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Finishes

The standard finish is violin oil varnish, hand applied by an animal hair brush. It dries partly by evaporation of the turpentine and other thinners, but later primarily by the oxidation of the oil components, such as linseed oil. This process can last for up to several months, even while the instrument is already in use. The satin or semi-gloss varnish surface stays softer and is known for its flexibility and durability.

The French polished spirit varnish is a traditional finish used even on pre-war Gibson mandolins. Its surface is harder and can look more glossy than the oil varnish, but it is less durable and may be easily damaged by water and especially by the player's sweat.

The neck is mostly without varnish, treated solely by linseed oil.


Tip:

For cleaning mandolins finished with a spirit varnish, use only solutions meant expressly for this purpose. This sort of product (for example Varnish Cleaner) is available in music stores. Oil-based finish, on the other hand, is not as sensitive to solvents after it matures. Thus the polishing out of small scrathces and the like can be accomplished using normal polishing paste such as that intended for use on synthetic finishes. But even in this case it is vest to try a small amount of the cleaner in a less-visible spot and bear in mind that it is easy to polish through to the wood if you aren't careful.


Satin and Semi-Gloss Oil Varnish
Satin and Semi-Gloss Oil Varnish
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Satin and Semi-Gloss Oil Varnish
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Applying of Oil varnish
Applying of Oil varnish
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Applying of Oil varnish
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Oil Varnish Drying in the Sunlight
Oil Varnish Drying in the Sunlight
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Oil Varnish Drying in the Sunlight
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Oil Varnish Drying in the Sunlight
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Spirit Varnish - French Polishing
Spirit Varnish - French Polishing
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Drying
Drying
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