Dare to Think!

Violin/Cello Touch-Ups


Monday, February 23rd, 2015
Informative series of posts from my entry at: Violin Makers and Luthiers/Blog at LinkedIn:

Violin & Cello Touch-up

Alex GuthExpert Luthier in Brooklyn with easy access by subway/bus/car; CEO of AZG Musical IncTop Contributor

Not many professionals will want to share this information but I would like to ask it any way.

I am looking for fast and inexpensive ways of fixing up nicks, scratches and dents on violin/cello bodies. I have committed myself on line to do a basic restoration for $10 only. This includes cleaning the surface and retouching of damaged areas. I have been applying StewMac’s color stains plus International Violin’s Violin Cleaner-Polish to do the job quickly. Does any one have any other quick methods of doing this economically ?

My promo can be viewed at
http://www.azgmusical.com/Basic-Restoration-of-Violin-Cello-Guitar-Basic-Restoration.htm .

Basic Restoration of Violin/Cello/Guitar azgmusical.com

Limited Time Offer: (In-Store only) Restore your string instrument to like new condition by our inhouse expert Luthiers for the low one time price of only $9.99. Normal price is $60 per hour. We will clean your tops and backs as well as basic…
Juan Manuel Sanchez Aristizabal likes this

19 comments Jump to most recent comment

Mat

Mat Roop

President at Rezx Inc. Providing restoration and repair services for instruments and bows of the violin family

“like new condition”… really? for $10…. really? clean & polish maybe.
My guess is you may end up with unhappy clients… My philosophy is under promise and over deliver.
In any case, what works well for student violins is using a mix & match of touchup markers such as http://www.richelieu.com/ca/en/category/finishing-products-and-shop-supplies/finishing-products/mohawk-finishing-products/touch-ups-and-wood-fillers/touch-up-markers/ultramark-touch-up-markers/1018984
I also use a violin varnish rub that is like a polish but more substantial and effective… rub down the violin with an oil based violin varnish, then immediately rub off COMPLETELY … this will leave a microfilm of varnish and make the dings and dents less visible. Do not do the entire violin at once as the varnish will be drying and if too dry it will leave a too thick coat… do max 1/2 plate at a time. Let dry overnight and then set up.
Cheers, Mat

Jackie Sparrow likes this

Alex Guth

Expert Luthier in Brooklyn with easy access by subway/bus/car; CEO of AZG Musical Inc

Top Contributor

Thanks Mat!
What I do for $10 is first clean the instrument front, back and fingerboard. Then I touch up lightly nicks and dents with liquid stain and some type of lacquer. I play around with micro-brushes to get shades.
If it needs more work than that, I will pass. It can take up to 2 hours. It is a lead in to other work needed on seams, pegs and bridges. I need to put something out on the net to bring in google customers. Right now it’s slow so I can afford doing it.

Alex Guth

Expert Luthier in Brooklyn with easy access by subway/bus/car; CEO of AZG Musical Inc

Top Contributor

Mat:
What do you think of the StewMac touch-up markers? The clear and the vintage amber?

Thierry-Antoine

Thierry-Antoine Woirgard

OLPS India Operations Manager at Orange

Hello Alex,

I cannot find the description of the Stewmac cleaner you mentioned (unfound on Stewmac.com). What I use to clean a violin is (I use different brands) a water based liquid containing tripoli powder. This is the safest for violins & bows, recommended by all luthiers in France. Personally (now against the opinion of most luthiers), when the instrument is VERY dirty, I use a humidified (with warm (30°C) water) wash cloth that I rub a little on a Marseille soap (traditional (and cheap) soap) before rubbing the instrument all around. It is important to make sure that it does not drop at all. When you have rubbed the whole surface (Do not forget the fingerboard on which you can spend more time) than you do the same without soap and you can then finish with your varnish polish.
Anything that contains petrol, oil, paraffin should be avoided because it can bring more problems than solution (greasy stuff that you get troubles to remove). What I use is for example :http://www.stringplayercentral.com/Luthier-Cleaning-Liquid-p/luthier-cleaning-liquid.htm (Be careful : the price on this site is twice what I pay it, there must be other places and also other equivalent stuff at a better price)

More important : I guess that many people would come also with a very common problem on violins & other members of the violin familly : unglued parts of table/bottom.
It is something easy to fix but you should mention the limitations of your offer not to be overwhelmed by impossible requests from funny customers… :0)
A good alternative to hide glue (in fact luthiers use a mix of hide and bone glue) is fish glue. (no need to heat it and it can be undone the same way than for hide glue.
To use a bad pun, I prefer no hide, so that I find it whenever I need :0) )

Best regards,

Thierry-Antoine

Rodger

Rodger Stearns

Owner, Stearns Violins, Inc

Alex,
If you are only doing this kind of amateur retouch on student grade violins, you can’t do too much damage, but my concern is that you may try retouch markers, or the oil varnish technique on something of value, and really mess something up. You need to attend some violin restoration workshops, or spend some time with a retouch expert so you understand how to approach this kind of repair.
Also, if you give your work away for $10.00 your customers will think that is what your work is worth. That kind of marketing is almost always counter productive. I don’t really want to sound all negative, but you don’t need to devalue your work to build your business.
In regard to Stewart McDonald retouch supplies – they are ok for lacquer finishes, and low grade student violins. High grade violins require an entirely different approach.

