If It Ain’t Right, Make It Right

A couple months ago I finished constructing my first violin. Or fiddle. Or whatever you prefer to call a tiny shoulder mounted cello. I began to learn to play and achieved a few decent phrases in the midst of the bumbling screeching of a man’s first attempts to play the fiddle. The thing is, I could hear that something was amiss. I am so used to listening intently for the way an acoustic instrument is resonating that I couldn’t ignore a certain brashness in the tone. A rawness that seemed inappropriate for the age old singer of melodies. Frankly, it sounded like a stereo with the highest slider on the EQ thrown up to 11.


I realized that just sealing and treating the wood with tung oil is not enough for a violin. I immediately did some research and ordered some proper violin varnish. A couple days ago I finally got around to disassembling the thing and applying the ground coat to the body and headstock.


The varnishing process will take weeks to perform, but here is some photographic evidence of the first step!


Before, with just Tung Oil. I like this finish a lot, not for its ease of application, but because it lets the wood really speak without being interfered with. However, a violin needs a bit of taming.

fiddle before fiddle before 2



And after the first coat of varnish.

fiddle after



I am very interested to find out how this will affect the voice of the instrument!





2 thoughts on “If It Ain’t Right, Make It Right

  1. Have you ever watched “The Red Violin”? You should check it out. It’s been several years since I saw it, but as I remember a whole part of the movie is about the making of the violin and the special varnishing techniques used in the 16th century.

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