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Violin Q & A: Lightfast Colors

Violin Q & A: Lightfast Colors

by George Manno

Originally published in American Lutherie #11, 1987 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume One, 2000


I’ve been using water colors for touchups and repairs in the last five years, but some of the colors are starting to fade out on the older repairs. I use Pelikan transparent watercolors #725. What else can I try?

I have used many different types of color over the years with varying degrees of success. As you are finding, knowing how a color will fade is as important as color matching at the time of touchup. The only colors I use now are analine dyes I purchase from Horn & Son String Instruments, Inc. (2570 Superior Ave, Cleveland, OH 44114). They have powdered colors for spirit and oil and I find them to be extremely true. With yellow, red, and brown, you can match just about anything. In the last five years I’ve had no problems whatsoever. A word of caution: Fluorescent lighting tends to fade any color. Be advised that analine dyes are carcinogenic.