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Letter: Cleaning/Polishing of Violins

Letter: Cleaning/Polishing of Violins

by William T. Walls

Originally published in American Lutherie #12, 1987 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume One, 2000

Dear Guild Members,

Reference is made to George Manno’s “Violin Q&A” regarding cleaning and polishing violins. I have been making, repairing, and restoring bowed instruments professionally for over fifty years and would like to offer my 2¢ worth.

I strongly recommend that xylene and similar products for cleaning caked-on rosin be used with extreme caution, as some varnishes will dissolve or become tacky when wet with them. Test them in a small place in an area that will not be noticed if the varnish is susceptible to damage. If it appears that xylene is safe, rubbing with a cloth may require a lot of rubbing, and a lot of rubbing may damage the varnish. I have found the following to be completely safe, effective, and fast for any instrument regardless of how bad the rosin build-up is.

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