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Black fingertips
Black fingertips
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (7 votes) 
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Strabo
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October 31, 2021 - 9:47 am
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I searched the forum and did not find this issue addressed. I probably didn't search for the right terms...

Anyway, I notice that my fingertips develop black marks when I play. I have heard of this with other instruments so I presume there is a chemical reaction with the strings. But I have never had black fingertips from playing guitar or mandolin, so I wonder why I'm getting this reaction with my violin. 

I'm using Pro Arte strings, mainly because I don't know any better. Violin strings are of course vastly more expensive than guitar or mando, so experimenting with different strings is more financially challenging. Also, I don't think my tone is consistent enough yet for me to make an informed choice of strings.

I have read of people getting black fingertips from various kinds of violin strings, so I figure that there may be no magic bullet to fix this. And I am able to wash my hands whenever I want; it's definitely not a life threatening problem. 

But I'm left with the question: Why am I getting black fingertips from fiddle and not from other stringed instruments?

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ELCBK
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October 31, 2021 - 10:42 am
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@Strabo -

ALL Violin strings are NOT made from the same metal alloys - even when bought in a 'set'. 

Do you use any hand lotion?  That can be a culprit. 

Otherwise, can you tell if certain strings are worse?  Find what metal is used for it/them. 

I used to have a horrendous problem with aluminum, using an X-acto blade holder.  So, I try to avoid Aluminum-wound strings, but there are quite a few aluminum alloys & can all react differently.  

 

 

- Emily

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Mouse
October 31, 2021 - 11:47 am
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I am probably way off, and going out on a limb here. But, what kind of violin are you using? Does it have a true ebony finger board, or is it a non-ebony dyed or painted black. If it is the latter, that may be the issue of the black fingers. Just a thought.

The Bumblebee Flies!

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ELCBK
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October 31, 2021 - 2:52 pm
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@Mouse -

That's a GREAT possibility - Strabo did mention he was given a student violin. 

I had forgotten that stained/painted fingerboards even existed! 🎃

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stringy
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October 31, 2021 - 4:03 pm
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Not sure about the fingerboard, it is possible, but I havw heard that its just a reaction to the metal, I always had black fingers from my guitar playing days, I always thought it was just dirt from the strings. I know that my strings leave a white deposit on the fingerboard underneath the string

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×?@?#?@

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Mouse
October 31, 2021 - 4:11 pm
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I used to get a dark grayish on my fingers from guitar strings, but not black. I also do not press as hard on the fingerboard with my violin as my guitar. It may be my ineptness in playing both, but I am not sure the violin strings would do this. The guitar has a lot more sliding, etc than a violin when played, especially by beginners. 

I have tested out a lot of different sets and brands of violin strings and never got any discoloration on my fingers, and have always used violins with true ebony fingerboards.  

Just my thinking. I could be way off-base, but that is my thinking since the OP said black fingertips, not dark gray or whatever color you get from strings, which is not black, at least based on my guitar strings discoloring my fingers. That was gray.

The fingerboard may look like ebony, but it could just be painted with black paint, like many student level violins.

The Bumblebee Flies!

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stringy
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October 31, 2021 - 4:28 pm
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You may be right mouse, I honestly dont know, but my fingertips from guitar were black it was a black line like if you ran a pencil across them, saying that though I used my strings on guitar over and over and when they became too bad I used to boil them and they were like new for a while anyway, lost a bit of tension but not much, pity you cant do that with fiddle stings, lol money was tight back then, quite easy to tell if a fingerboard isnt ebony just look underneath it its fairly obvious when it has been dyed, then again most ebony is dyed anyway.

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×?@?#?@

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stringy
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October 31, 2021 - 4:31 pm
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Just found this it appears we all may be correct

https://midlifeguitar.com/why-.....ng-guitar/

Bit more, bit more, snap #*÷?×?@?#?@

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Mouse
October 31, 2021 - 4:32 pm
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It will be interesting to find out, @stringy. Maybe, I finally got one right? I usually think in a different direction than others. 😁

The Bumblebee Flies!

