.  They're nothing a little soap and water doesn't fix, as Pierre already mentioned.

I think it may  be just a body chemistry thing.  Once in a while I'll get some black marks on the fingertips from playing, but usually not, and it is the same strings and the same hands so all I can think of is maybe body chemistry being affected by food or something? 

"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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Fiddlerman
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April 30, 2015 - 6:16 am
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Daniel, The #0000 grade fine steel wool is mainly used to remove the black from the oxidized strings. It's not something that you should do too often or every day. It's done when the strings are old enough that they need freshening up.
Your strings don't need that much protection but if you scrub them too often and too hard they will eventually unwrap. If you are concerned about ugly strings you can use the steel wool but it doesn't hurt the strings to leave the oxidation there. Strings will deteriorate no matter what. I've never experienced a deterioration from using the steel wool but you would be surprised how little is needed to achieve the goal.

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

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