"Oh, that cloth that comes with every instrument you buy, the one you use to wipe the instrument."Silicon cloths are often disregarded as "just a cloth you get when you buy an instrument.However, it is not to be underestimated! Don't underestimate it as just a cloth!This cloth is used to polish your precious instruments, and THE used music shop is particular about it. As a used music store that polishes instruments most often, we will show you our commitment to the cloth!
What is a silicon cloth anyway?
Here is a question. What is a silicon cloth made of?
Silicon? Unfortunately, if you answered "silicon," you are incorrect. Silicon cloth is a cloth made of cotton or other material with silicon in it. Then, what is silicon? This material is often heard of in cosmetic surgery, but in this case, we can say that it has the effect of polishing and shining an instrument. In other words, a silicon cloth is a cloth that contains silicon to make it shiny.
Good silicon cloth, bad silicon cloth
If you think, "Well, a silicon cloth is the same as a rag dampened with polish," you are quite right, but it is a little different. Well, the nuance may be quite close, but the major difference is the manufacturing process. Each of the silicon crystals in the cloth is so small that they are on the order of tens of thousands of times the size of a grain of sand, which is about the size of an electron microscope. Each of these tiny crystals is woven deep into the fiber. Therefore, a good silicon cloth for a musical instrument is, first of all, a good cloth itself, which is the base material. It is also important that only good quality silicon is woven into the cloth without mixing in any impurities. Poorly made cloths may have unevenly woven silicon or contain impurities that are not good for the instrument or the human body.
Ask a professional!
The real reason why you should not use a silicon cloth on a lacquered instrument.
This story has been told for a long time. But there are few people who can give a perfect answer to the question "Why? I think there are few people who can give a perfect answer to this question.
Silicon bonds with lacquer and causes discoloration? There are various theories, such as "silicon combines with lacquer and causes discoloration," etc. However, in our inventory of over several thousand instruments, it is difficult to find instruments that have been damaged by silicon cloth, and it is probably difficult to verify this because there are no actual cases.
So, we visited the factory where we manufacture our signature silicon cloth, which we call "THE used music instrument store cloth" (just as it sounds...), and asked a specialist about it. The answers were as follows!
A: AYes, it does. Even though there is no influence at all, I would say that with a good quality silicon cloth, there is practically no problem at all. The amount of silicon in the silicon cloth is so small that it is not strong enough to bind with the lacquer and alter it. Unless, of course, the instrument is immersed in undiluted silicone."
I see. He said that the amount of silicon particles contained in a single piece of cloth would have no adverse effect. But if there is even a slight effect, what if the instrument is soaked in undiluted silicon solution and polished millions of times with a silicon cloth? I was curious, so I asked him.
A: I asked.The cloth would be ruined before that. Aside from that, well, if you apply undiluted solution, it will have some effect. In that case, the biggest problem is when it comes time to repaint. If the lacquer has bonded with a large amount of silicone, the bond with the wood becomes stronger and more resistant to other chemicals, making it a little more difficult to remove the paint. It can be a bit of a challenge for the refinishers."
I see. If you don't intend to remove the paint, it might be a good idea. Then, if I polish with silicon cloth, will it make the paint stronger?
A: Yes.Yes, but only slightly. After all, the amount of silicon in the cloth would only make it shinier and have little effect beyond that, for better or worse. More than that... actually..."
I am curious about the rest of the "actually.... So I asked. 'Actually...what is it?"
A: ...I think the impurities in silicon cloth have more of an impact. Of course, we don't have any, but if we use some kind of organic solvent when we add silicone, there will be residues, which are not good for the lacquer.
Well, it seems that the truth is not that silicon cloth is bad, but that inferior silicon cloth is bad. Isn't it unfortunate that the image of the silicon cloth as a whole is damaged because of that?
A: A.That's what I mean. Anyway, I would like you to use good silicon cloth."
That is what I meant. Now, let's take a look at how "good silicon cloth" is made, referring to the process of making "THE used musical instrument store cloth" of which we are proud.
First of all, the material comes first.
We mentioned earlier that silicon cloth is a cloth with silicon woven into it. THE Used Musical Instrument Store Cloth is made of 100% pure cotton. The cloth is carefully woven in a factory in Japan.
Here again we have a manufacturing factory specialist.
A: A: AWe can lower the cost by using synthetic fibers, but the silicone cannot be added evenly. It is easy to remove the silicone after just a little bit of use. Of course, if you wash them, they are ruined."
Does this mean that pure cotton can be washed and used again?
A: Yes.A: "It can't be used forever, but it penetrates deep into the fibers, so it won't go bad after a few washes. It can be used repeatedly. Besides, if there are nylon fibers mixed in, they can damage the instrument. That's why we consistently stick to pure cotton."
I see. That's a very encouraging comment. The first thing is the material. I agree.
We insist on 100% pure silicon.
100% pure silicon........it doesn't really conjure up images, but on the other hand, is there any impure silicon that is not 100% pure?
A: A: I don't think so.A: "Impure silicon is not quite the same thing. By the way, what do you think is the most expensive part of making silicon cloth?
The question was asked backwards.... Is it the pure cotton that is the material?
A: ANo, it is not. The most expensive part is the silicon that is added. It is so small that you can't even see it. So if you want to keep costs down, you often see things other than silicone added to the cloth."
I see. So in addition to silicone, other things are mixed in. For example, what kind of things?
A: A"The purpose of a silicone cloth is to make the polish shine, so some contain oils or waxes to make that easier to see."
I see. It is indeed easy to understand. But isn't that good?
A: AThat's certainly one way to look at it. However, oil and the like will quickly dissipate, so it is only effective for the first moment. We want to make products that can be used for a long time, so we don't use such products. Besides, low-cost waxes may contain harmful substances.