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ABitRusty
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October 31, 2021 - 6:57 pm
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both of my bought new violins had some of this happen.  Eventually with playing and time i havent noticed it on fingertips.

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Mouse
October 31, 2021 - 7:35 pm
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Maybe a reaction of your skin to the fingerboard, whether ebony, stained or painted of any wood type? Maybe a coating that has not worn off?

The Bumblebee Flies!

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Strabo
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October 31, 2021 - 7:47 pm
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Good comments, thank you. I'm guessing now that it's the fingerboard. My fiddle is the base instrument that is handed out to school students, most of whom will play for a while and then desist. 

The purfling on this violin is painted on -- that should dell us something. 

But the setup is OK and it's not difficult to play. At this point, the limiting factor is still the operator, not the machine. I'm working hard to get to the point where my skills exceed the limits of the instrument. 

Reminds me of when I was learning to drive sports cars on racetracks. It took me an entire year to build my skills to where I could outdrive the car. By then, I knew enough to manage equipment upgrades,

Many thanks for your knowledgeable comments.

Strabo

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Mouse
October 31, 2021 - 8:47 pm
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Yep, painted on purfling does tell you something, from what I have found. 

Maybe the blacking issue will just settle down after a while. 

The Bumblebee Flies!

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ABitRusty
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October 31, 2021 - 10:02 pm
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"Reminds me of when I was learning to drive sports cars on racetracks. It took me an entire year to build my skills to where I could outdrive the car. By then, I knew enough to manage equipment upgrades,"

WAIT...lol..

you cant just drop cool stuff like that and move on.. are we talking stock or sprint type cars.   kinda neat there @Strabo.

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Mark
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November 1, 2021 - 12:20 am
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Hahaha, I agree with abitrusty there Strabo,

I think you have some explaining to do. dancing

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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RDP
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November 3, 2021 - 7:08 pm
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Strabo said

Reminds me of when I was learning to drive sports cars on racetracks. It took me an entire year to build my skills to where I could outdrive the car. By then, I knew enough to manage equipment upgrades,

  

I'm hoping it takes less than a year before you're "outdriving" the violin.

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Gordon Shumway
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November 4, 2021 - 8:34 am
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RDP said

Strabo said

Reminds me of when I was learning to drive sports cars on racetracks. It took me an entire year to build my skills to where I could outdrive the car. By then, I knew enough to manage equipment upgrades,

  

I'm hoping it takes less than a year before you're "outdriving" the violin.

  

I've had 3 violins in 3 years.

Black fingertips? Could be silver from silver-wound strings, or it could be paint from a faux-ebony fingerboard.

Andrew

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ncwclark
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November 4, 2021 - 1:04 pm
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ELCBK said
@Strabo -

ALL Violin strings are NOT made from the same metal alloys - even when bought in a 'set'. 

Do you use any hand lotion?  That can be a culprit. 

Otherwise, can you tell if certain strings are worse?  Find what metal is used for it/them. 

I used to have a horrendous problem with aluminum, using an X-acto blade holder.  So, I try to avoid Aluminum-wound strings, but there are quite a few aluminum alloys & can all react differently.  

 

 

- Emily

  

I had never associated the discoloration with aluminum. I always thought it was tarnish from the silver wrapped strings. Thanks for the insight!

"One must always practice slowly. If you learn something slowly, you forget it slowly."

 
–Itzhak Perlman
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ELCBK
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November 4, 2021 - 2:26 pm
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@newclark -

Everyone's body chemistry is different. 

My mother used to have have reactions to metals that I didn't. 

That said, with all the different brand name strings I've tried so far, none of the metals have bothered me - silver, aluminum alloys and sometimes I see a little tarnish on my steel E string (Pirastro Gold Label), but it hasn't done anything to my fingers. 

Basically, everything is an alloy now-a-days & I'm sure they take extra care to weed out problem ones in the well known brands - may be more issues with cheaper strings.

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