London, and RAB, calling …

A busy month has flown by, with London visits and a full work schedule.

The London trip was really in aid of my charity . We’ve had a huge shake up this year taking on a new Chair and saying a fond farewell to two retiring trustees. I like change, I embrace it and adapt my skills set willingly to accommodate the new pace. I’m very much looking forward to working with this new team, the energy they bring and their ideas will enable us to move with the times.

A few of us managed to squeeze in a well-deserved cheeky drink after our daylong meeting! L-R New Chair Libby Summers, Trustees Sheena Laurie, Adam Winskill, Treasurer Luke Lindforth-Delaney , Trustee Elaine Spicer

When I’m in London I always try to find time to catch up with old colleagues. On this occasion I bumped into Nigel who followed me into my old work place, world-renowned violin shop ‘J.P. Guivier’.

He has been a regular there for years and it was lovely to hear his news. His time in Poland is still spent playing jazz with his amazing band and talking to him about this I could hear the unwavering passion he still holds for this genre of music. However, he methodically starts his day with Bach and then scales and then more scales, and variations on scales. So down to earth, and of course he asked me, being in the borders, if I supported Celtic or Rangers!!! So, I had to gently introduce him to our little club here in Berwick, Berwick Rangers, who traditionally were the only English team to play in the Scottish league!

As a listener I remain faithful to his recordings when I need to hear and savour the Elgar Violin Concerto, the Brahms, the Beethoven, the Bruch and even his ‘Four Seasons’ is my first choice. Ok, you can tell, I’m a huge fan, and chewing the cud with this extraordinary man was such a pleasure. 

Image produced by kind permission of Nigel Kennedy      

Is my ‘coat’ worn? I don’t just wear it in winter!

Over the past few months, I’ve been inundated with players arriving to show me their instruments, only to discover so many violins/violas/cellos displaying a bare shoulder/top rib.  

Quite a major concern really and often gradually wearing over time and going unnoticed. The more common marks ie scratches, small bald patches, and chips are all a regular occurrence and often caused unknowingly in a normal days work for musicians. However, for your instrument all this damage really needs addressing.  

So, the varnish on your instrument should be seen as the precious ‘coat’ it wears to protect it from the rigours of daily handling.  

When the varnish is worn away (maybe where the hand sits regularly, those rib areas are especially vulnerable), the instrument is itself more vulnerable and compromised. The ribs may be as thin as 1.2mm and having bare exposed wood is not clever. The elements can affect the exposed wood, with heat and moisture from a players hand or even room/concert hall humidity leading to cracks or shrinkage more likely to occur. 

Bare rib before I restore the varnish

Finished rib

Just get in touch and let’s get it sorted. I can restore the varnish and your instruments ‘coat’ will once again be intact. Not only will the varnish look good it will be working hard to protect the wood underneath. The job it is meant for!    

Another violin with a bare shoulder in need of restoration

Layering varnish to build coats to match the colour and patina of the original varnish





1 Comment on London, and RAB, calling …

  1. Hi Judith! Very nice blog that I read for the first time I think. I wish I could show you my violin too; it’s a very los instrument in need of some attention and varnish retouching at some areas. About the shoulders of the violin: What do you think about the adhesive layer sometimes is added in order to protect the varnish? A good solution? Thanks and congratulations for your website. Luis.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.