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Smell...
I know just bear with me...
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Andy Leaves
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April 13, 2020 - 4:37 pm
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I got to thinking (try not to do that to often!) 

One of the things I miss most about the violins I was given at school to use when I first started was the smell, when you opened the case and you beheld this amazing piece of wood, hair, leather and rosin...

At the time I thought it was odd, but now looking back and remembering, I loved it, and it was one of the things I was looking forward to... 

Obviously I only started scratching (I shan't call it playing, just yet!) again about two weeks ago, but I was really hoping that the musty smell was there when I opened my new case, of course it was not...

New mass produced beginners practice instrument of ear torture...

 

Anyone else know/remember or still get that musty smell? 

Does it just come with the age of the violin, or rosin or some other form of musical sorcery?

Or do I have to wait until I've sold my soul to get a decent older piece to get to get that smell again. 

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GregW
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April 13, 2020 - 7:19 pm
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Andy,

yes I know what youre talking about.  I'll have to say since my soloist was new it had more of a chemical smell from the varnish I believe but thats long gone.  I have a couple of guitars that have a strong cedar for one and what I think is the binding inside that gives of a strong spice smell.  it could be the rosewood though.  it'll smell better than I'll ever make it sound..lol 

by the way...prepare for this topic to go places..meander 🙂  it should be good.

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Gordon Shumway
London, England
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April 14, 2020 - 4:15 am
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I use original eau de cologne (4711) to clean the rosin off my strings (see other threads about NOT getting it on your violin's varnish). I also tipped a generous amount inside my case, so it would permanently smell of it.

Andrew

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wtw
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April 14, 2020 - 4:27 am
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I particularly like the smell of fresh varnish - it took about 6 months to completely dry, pity it's long gone by now.

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Peter
West Sussex, England UK
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April 14, 2020 - 5:05 am
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My antique violin smells as it should: vaguely dusty.

When I had it open for repairs last year, I carefully brushed-out all the dust and removed the little ball of fluff which the memsahib later told me was a traditional 'good luck' item which I should have left alone. The dust has gone, but the niff remains; it's probably more to do with sheer age rather than the decades of rosin and dander which have gathered in there. The surface of the wood inside remained dirty-looking and I wondered if it could be washed, but caution prevailed and it still looks very dark in there. It has a scruffy charm, complete with faux Cuypers label and rough-and-ready ground / varnish stains from its Saxon cottage industry origin.

Yes, fresh varnish has an appeal. I gave the table of the fiddle two coats of french polish which quickly dissipated (good thing too: alcohol fumes.), so no varnish aroma for me. Just the vestige of dust.

Peter

"It is vain to do with more that which can be done with less"  - William of Ockham

"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in" - Frederick the Great

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AndrewH
Sacramento, California
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April 14, 2020 - 6:58 am
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I can't say I've ever noticed any smell (except maybe a whiff of rosin on the strings) even though my violin is almost twice my age and my viola is a bit older than me. But then my sense of smell has never been great because of terrible seasonal allergies.

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starise
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April 15, 2020 - 2:29 pm
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Interesting how smells can bring up old memories. My first serious instrument was a trumpet. Trumpets are gross. Without going into too much undesired territory I'll just say they have spit valves on them for a reason.

I remember the odd smell of the case, the smell of old brass maybe? In reality it was probably something else associated with the spit valve. One thing you could never get from a violin was the tickling effect I sometimes had when my lips buzzed in the mouth piece. Make you do a little hula dance right there on the spot.

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Peter
West Sussex, England UK
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April 15, 2020 - 3:32 pm
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Spit is a feature of all wind instruments.

When I taught boatswain's call to Sea Cadets, I made sure the cadets washed the calls before and after each practice. When I was under training myself for the qualification of piping instructor, we had a chaplain on the course who was a charming lady but had an unfortunate over-supply of saliva while playing. The sight and sound cannot be safely described, but if you can imagine a wet and dripping right elbow...

I have only two second-hand wind instruments; a wooden soprano recorder which I stripped and re-varnished, and an Aulos plastic tenor recorder which I steam-cleaned before playing for the first time.

Wind instruments are a thing of beauty, but the demon spit is forever present.

Once again, I've had to check that we're in the Breakroom.

Peter

"It is vain to do with more that which can be done with less"  - William of Ockham

"A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in" - Frederick the Great

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MrYikes
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April 16, 2020 - 9:32 am
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Yep, when I got my trumpets, trombone and horn (french horn) I took them in the shower with me,,,one at a time of course, I am not THAT weird.  I wanted a good hot and soapy stream going through them.  Afterward I spent a lot of time wiping and oiling.  I wish I had been able to do the saxophones that way,,,they were truly gross at the bow.

The violins had no smell thankfully.

I just spent a day cleaning my set of Rogers drums using Johnson paste wax and a product called Never Dull on the hardware.  The fumes from that put me in bed with a heck of a headache that was, thankfully, gone by morning.  Tuning the drums gave someone else a headache,,hee hee.

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Gordon Shumway
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April 16, 2020 - 1:02 pm
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I used to use pheasant feathers to clean the inside of my oboe. I have no idea how easy it is to get them from poulterers nowadays.

Andrew

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PaulH
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April 16, 2020 - 3:37 pm
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I remember that smell of school instruments Andy. You could smell it as soon as you entered the music room and the expectation of opening the music room cupboard and then an instrument case was magical.  None of my recent instruments have had that smell and I have never got it from friends violins, even old ones.  It took about a year for the varnish smell to fade from my new Tim Phillips and now it doesn't smell of anything really. Maybe it was something that the schools used to add to get you hooked on the habit. 🙂 I do miss it though. 

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MrYikes
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April 16, 2020 - 5:20 pm
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Gordon Shumway said
I used to use pheasant feathers to clean the inside of my oboe. I have no idea how easy it is to get them from poulterers nowadays.

  

My wife has a vase filled with pheasant feathers, so without telling her, I snitched one so that I could use it to apply almond oil to the oboe.  I do that once a year.  It did not help my playing though. 

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intrepidgirl
Bragg Creek, Alberta
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April 18, 2020 - 5:03 pm
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I am very glad there is no spit involved with violins. I got a new Cecilio cello a few years ago, and when I open the case it still has the varnish and wood smell, which I quite like. my 2 violins which are newish smell mostly of wood and rosin, I would say. I have an old old violin from France, unknown origin, and it smells of age, history, a bit of rosin, mustiness (although that was mostly from the old case). It smells, and feels, so nice. 

I did ballet dancing as a teenager and revisited as an adult a bit. The shoes and stuff have a smell - leather, a bit of sweat, rosin, it is great. I recognize that smell. 

Smells can be related so much to memories. 

@MrYikes If she reads this, she will be on to you! 

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
April 21, 2020 - 2:01 pm
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Andy, I remember the smell. LOL

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

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Andy Leaves
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April 22, 2020 - 9:07 am
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I'm so pleased it wasn't just me... 

Thought I might be losing my mind... 

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Fiddlerman
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April 23, 2020 - 3:57 pm
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You and me both. LOL

Might have been because I grew up in Florida. Could be the humidities effect on the instrument/case....

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

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