"tinney" sounding "a" strings

Is your zither in need of repair? Do you have questions on how to best maintain your zither, or have advice? Post your questions and advice here.

Moderator: Dave

Posts: 181
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2014 11:50 am

Re: "tinney" sounding "a" strings

Post by kenbloom » Tue Nov 07, 2017 4:52 pm

Hi Rudy,

If you plan to refinish be very careful. It is very easy to go through the veneers on the surface. Old lacquer and shellac finishes often crackle. Test the finish first with alcohol. If the finish can be dissoved with alcohol you will have a much easier time doing the prep. Softening and wiping away the old finish and then very lightly sanding would be preferable to trying to sand off the old finish. Sanding that much you are guaranteed to go through the veneer. If it is lacquer I would use a finish stripper but do it carefully. Once you have the old finish off, you can seal the surface with a single coat of fresh shellac and then either varnish or lacquer over that. Let me know if you need more info on any of this. I'm always happy to help.

Ken Bloom

Rudy Mueller
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Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:33 am

Re: "tinney" sounding "a" strings

Post by Rudy Mueller » Wed Nov 08, 2017 9:19 am

Thanks Ken,

As I recall, I started off with 400 grit paper on the Seith, which was a little too coarse. I'll stop at the local auto parts store and get something finer, probably 600 or 800 grit, to start.

"Too coarse": I went through the finish on the Seith, but not the veneer, in an oval shaped area ~ 2 square inches. Several coats of stain and polyurethane varnish, finishing up sanding with the kit used to polish auto headlight lenses, left a good surface. As I recall, the final grit was 3000. The underside was left "au Natural"


Posts: 181
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2014 11:50 am

Re: "tinney" sounding "a" strings

Post by kenbloom » Sun Nov 12, 2017 8:43 am

Hi Rudi,

You are a cautious and consciencitious person!


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Location: Connecticut!

Re: "tinney" sounding "a" strings

Post by NutmegCT » Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:26 pm

Something I learned a zillion years ago when I had a violin repair shop.

Many older instruments have an alcohol-based varnish. So to treat surface crackles and scratches, after thoroughly cleaning the surface, I'd use cheese cloth, mineral oil, and alcohol.

Let the cloth absorb some alcohol, then dip into mineral oil.

Rub the surface very lightly and gently. The mixture will dissolve the old varnish, eliminating the scratches, and leave a beautiful smooth, shining surface. You're not "re-varnishing" the instrument. You're smoothing and re-distributing the original varnish.

I believe the term back then was "French Polishing". Here's an overview (see the paragraph beginning "After you have finished cleaning the instrument you are ready to touch up worn areas, repair cracks or start French polishing. ")

http://www.howtorepairaviolin.com/clean ... iolin.html

Just my two groschen.
Tom M.

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