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How to clean resin off fiddle strings

Jane of 'ull 14 Jun 11 - 03:28 AM
JohnInKansas 14 Jun 11 - 04:14 AM
davyr 14 Jun 11 - 04:42 AM
Bernard 14 Jun 11 - 05:13 AM
GUEST,Jane Ann Liston 14 Jun 11 - 08:34 AM
GUEST,leeneia 14 Jun 11 - 08:46 AM
GUEST,norman K jensen 14 Jun 11 - 11:28 AM
Jeri 14 Jun 11 - 12:05 PM
GUEST,Songbob 14 Jun 11 - 02:28 PM
GUEST,FloraG 14 Jun 11 - 02:46 PM
Bernard 14 Jun 11 - 02:50 PM
Jane of 'ull 14 Jun 11 - 02:52 PM
Dave the Gnome 14 Jun 11 - 03:05 PM
Gurney 14 Jun 11 - 04:24 PM
JohnInKansas 14 Jun 11 - 06:04 PM
Gurney 15 Jun 11 - 01:55 AM
Bernard 15 Jun 11 - 05:59 AM
JohnInKansas 15 Jun 11 - 07:06 AM
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Subject: How to clean resin off fiddle strings
From: Jane of 'ull
Date: 14 Jun 11 - 03:28 AM

I've got residual resin on my fiddle strings and it's being a bit stubborn to come off, can anyone recommend how best to remove it please?


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Subject: RE: How to clean resin off fiddle strings
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 14 Jun 11 - 04:14 AM

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.

John


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Subject: RE: How to clean resin off fiddle strings
From: davyr
Date: 14 Jun 11 - 04:42 AM

I use a wine bottle cork to remove rosin dust from my fiddle strings and it seems to work fine.

I do it regularly though, so I don't know how effective it would be on a serious rosin build-up.


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Subject: RE: How to clean resin off fiddle strings
From: Bernard
Date: 14 Jun 11 - 05:13 AM

New strings?!


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Subject: RE: How to clean resin off fiddle strings
From: GUEST,Jane Ann Liston
Date: 14 Jun 11 - 08:34 AM

I have used cheap perfume!


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Subject: RE: How to clean resin off fiddle strings
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 14 Jun 11 - 08:46 AM

Why not look up the people who made your rosin and ask their Customer Service people the best way?


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Subject: RE: How to clean resin off fiddle strings
From: GUEST,norman K jensen
Date: 14 Jun 11 - 11:28 AM

John in Kansas has it right, especially the part about NOT getting alcohol on the fiddle itself.


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Subject: RE: How to clean resin off fiddle strings
From: Jeri
Date: 14 Jun 11 - 12:05 PM

As a fiddler, John in Kansas nailed it.
I've done it myself, and without his caution about not getting the alcohol on the fiddle, managed to remove a lot of rosin from that... and a few layers of varnish. Might not be a bad idea to put something on the surface of the fiddle before you start.

I also cleaned my bow off after somebody spilled dinner-related materials, including oil, on it. You can use a whole cake of rosin, but if there's oil on your bow hair, it ain't gonna work!


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Subject: RE: How to clean resin off fiddle strings
From: GUEST,Songbob
Date: 14 Jun 11 - 02:28 PM

Not all finishes are alcohol-soluble. Varnish is not, for instance. However, if you're nor sure what was used on your instrument, then caution is the watchword.

Bob


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Subject: RE: How to clean resin off fiddle strings
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 14 Jun 11 - 02:46 PM

Are you using too much rosin in the first place? You do not need to use it each time you play.
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: How to clean resin off fiddle strings
From: Bernard
Date: 14 Jun 11 - 02:50 PM

GUEST,Jane Ann Liston... so I've heard, but I thought it was just a malicious rumour!


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Subject: RE: How to clean resin off fiddle strings
From: Jane of 'ull
Date: 14 Jun 11 - 02:52 PM

FloraG - maybe I am using too much rosin, I do put it on each time I practice. Oops. Mistake? I don't know many other fiddle players and am not that experienced really.


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Subject: RE: How to clean resin off fiddle strings
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 Jun 11 - 03:05 PM

Hey, just smoke it, man!

Dave the sixties Gnome.


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Subject: RE: How to clean resin off fiddle strings
From: Gurney
Date: 14 Jun 11 - 04:24 PM

Wrong resin, Dave. This one might give you a lovely finish. ;-)

The English equivalent of rubbing alcohol is methylated spirits, or more expensive cleaning alcohols from a pharmacist.

The warnings about keeping alcohol off the 'varnish' are well founded. Good instruments are not varnished, but lacquered, and lacquer is resins dissolved in alcohol.


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Subject: RE: How to clean resin off fiddle strings
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 14 Jun 11 - 06:04 PM

There's a very vague line between lacquers and varnishes, that varies with which industry you're involved with and which salesman you're talking to. In some contexts, varnishes are finishes intended to "soak in" and lacquers are intended to make a "layer on top." In other contexts it's just the opposite. Traditional recipes for both consisted of resins and gums dissolved/softened in oils and a solvent, and older versions of both quite frequently used alcohol as the solvent.

Either kind of finish - of "traditional kind" - can be dissolved, or at least softened to the extent of making a "blemish" in the finish, by alcohol and by a number of other "cleaners."

"Modern versions" of both are available that incorporate synthetic "polymers" that (in theory - or sometimes just in the advertising) react chemically when applied to make a more resistant finish. "Harder" finishes are often used on other instruments, but fiddlers tend to be more "tradition-bound" and it is much more likely that fiddle finishes will be readily soluble (and removable) with alcohol.

On the question of rosin on the bow (in this case nothing to do with "Rosin the Beau") my limited experience indicates that with a new or newly-haired bow it's difficult to get the bow to "pick up" enough rosin, until suddenly there's "too much rosin." I have great admiration for those who seemingly always have "just the right amount," and perhaps with enough practice I might eventually achieve that blissful state, but - as previously stated - I'm a non-practicing fiddler - and always have been.

(I have a fiddle - and a banjo - but in my hands they're both used mostly in a manner similar to the common uses of spoons and shaky-eggs. There's a "musical potential" there, but I've not really discovered how to bring it forth. I do better with my 8-string saxophone.)

John


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Subject: RE: How to clean resin off fiddle strings
From: Gurney
Date: 15 Jun 11 - 01:55 AM

Four sympathetic strings on each side, John?
Must be an interesting instrument case!


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Subject: RE: How to clean resin off fiddle strings
From: Bernard
Date: 15 Jun 11 - 05:59 AM

Is 'sympathetic strings' an oxymoron?!


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Subject: RE: How to clean resin off fiddle strings
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 15 Jun 11 - 07:06 AM

Four sympathetic strings on each side, John?

I find very little evidence of anything (or anyone) sympathetic when I play. On the other hand, my performances have been described as "moving" - (lots of people tend to move elsewhere when I start to play).

John


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