Now Distributed Exclusively by Howard Core Company !
If the unfinished instrument is to have a beautiful basic color, it should be stained before varnishing. But since the hardness of wood can vary, thus absorbing the stain unevenly, it is recommended that the basic instrument should be pre-treated first to ensure that the color is attractively even.

Instructions for pre-treating the wood:

Dissolve about 30 g of gelatin powder in a liter of warm water and then heat until the solution is clear and thin. Apply the warm solution evenly with a bristle brush, leave to dry completely and sand down very carefully with a fine sandpaper. The various stains described below can then be applied.

Water-based stains are available in some twenty shades. Dissolve contents of the bag, following the instructions on the label. To make the color lighter or deeper, change the proportion of water used. Apply the stain solution evenly to the cleanly sanded instruments using a sponge or brush. Wipe off excess stain with a dry rag.

Stain #421 - antique gray-brown is a ready-mixed oxidation stain. After application, the color changes under the effect of air and daylight from being colorless to antique gray-brown. This stain is applied exactly as described above. Once the required color has been reached, gently sand with a fine sandpaper and apply one coat of basic varnish. This prevents further modification of the color. Ideally, one should carry out a test stain and varnish to see what the final result will be, since the colors will vary with different types of wood. This stain particularly draws out timber rings.

JOHA® STAIN #423 and JOHA® STAIN #402 M
Stain #402 M is a rich brown, ready-made stain which should be used if a dark instrument is required. Stain #423 is a ready-made orange stain made from natural dyes. Use as water-based stains.

An introduction to our varnishes:

Spirit varnish has always been the varnish most commonly used for stringed instruments. It dries quickly, thus allowing a daily coating. The varnish must be applied quickly, however, in order to prevent the varnish from clouding, especially on color varnish. Every coat must be thoroughly dried before the next coat is applied in order to prevent cracks from materializing later. (Press hard on the varnish with your thumb for a few seconds. If it fails to make a print, then you can apply the next coat.) Spirit varnish can be smoothed well with pumice stone or rottenstone and polished.

This is an Italian type varnish which, in spite of being a very soft varnish, dries well. After is has been left to dry for a few days it polishes very well. As the name suggests this varnish is parly made up of propolis and is particularly fine quality. Its natural color is an antique yellow. This varnish should be smoothed with rottenstone and polished after is has dried completely, at least 30 days.

This varnish qpplies very well. It should be diluted a bit with balsam turpentine (the thinner that is listed with the oil varnishes), despite the fact that it takes a little longer to dry. (Test this also with your thumb to see if it is dry.) Contrary to popular opinion, in the long run, this varnish actually becomes somewhat harder than spirit varnish. You can smooth this varnish with pumice stone or rottenstone and work it to a gentle shine with polish and oil.

An outstanding oil varnish made with balsams and volatile oils which dries much faster than normal oil varnishes. As a result, however, it is not as easy to apply as normal oil varnish. Because it contains propolis, it stays elastic for a long time and allows the wood to vibrate properly. However, this means that volatile oil varnish may remain sensitive to heat and pressure even after years. After the last coat has dried (thirty days to six weeks) the volatile oil varnish can be smoothed with tripoli powder and polished.

This is ideal for repairing damaged varnish on musical instruments. It is made using selected resins and a special solvent, thus providing excellent adhesion to demaged areas. In order to achieve better cover, retouching varnish has a slightly stronger color. The composition of this special varnish means it is ideal for repairs both to spirit and oil varnishes. The special thinner must be used with the retouching varnish. All colors can be mixed with each other. This varnish should be thickly dabbed or applied to the area to be repaired; leave to dry completely and then sand smooth to match the remaining varnish.

Color extract is a liquid, light-resistant, transparent color for tinting colorless varnishes, although it can also be used with all other spirit, oil and synthetic resin varnishes. The colors can be mixed with each other, so that any desired shade may be matched. The liquid may be added directly to the varnish. This color extract is superior to spiriti and oil soluble powders as it is much more resistant to light.

     Back To Top

A list of dyeing resins, their color and solvents is shown below.  This is a general overview and is intended as a guide.  Please experiment yourself, using potash, ammonia solution, iron chloride, etc.  A detailed description of the resins and dyeing resins is given in the book "VIOLIN VARNISH" by Hammerl (available for sale in our book section).

Click here for a downloadble pdf version.