Little things can make a long term difference

January 2022: ‘Dreary’ January has nearly left us and its time to look forward to 2022 with, hopefully, a little more clarity combined with freedom than we’ve had over the past 2 years!

It’s probably also time to take a long hard look at your lovely instrument. In the last couple of months I’ve seen players coming in desiring their instrument to look a little tidier, cleaner, and maybe asking me about applying some varnish where wear is happening more frequently.

Here the dirt is clearly visible on the end of this fingerboard although it is mostly excess rosin. The front is in need of a clean as the rosin can overwhelm the varnish, and the varnish is soft and picking up other dirt. The strings are also visibly manky and I would usually clean them and if they can’t be redeemed then I’ll suggest a new set or string trials!

Here is the violin and fingerboard with cleaning almost finished (still ‘f’ hole edges left to clean) and the strings couldn’t be saved, so new strings.

And I think quietly to myself what a pleasure it is to see players really understanding how little things like this can make a difference long term.

A touch of cleaning, a light application of varnish, maybe just applying some clear on the bare top ribs, will serve the instrument well. It offers longevity by protecting and also enables you to feel good about doing the best by it.

After all, when you demand your instrument to work hard for you I bet it does, and yet it asks for nothing in return!

There is a visible line of dirt here where a little soft varnish is picking up dirt and dust and is being manipulated by body and hand heat as the player sits with the violin held, on the lap, by the left hand. The rib was almost bear of varnish.

I have varnished the rib but not brought the colour up too much to offer continuity with the rest of the look of the violin. Bare patches are gone and the rib is now protected.

2022 could be about you embracing your instrument and bow, not only getting to know them by sound but also by sight!

I often say to players that it’s my job to look after their instrument and it’s their job to tell the story of the music they’re playing; trying to convey the composers thoughts, little black dots on lines, to an eager, keen receptive audience.

But if each time you allow your eyes to run over the instrument as you’re taking it out of the case, or putting it away, you will become more aware of its appearance and any subtle changes.

You may also fall in love all over again, admiring the depth of colour in the varnish or smiling at how the head appears as if it wants to draw you in for a conversation! All so intriguing.

These instruments are amazing, and deserve to be well looked after. So, if you have a niggle about something, sound or sight! don’t hesitate to get in touch. It may be nothing or it may turn out to be an issue that cannot be left any longer. There is no harm in making an appointment and us taking a look together.

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