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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter January 22, 2020

Violin varnish induced changes in the vibro-mechanical properties of spruce and maple wood

  • Sarah Louise Lämmlein ORCID logo EMAIL logo , Bart Van Damme , David Mannes , Francis Willis Matthew Robert Schwarze and Ingo Burgert
From the journal Holzforschung


Violin varnishes are known to alter the longitudinal and radial material properties of violin tonewood. Here, the varnish-induced changes in the vibrational and elastic properties of spruce and maple wood were studied by modal analysis of rectangular plates. This contact-free investigation yields the eigenfrequencies and corresponding mode shapes and modal damping ratios of multiple out-of-plane modes. The longitudinal and radial E-modulus and the in-plane shear modulus were determined by an inverse material property determination process. The influence of traditional European varnish materials and different coating build-ups, comprising alcohol-based as well as oil-based varnishes, was studied during their application and for several months during drying and aging of the multi-layered systems. The evolutions of the changes induced by the different varnishes were rather similar and, except for modal damping, less pronounced for maple than for spruce. For the latter, the longitudinal E-modulus was slightly decreased while the shear modulus and radial E-modulus were increased after 18 months. The strong increases in modal damping ratios shortly after applying the coating systems (up to 150%) were reduced over time but remained significant for the time-span studied. However, also small differences between the influence of different coating systems and varnish materials on the amplitude of the induced changes became apparent.


The first author thanks R. Viala and S. Cogan of FEMTO-ST, Besançon, for an introduction to the general approach and methods and the possibility to conduct a feasibility study. Further acknowledgements go to M. Sedighi Gilani for initiating the COST project, to U. Dederer for providing and explaining her knowledge about traditional varnish materials and processes and to D. Heer for the wood sample preparation.

  1. Research funding: The work was funded by the COST Project C15.0082.

  2. Employment or leadership: None declared.

  3. Honorarium: None declared.

  4. Conflict of interest: The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Supplementary Material

The online version of this article offers supplementary material (

Received: 2019-07-11
Accepted: 2019-11-07
Published Online: 2020-01-22
Published in Print: 2020-08-27

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