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Review: Italian Violin Varnishes by George Fry

Review: Italian Violin Varnishes by George Fry

Reviewed by George Manno

Originally published in American Lutherie #7, 1986 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume One, 2000

Italian Violin Varnishes
George Fry
Virtuoso Publishers, 1981
Out of print (1999)

Any book on making violin varnish, I buy. Halfway through most, I find my money would have been better spent elsewhere. Not so with this well-written conglomeration of facts, recipes, and chemical analyses.

A novice with a little experience in varnish making will be able to understand Mr. Fry’s sometimes complex theories. Mr. Fry goes into great detail explaining each and every experiment he made to obtain color, transparency, and consistency of the varnish he thought to be used 250 years ago by the great Italian masters. Unfortunately, some of the materials used in Fry’s experiments are more scarce now than when the book was first published in 1901.

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