Making Matters: A cautionary tale for our times


When a cello suffered a calamitous hand sanitiser accident, it looked irreparable at first sight. John Simmers explains how he restored it to the way it was pre-Covid

Last October I received a text message from a friend that contained a rather disturbing photo of a cello with badly damaged varnish. My initial response to the damage I saw was ‘Whoa – I don’t want anything to do with sorting that out!’ As it turned out, I knew the cello and its owner quite well and for a number of reasons I couldn’t help becoming involved. It transpired that during a rehearsal, while the cello was sitting on the floor, a fellow musician had unknowingly bumped a bottle of hand sanitiser on a nearby table. Somehow the sanitiser splattered on to the front of the cello, making a large area of the lower bout resemble something from a crime scene. When the cellist returned minutes later, he noticed all the white marks on the cello and realised what had happened…

Already subscribed? Please sign in

Subscribe to continue reading…

We’re delighted that you are enjoying our website. For a limited period, you can try an online subscription to The Strad completely free of charge.

  • Free 7-day trial

    Not sure about subscribing? Sign up now to read this article in full and you’ll also receive unlimited access to premium online content, including the digital edition and online archive for 7 days.

    No strings attached – we won’t ask for your card details

  • Subscribe 

    No more paywalls. To enjoy the best in-depth features and analysis from The Strad’s latest and past issues, upgrade to a subscription now. You’ll also enjoy regular issues and special supplements* and access to an online archive of issues back to 2010.


* Issues and supplements are available as both print and digital editions. Online subscribers will only receive access to the digital versions.