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How to varnish your Cello?

May 17, 2019

 

Varnish is like the living skin of an instrument and is an integral part of its structure and identity. It protects the wood from moisture, abrasion and dirt and so needs to be treated with care and respect. Handle your cello by the neck wherever possible to avoid touching the varnish. Every time you touch your varnish, a little varnish is removed and a little dirt is deposited. Get your varnish re-touched if it is wearing through. Certain areas of the cello are subjected to heavy wear, particularly the shoulder on the treble side and the edgework on the cello front where the cello rests on the floor. If your varnish is wearing thin in these places it is important to have it re-touched before the unprotected areas of wood are damaged or begin to wear away. Don’t worry about small scratches. Don’t be tempted to try to camouflage scratches yourself as this may compromise subsequent re-touching by a luthier. Small scratches will gradually become obscured by dirt which can easily be removed if you wish to have them re-touched. Benign neglect is better than polish. It is best to clean varnish with a soft dry duster and avoid using commercial polishes, most of which either remove original varnish or leave a permanent residue on the instrument which will build up over the years. If your cello is intolerably sticky or dirty, a skilled luthier will make a careful and informed job of cleaning it for you. If you can’t resist polishing your cello, we produce a safe, reversible polish which can easily be removed by a luthier and will not damage your varnish.

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