Handbook Of Violin Playing - Online tutorial

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The varnish.
This is of great importance for the instrument. In the first place it preserves it from the influence of the weather, and then it also has its influence upon the tone. A fine varnish must be transparent, so that the wood underneath may be fully shown up, and it must also be of a fine, but not glaring or staring, colour. The finest varnish is found on the violins of Stradivarius. Two kinds of varnish are used, — spirit varnish, — a gum dissolved in alcohol; and oil varnish, — a gum dissolved in oil of turpentine.
The strings.
Violin strings are made from the intestines of sheep. The lowest string has fine wire spun round it, silver wire being the best. Copper wire is greatly used, it being much cheaper. The best strings are obtained from Italy, from Rome, Padua, and Naples, although very good strings are also manufactured in Germany, at Markneu-kirchen. The value of a string consists principally in its perfect equality of thickness throughout; above all, there must not be knots in it. A string spun quite evenly yields accurate vibrations, and is on this account pure in tone.
In order to test the purity of tone of each string, it may be held as shown at both ends, pulling it rather tight, and then setting it into vibration with one of the fingers. If it appears double, thus: —
it possesses a pure tone; if, however, it appears three­fold, — if only at one part of it, — it will be false.
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