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Sub-Index Varnish: Violin Varnish | Brushes, Thinners and Oils | Gums, Resins & Dyes | Glossary | Recipes & Info

Violin Varnishes

High quality oil and spirit varnishes by Joseph Hammerl (JOHA) and Hidersine. Varnish solvents/thinners.

Highly recommended: If using these varnishes, we recommend purchasing the book Violin Varnishes by Josef and Reiner Hammerl, as it outlines the procedure for preparation of wood, proper application of varnish, handling the brush, number of coats, drying time and finishing procedure and final polishing of the instrument.

Violin Varnish, Metric conversions

Weight: 1 Gram = 0.0353 Ounces / 1 Ounce = 28.35 Grams
Volume: 1 Millilitre = 0.0338 Ounces (US) / 1 Ounce (US) = 29.57 Millilitres

Table of JOHA Varnish Colors (approximate)




Red Brown

Golden Yellow


Golden Brown

Dark Brown

JOHA Violin Oil Varnishes, Made in Germany

JOHA "1A" quality varnish is a very fine oil varnish, with Lavender oil and Balsams to improve its quality.

It is recommended to purchase a bottle of oil varnish thinner for thinning the varnish (if desired), and brush cleaner or Balsam turpentine for cleaning brushes. Standard pine turpentine is not compatible with this varnish, and will not clean the brushes.

This varnish applies very well and virtually anyone can do a good job when using it. It can be slightly diluted with varnish thinner (or Balsam turpentine), despite the fact that it then takes a little longer to dry. (Test this, too, with your thumb to see if it is dry). In the long run oil varnish becomes somewhat harder than spirit varnish. You can smooth this varnish, too, with pumice - stone or rottenstone and work it to a gentle shine with Polish and gloss oil. 90 ml will varnish approximately 1-2 violins. NOTE THAT THE JOHA AMBER VARNISH DOES NOT CONTAIN AMBER RESIN (AMBER REFERS TO THE COLOUR).
1A Clear Oil Primer (Ground) Item #2-12X

1A Color Oil Varnish Select Color: Item #2-12
1A Finish Oil Varnish, clear (for final coat) Item #2-12F
1A Oil Varnish Thinner (dilution) Item #2-10D

JOHA Violin Spirit Varnishes, Made in Germany

JOHA "1A" quality is a very fine quality spirit varnish made from natural resins.

Spirit varnish has always been the most commonly used for stringed instruments. It dries quickly, thus allowing a daily coating. The coating must be applied quickly, however, in order to prevent the varnish from clouding, especially on colour 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 in the varnish then you can apply the next coat ). Spirit varnish can be smoothed well with pumice-stone or rottenstone and polished with an appropriate polish. 90 ml will varnish approximately 1-2 violins. NOTE THAT THE JOHA AMBER VARNISH DOES NOT CONTAIN AMBER RESIN (AMBER REFERS TO THE COLOUR).
1A Clear Spirit Primer (Ground) Item #2-22X

1A Color Spirit Varnish Select Color: Item #2-22
1A Finish Spirit Varnish (for final coat) Item #2-22F

JOHA Retouching Varnish, Made in Germany NEW

  JOHA Retouching varnish is ideal for repairing damaged varnish on musical instruments.
It is made using selected resins and a special solvent, thus providing excellent adhesion to damaged areas. In order to achieve better cover, JOHA Retouching Varnish has a slightly stronger color. The composition of this special retouching varnish means that it is ideal for repairs to both spirit and oil varnishes. The appropriate thinner (see below) should be used with JOHA retouching varnish. All colors can be mixed with each other. The retouching varnish should be thickly dabbed or painted onto the area to be repaired; leave to dry completely and then sand smooth to match the remaining varnish.
Sold in bottles of 90mL.
1A Retouching Varnish Select Color: Item #2-32
1A Retouching Varnish Thinner (dilution) Item #2-32D

1704 Type Spirit Varnishes
Instructions for making 1704 varnish
1704N Varnish - Photo 1704 Spirit Varnish variation. (90 ml bottle)
This is a seedlac spirit varnish based on the old Italian 1704 recipe. A small amount of Gum Mastic is added to improve adherence between coats and a small amount of Gum Sandarac is added to add extra gloss. 1704 varnish comes in a natural golden color, and may be colored with any spirit based color.
Item #2-1704N

'1704N' Dry Ingredients
For 1704 varnish variation, double recipe (yields about 500 ml of varnish). Includes: 90g seedlac, 10g gum mastic, 10g gum sandarac, 14 ml. lavender spike oil. Approx. 400 ml of alcohol needed for this double recipe, sold separately. Instructions included with package.

Instructions for making the 1704 varnish can be found here.

Or you may download the instructions in Microsoft Word here.

Item #2-1704i

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