I wonder how is the dark spot as shown below is possible on violins. Is it due to cracking and re-varnishing or due to intentional antiquing? Would this impact the violin acoustically?

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  • 5
    They look like dings, indentations from the wood having met hard objects. Source: Zero violin experience, but I've lived around old wood furniture. Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 18:20
  • 2
    I wondered how a violin could get dinged like that? But then I thought hitting the scroll on a music stand probably isn't uncommon for a student instrument. Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 20:17
  • 3
    By the way that is a superb photo. Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 20:36

3 Answers 3


Would this impact the violin acoustically?

The scroll (where the discoloration occurs) has no impact on the violin's acoustics.

  • Agree. There would be an audible effect, if the woods structure was severely damaged or rotten, like 30 % of all fibres, e.g. from fungi. No indication for any of that on the photos.
    – MS-SPO
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 9:45

If this were any wooden object, I would say it's just the finish worn off and the dark spots are pits below the surface that general wear and tear can't rub on to wear away. But that's a lot or rubbing on the surface of a violin scroll, which seems a little odd. It would help to see another image of the whole instrument, including the back, to see the rest of the finish. That might help show if it were refinished and perhaps intentionally antiqued.

  • Just added a photo for respectively back and front. Generally for the back there is very few such dent, but the front has more dents. Could this be acoustically problematic?
    – Aqqqq
    Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 7:47
  • 1
    Doubtful it would effect acoustics. But keep things in perspective: if the violin has been abused in this way, it is not likely a valuable and acoustically superb instrument. People tend to take care of high quality instruments. In other words, it isn't likely it hard great acoustics to damage in the first place. Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 18:43
  1. These kind of pits are sometimes done with intentional antiquing. I own a comparatively cheap modern instrument that for whatever reason was finished in a way as to give it a faux "old" appearance (not well enough to be a convincing counterfeit, but "in the spirit of" instruments that had seen more wear). I presume the approach is to create minute dents or depressions, apply a dark varnish, and then wipe it off, leaving the surrounding area lighter.

  2. This is one of several questions you've posted asking whether minute details of aesthetic appearance influence tone. Please understand, the things that determine tone most are:

    • the proportions of the instrument (how high is the top from the base? where does it "bulge", where is it narrower? what are the overall cubic inches inside, and how are they arranged),
    • The wood selected (what species? How did the tree grow; how dense is it? How was it aged?),
    • And, to a much lesser extent than the other two, what type of varnish was applied.

Compared to these considerations, any difference in tone that could be caused by any kind of wear is so small as to be difficult to measure. It's like asking whether the color of a bicycle affects its speed. Two different violins will sound vastly different from each other, and the difference has nothing to do with any patterning or spots.

However, cracks are another matter. A violin could withstand any number of tiny, superficial dents like those pictured here with no effect, but a crack that goes completely through the wood can change the behavior and tone of an instrument forever even if repaired.

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