The repair job on the instrument’s coating took more than 80 hours

Before and after

The damaged cello (left) and after the restoration (right)

A luthier in Australia has finished an 80-hour project to repair damage to a cello’s varnish, which occurred when hand sanitiser was accidentally spilt over it. The incident took place at a rehearsal, at a time when the cellist was away from her instrument.

’There was a bottle of sanitiser on a table nearby and one of the other musicians knocked it over without realising it,’ said luthier John Simmers. ’It only took minutes for the damage to be done, as the cellist came back soon afterwards and noticed all the white marks. Hand sanitiser has to be over 60% alcohol to be effective, so it is very damaging to most varnishes on stringed instruments.’

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It is a very good example as to why insuring one’s instrument is so important. ’The WHO recommends washing your hands as the first line in stopping the spread of Covid-19, with hand sanitiser used where that is not possible,’ said Simmers. ’It’s a good reminder of why you should wash your hands before playing anyway..’ The story of the restoration will be covered in a future issue of The Strad.