That's a little scary.
A: I'm afraid of that.That is why we are more concerned about products that can be used for a long time with peace of mind than those that only appear to be effective. Silicon itself has little effect on the human body, as it is used in cosmetic surgery. So, for example, mouthpieces for wind instruments and other parts that come into contact with the mouth can be used with peace of mind. After all, it is not only the instrument that is most important, but also the person who uses it.
So you have thought that much about it. We also use this cloth casually on a daily basis. We had no idea that so much thought had gone into it.
The method of attaching silicone is also very particular!
We are particular about pure cotton and pure silicon. And they have a secret method of making the pure silicone permeate the pure cotton. We asked him about the production process.
A: A: The process of making the silicone.The most important part is how to get the silicone to adhere to the fabric, and we use water.
A: Water.A: "The silicone particles are dissolved in water, allowed to penetrate, and then allowed to dry. It takes a lot of time and effort, but I think this is the best way."
That's very primitive...and with all due respect, that's what I think in layman's terms.
A:If we are talking efficiency alone, there is a way to dissolve silicon in a volatile solvent and spray it. That certainly eliminates the need for drying equipment and processes, so it can be done quickly and costs can be reduced. However, the residue of the solvent is left on the fabric, isn't it? Some organic solvents contain carcinogens, so we cannot use such solvents. That is why we use fresh water. If it is fresh water, nothing will remain once it is dried. It is a simple and time-consuming process, but it is the safest way."
This is another example of the consideration for the users. In the end, I was reminded that what this factory is making for us is not a "product" but "consideration.
A: AWe use only pure cotton, pure silicon, and fresh water. This is our commitment and our pride."
I see. That's good to hear. Dissolve in water and dry. I'm starting to think I can make it myself.
A: I'll try it.I don't think it will be that easy. You need a very solid facility just to dry it. It takes a lot of skill to get the silicone dissolved in water to really penetrate efficiently."
I see. The materials are simple, so it's a world where skill really counts, isn't it? What kind of techniques do you use?
A: I use a simple technique.I would say it is a secret technique handed down from my ancestors (laughs). I can teach you, but it will take you 10 years to master the tricks. Once you have mastered it, you can move on to the deeper secrets. Only those who have mastered the secrets can open the Book of Secrets and obtain the forbidden silicon cross."
Yes, yes...I understand. I don't know how much of this is a joke, but I understand that it is very deep. I had thought it was just silicon cloth, but I didn't know it was this deep. I had no idea it was this deep. It is only with solid technology that we are able to create products that are so thoughtful and considerate.
The significance of silicon cloth and Hyper Micro Cloth
Having seen the production process up to this point, I can see why you are so particular about it and how strongly you feel about it. But why use silicon in the first place? I had a rudimentary question. So I boldly asked him.
A: I was very surprised to hear that they use silicone.Well, it wouldn't be a silicon cloth if it didn't have silicon in it.
That's right. Like coffee without creep? No, it's less than that. Coffee without coffee? Then it is just hot water....
A: ASilicon has the effect of creating an ultra-thin film on the polished surface and giving it a glossy finish. It is an important element in giving a beautiful shine."
I see. I finally understood for the first time after coming this far. Silicon cloth is not for removing stains, but for giving a beautiful gloss. But, for example, if it is only for removing stains and making the cloth clean, wouldn't it be okay to use just pure cotton without silicone? I also asked such a question.
A: I think it's a good idea.Yes, but.... But if you want to remove dirt, there is something better than pure cotton. Here it is."
Mr. Specialist proudly pulls out another cloth. It is...THE used music instrument store hyper micro cloth that we also sell at our store. I thought this was a high-end version of silicon cloth, but it is not?
A: AThe concept is very different. If you want to give a shine, silicon cloth is the iron wall; if you want to remove dirt, micro cloth is the iron wall."
Mr. Specialist smiles confidently as he says this. Now, let's uncover the secrets of micro cloth.
A: A: AMicro cloth is made of fibers much finer than cotton and other fibers, finer than 1/100th of a human hair.
Mr. Specialist says proudly. I understand that it is very fine. But so what?
A:Let's say you have a grain of sand on the surface of your instrument. Can you take this off with chopsticks?"
No, you can't. Because the tip of the chopstick is bigger than the tip of the instrument. The tip of the chopstick is bigger than the tip of the instrument.
A: I can't.That's right. If you try to remove grains of sand with chopsticks, you might push them against the chopsticks or scratch them by rubbing against them. But if you use the tip of a fine brush, for example, which is much thinner than chopsticks, you can safely remove grains of sand.
That's a good analogy, isn't it? ↓(Image of this analogy)
A: AIn fact, many of the dirt particles that adhere to instruments, such as hand dust, are actually smaller than the tips of cotton fibers. Such particles cannot be wiped off with ordinary fibers. But this Micro Cloth is made of such fine fibers that there are no more of them, so it can remove almost all dirt."
Won't it scratch the surface by rubbing with such fine tips?
A: No.That is another great thing about Micro Cloth. Even though it is so thin, it is very soft, so you can use it with peace of mind. In reality, the shape is more complicated than this image shows, and it looks like a flower petal. It doesn't let go of the dirt it grabs, so it really cleans the surface."
I could see how great the microcloth was. I wonder if this one doesn't have silicone in it.
A: Yes, it does.No, it does not contain silicone. This is made specifically to remove dirt, so it does not contain any ingredients that give it a shine. It is made solely from fibers woven with ultra-fine special fibers."
So it seems safe to use.
A:That's right. We use only pure domestic microfibers, so you can use it safely even with lacquer coating. And because it is pure fiber, it can be washed and used over and over again. It is also highly absorbent, making it ideal for wiping perspiration."
We already know enough about this factory's concern for its users. