The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #138517 Message #3170301
Posted By: JohnInKansas
14-Jun-11 - 04:14 AM
Thread Name: How to clean resin off fiddle strings
Subject: RE: How to clean resin off fiddle strings
The resin/rosin should be very easily dissolved by ordinary rubbing alcohol, so wiping them down with a cloth or "cotton ball" slightly dampened with alcohol should remove any excess quite easily. In my area, a "60%" rubbing alcohol is most common, although many pharmacies also stock a "90%" that seems to me to have slightly less "residue" (after-taste?) when used for cleaning stuff.
Be aware though, that most finishes used on fiddles are also extremely easily dissolved by alcohol, so any spills, or even just brushing the dampened cloth on the finish, may cause an undesirable blemish. Using alcohol to remove resin buildup on the fiddle is generally not something to be recommended without prior serious discussion with your favorite luthier.
If the buildup on the strings is really heavy, you might want to remove the strings from the fiddle for cleaning. I'm sure you're aware of the recommended "one-at-a-time" method for changing strings, so that you don't displace the bridge or drop the sound post.
Actually, if the buildup is heavy enough to merit removal of the strings for cleaning, it might be time to consider a new set of (clean) strings.
Since I'm not a "practicing fiddler" it might be a good idea to wait for a few comments from others, to get the full flavor of the variety of opinions available. My casual observation is that there is some disagreement on the subject.
Someone might also be able to recommend a favorite rosin that is less prone to buildup, although I think it's a pretty normal condition. I have seen recommendationts that you need a soft cloth in your case to always wipe the dust off the strings at the end of each playing session to avoid having the residue "harden" and build up on them.