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Violin Sizes

  • The following table specifies the different sizes of violins available. Note that these measurements may vary slightly with manufacturers.
Size Body Length Age
1/16 9"(230mm) 3 - 5 yrs
1/8 10"(255mm) 4 - 6 yrs
1/4 11"(280mm) 5 - 7 yrs
1/2 12"(305mm) 6 - 9 yrs
3/4 13"(330mm) 8 - 12 yrs
4/4 14"(356mm) 12 - 100 yrs

Humidity

  • Incorrect humidity is a leading cause of violin damage. Both too much and too little can cause surfaces to become unglued, warp, and crack. Likewise, pegs can stick or loosen excessively and the instrument's voice can be affected to a considerable degree. Much of this depends on climatic and storage conditions. Various measures can be taken to guard against these possible damages. An excellent precaution is to have a reliable hygrometer in your storage area to ensure that the humidity level is maintained in the 40 - 50% range.

Bow Care

  • Always loosen the hair after playing.  This keeps it from stretching, preserves the camber of the bow and helps it from warping.
  • Always hold the bow by the frog, not by the tip or hair, and carry it with the tip raised.
  • Avoid contact between fingers and bow hair.  Oil from skin will make it difficult to get a clear resonant tone.
  • It is unnecessary to rosin the bow every time it is used. Too much rosin produces a gritty sound.  Apply rosin sparingly and evenly.
  • To avoid damage from mites and insects, keep your violin case off of the floor (especially carpeted areas).
  • The fragile part of the bow is the tip.  Never tap or strike the head of the bow or swish it through the air to remove excess rosin.
  • The hair can be washed with warm water using mild soap.
  • Keep the bow clean by wiping the stick with a soft, clean cloth after playing.

Rosin

  • Experienced players prefer a soft rosin for studio work and a harder rosin for the concert hall.
  • Light colored dry rosin is best for damp climates and dark colored soft rosin in cold dry climates.
  • Because of its alcohol component, rosin will tend to dry out in about a year. We recommend annual replacement.

Varnish & Stains

  • Spirit varnish is commonly used for stringed instruments. It dries quickly, thus allowing a daily coating.  In order to prevent cracks, every coat must be completely dry before the next coat is applied.  Spirit varnish can be smoothed well with pumice stone or rotton stone and polished with an appropriate polish.
  • Oil varnish applies very well and virtually anyone can do a good job when using it.  it should be diluted a bit with balsam turpentine, despite the fact that it then takes longer to dry.  In the long run this varnish becomes somewhat harder than spirit varnish.  You can smooth this varnish too, with pumice or rotton stone and work a gentle shine with polish and gloss oil.
  • Stains & Primers: If the unfinished instrument is to have a beautiful basic color, it should be stained before varnishing.  But since the hardness of the wood can vary, thus absorbing the stain unevenly, it is recommended that the basic instrument be pretreated to ensure that the color is attractively even.
  • Water-based stains are available in many colors. Apply the stain evenly to the cleanly sanded instrument using a sponge or brush.  The unfinished instrument must be pretreated before these stains are used.  This may be done with gelatin powder dissolved in water.  Make sure there are no glue spots on the wood as these will prevent the stain from being obsorbed.

Varnishing

  • Although many varnishing methods are used and most luthier's have their own formula, the following information is a guide intended to assit you. We suggest using Oil Varnish as Spirit Varnish dries very quickly. Spirit Varnish can be used for touch-ups or repair work.
  • Pretreat the white instrument with a thin soulution of Gelatin Powder dissolved in Hot Water (cool before using) and lightly sand. This will seal the wood and prevent the stain and varnish from being absorbed. More tha one coat may be necessary.
  • If using stains, this would be the next step. Otherwise go to next step.
  • Varnish Primer and sand between coats, cleaning well before each step. More than one coat may be necessary.
  • Then apply colored varnish, as many coats as needed to obtain the color desired and sand briefly between each coat.
  • The finish coat should be colorless varnish. Again, several finishing coats may be required. Sand lightly betwwen coats.
  • If using Pumice and then Rottenstone powder mixed with Polishing Oil for polishing, use only after the last coat. Wash the instrument well with warm water after using these powders.
  • Finishing with a good polish, we recommend Joha instrument polish.
  • Drying is necessary between each coat of varnish.
  • You may use up to 7% color extract in colorless varnish if mixing colors.
  • When dilution is used, you may add up to 10% in oil varnish (may not be necessary).
  • Vienna Chalk Powder/Polishing Oil fro bright high gloss plishing after final coat.
  • If using Water-Base or Antique or Other Stains, the instrument must be sealed first.
  • Work in a room with reasonable temperature with humidity of 40-50%.

Ebony Care

  • Ebony is a very dense wood and is commonly used for the making of violin pegs, fingerboards and tailpieces. It is graded by how close to the center core of the tree trunk it is taken from. Grade A comes from the center of the log (very dark -- almost black) and Grade B is generally taken from the outer regions of the log (lighter in appearance).
  • Many people regard ebony as something other than wood and therefore fail to realise that it can dry out. Ebony should be polished periodically with olive oil.
THE VIOLIN SOUND POST AND BRIDGE: Although other factors being considered the proper installation of the Bridge and Sound Post for ultimate tone is very important. With the Bridge in it's proper position, the Sound Post should be placed in the instrument approximate half of the post thickness or diameter behind the center of the right Bridge foot. The post should not be too tight, and just secure enough when the strings are loose to stay in place. When the strings are properly tuned this will hold the Sound Post in place. Moving the post back and forth and from side to side with the strings loose will have an effect on the tone. It is really a matter of taking the time and effort to keep re-positioning the post and retuning to find the best position for tone. Remember other factors can and will affect the tone of the instrument and should be considered. Bridge too think or too thin, feet not properly fitted to the top of the insturment, too high or too low to fingerboard, distance from nut and tailplace, positioning to the base bar. Type of Tailpiece being used, Type of Strings being used (see our infomation on strings in our string section) We hope this information can be of some help to you and we can only suggest a good book on this subject, it will be worth the investment.