Simon DalyThierry-Antoine W. like this

Alex Guth

Expert Luthier in Brooklyn with easy access by subway/bus/car; CEO of AZG Musical Inc

Top Contributor

I am trying for low grade violins only. I am looking for something to attract more student players.

Rodger

Rodger Stearns

Owner, Stearns Violins, Inc

Some of the Stewart McDonald tips on the ues of Hot Stuff ( super glue) for finish repair works very well on chipped lacquer on student violins.

Mat

Mat Roop

President at Rezx Inc. Providing restoration and repair services for instruments and bows of the violin family

re the Stewmac markers… not nearly enough colour choices. I have about a dozen colour varieties and then, before use, I lay the nearest guess on a piece of similar wood then do an actual colour comparison and often I will layer different colours to get to where I want… Reminder though… this is for student grade violins only!
ps… if the wood is bare I seal it first with violin varnish so that the marker colour will not bleed into the wood and the marker can be undone if necessary.

Anton

Anton Lehman

Luthier owner Anton’s Musical Instrument Repair

I haven’t used Stew macs touchup pencils or hot stuff glue but the touchups are probably nitro and the glue is cyanoacrylate both will soften a varnish or true nitrocellulose finish. I used to do inexpensive touchups but after they costed me much more don’t do them anymore. When a 10 dollar repair cost you 50 you will decide that extra work isn’t worth it. The pens that I buy from different manufactures/suppliers are prone to drip which then is a repair I have to pay for, So do be careful is my advice

Mat

Mat Roop

President at Rezx Inc. Providing restoration and repair services for instruments and bows of the violin family

Anton, yes, the marker tips can be overly wet, but if stored with the cap end up, they stay just nicely damp enough for touchups…. ever had one leak though. also, when applying the marker, it is important to blend it in so as not to get a sharp colour edge… I just use my fingers for that… sometimes a light smudge, sometimes a hard rub, just all depends… Mat

Mat

Mat Roop

President at Rezx Inc. Providing restoration and repair services for instruments and bows of the violin family

sorry, typo above… meant to say, … never had one leak…… Mat

Alex Guth

Expert Luthier in Brooklyn with easy access by subway/bus/car; CEO of AZG Musical Inc

Top Contributor

Thanks to every one who shared tips. Great help!

Rodger

Rodger Stearns

Owner, Stearns Violins, Inc

We use Transtint dyes (available from Woodcraft Supply) on a color board to match colors. We let them dry on the color board, and because they are soluable in alchohol, we can use a retouch brush with Everclear to mix any color we need to match exactly. These colors also can be mixed with any finishing material – varnish, spirit varnish, lacquer, etc. Transtint Dyes are light fast, and quite transparent.

Denny

Denny Wise

SALES MANAGER at INTERNATIONAL VIOLIN

I love that you use our polish. We sell two types of varnish markers/brushes that do a great job on small touch up jobs. Yes please make sure to seal the wood. Its nice that you are taking care of student instruments. We have a book called The Art of Violin Retouching by Brian Epp. He does a great job showing you step by step easy to understand instructions. I talk to so many people that do not have the money to spend on a simple cleaning and touch up. Schools do not have the budget they had ten years ago as well. Mr Stearns is well known and does great work. I would take his advise any day as well.

Rodger Stearns likes this

Anton

Anton Lehman

Luthier owner Anton’s Musical Instrument Repair

That book is very good

Alex Guth

Expert Luthier in Brooklyn with easy access by subway/bus/car; CEO of AZG Musical Inc

Top Contributor

Denny Wise:
I also bought The Art of Violin Retouching by Brian Epp from Int-Vln. The procedures in that book is for more than simple touch-ups I need to know which markers to get and will they work on spirit varnish and nitro varnish?
BTW: You have great products and service for the average luthier.

Anton

Anton Lehman

Luthier owner Anton’s Musical Instrument Repair

I have a similar way of doing things to Rodger using palettes and dissolving when ready to apply. There is a book by Bob Flexner called Understanding finishes ? I think close and it will help you how to test each finish for its base content and what can be used to touch up . Unfortunatly finish touch up is harder than most people realize to do it well and having a deep understanding

Anton

Anton Lehman

Luthier owner Anton’s Musical Instrument Repair

of the whole process helps with the little dings. The touch up book will teach you the process in depth making a touchup simpler to achieve great results. Good luck

Denny

Denny Wise

SALES MANAGER at INTERNATIONAL VIOLIN

My felt and brush tip varnish markers will go over spirit and work very well. If you go to our wed site you can see the colors. Thank very much Alex. We do try to help out as much as we can.

 

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