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Scratches
How much is too much?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (2 votes) 
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Strabo
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February 21, 2024 - 6:16 am
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Recently I noticed some small scratches on the back of my favorite fiddle. They are certainly due to my setting the fiddle down on the table.

I don’t always have a nice soft pad or cloth on the table when I’m working on something, so the fiddle gets put directly on the table. I lay it on its back. (I certainly do not want to stand it up on its side, balanced on the edges of the plates, like they do in the fancy violin shop -- it could just as easily fall over onto the bridge. That would be a real problem.)

And I have seen old paintings of the medieval villagers carousing and having fun, with someone’s fiddle laying on the table. So I figure that it must be OK. 

I think of my fiddle, not as some sort of museum treasure that needs to be carefully preserved for the ages, but more as a tool (an instrument!). And like any tool, my fav fiddle picks up little signs of wear and tear. 

But I ask myself: How much is too much?

Maybe I should really be more careful, less impulsive. Maybe I should be more respectful of this wonderful instrument that I am privileged to own and play. Maybe I should even keep that violin safely in its case except when it gets to come out and play. 

Dunno if others here have similar issues. Can it be that I’m the outlier, that all my fiddler friends have instruments that are quite pristine? Or do everyone else’s fiddles also have little dings?

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Mark
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February 21, 2024 - 7:50 am
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Strabo

My 140+ year old fiddle has lots of boo boo's on it, ads character to it.

Mark

Master the Frog and you have mastered the bow.

Albert Sammons

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Mouse
February 21, 2024 - 8:31 am
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I like scratches. It shows lovingly used. It shows character. I think scratched up violins, violas and cellos are much more interesting, and inviting and have so much character. Years after you are done with it and it is in someone else's hand, they will make up stories or be curious about it. 

🐭

The Bumblebee Flies!

Please ignore any typos. My typing ability on a real typewriter did not transfer to these device key pads.

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ABitRusty
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February 21, 2024 - 11:35 am
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i keep mine out on a violin stand.   i put bows in a cheap bow case when done for the night.   If im in the kitchen ill also sit it on the table if needing to do something else for a bit.  i dont leave it there overnight though or all day while out doing other things.  if that..its on its stand in my playroom.

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ELCBK
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February 21, 2024 - 3:55 pm
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It has been said, that as we age, we don't become wiser - just more cautious!  

Not usually worried about the back, because anything I've been playing & set down is propped up by the shoulder rest. 

Instruments, that I'm not currently playing, rest in a case.  The finish on my 2 glossy CF violins is pretty indestructible, so I'm more concerned with the matte finish on my CF Viola - matte finishes can scratch more easily and polishing would ruin it.  Still, it's not unusual to see my current favorite parked next to me on my bed with a dishtowel thrown over it AND my bow.  Not so worried about dust & cat hair as I am the temptation for my cats to smear/rub their 'love' over the bouts & scroll of my violins/viola - seems irresistible to them.  ...but the thought of a cat-butt sitting on my bow... 😨😱😬😖  

If you know what type of varnish/polyurethane originally used, a scuffed area can be retouched.  BUT, if I had a pristine (like new) instrument, I'd pay a professional to retouch it.  If my violin was already full of character, I'd need to determine just how bad the surface was damaged, if I needed to reseal the wood surface. 

Repairing/Touching Up Polyurethane Varnish On Violins (Maestronet) 

Iris Violin Restoration - YT Channel.  She shows retouching varnish.  

Now, 'if' I was more mobile - I would hang the instruments I play regularly, on the wall. 

...seen folks who make/sell violin/viola/cello 'bags' - even silk, a luxuriant idea.

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ABitRusty
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February 21, 2024 - 6:51 pm
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also forgot to say... little dings and scratches and worn varnish doesnt bother me.  and evidently we arent alone there.  why would violin manufacturers be making violins to mimic old antiques?   even guitar makers are doing that now.   relic versions of famous models.. acoustic guitars with names like streetmaster that look like theyve been played forever to a point varnish is worn.  I prefer the worn look or antiqued varnish over a prestine shiny varnish look on violin..banjo... on guitar a tossup.  i think i prefer less scratches and dings on them.   go figure... no rhyme or reason to my madness .

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AndrewH
Sacramento, California
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February 21, 2024 - 7:31 pm
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My violin is about 70 years old and I've been playing it for 24 years, my viola is 45 years old and I've been playing it for 18 years. Both have lots of little dings and scratches, some of which already existed and some of which were from my own use. I'm very cautious with both instruments and they always go back into closed cases when they're not in my hands, even if I'm just putting them down for a few minutes. But scratches are unavoidable if you use the same instrument for long enough. Some varnish wear may also be unavoidable -- for example, for classical players, the varnish will eventually wear off the edge at the right side of the upper bout, because playing high up the fingerboard always involves contact with the edge.

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Gordon Shumway
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February 22, 2024 - 2:38 am
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Aka battle scars. While working on a violin I'd recommend a towel or something under it. Pierre uses one in a video that is half rolled up to support the neck. If you want to leave one on a table, then a table cloth is a good idea.

More than once I've noticed a line of scars along a violin like the splashes of a pebble skimmed across a pond, or like a map of Hawaii. I know how that happens - once myself when beginning I accidentally dropped the bow on the violin and saw the button bounce along the top.

Andrew

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Strabo
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February 22, 2024 - 5:10 am
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Ah yes, the shoulder rest — I haven’t used one in so long that I forgot that it does protect the back of the fiddle. 

Here’s a funny thing about the “starter” violin that was given to me, and got me started on all of this. It was a rental instrument, built to withstand the abuses of school kids. After several years of use, that thing shows NO scratches or dings — nothing, nada. The people who built that violin knew exactly how to make instruments for the school market. I figure that that must have varnished it with a nice thick coat of Impervium, haha.

I have one other violin, another German trade fiddle from the turn of the century. Its top plate has areas that are quite dark, almost black. Royce Burt, who rebuilt and regraduated this instrument, told me that he has seen several of these old fiddles with similar blackening, but he has no idea of how they got that way. I bought it for its tone, and didn’t give much thought to its cosmetics until later on. But now that I’m thinking about battle scars, I wonder where that fiddle went and what it experienced to give its face those rich black colors…

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Sasha
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February 22, 2024 - 6:08 pm
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All my instruments have dings, scratches, etc on them. If they don't have any, I am not playing them, and end up selling them. I kind of keep that in mind when I am looking at used instruments too. If it is in pristine shape, my first thought is wondering why it was never played.

At least I haven't seen people talking about that poser 'relicing' stuff that happens in the guitar world. You want a reliced instrument? Play it. Sweat on it. Bleed on it. And when it's become a proper relic, you may even end up knowing how to play it. :)

I know, it's a little off topic from where you intended. I don't think instruments need to be beat on and abused, but any well played instrument is going to have a scratch or ding.

The first ding is always the hardest. But those are also the ones you usually remember. :)

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ABitRusty
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February 22, 2024 - 10:22 pm
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yeah the relic guitars seem..idk..fake.  and are they all relic'd different?  if not then kinda weird to showup with one and 2 others have the same.  🤣

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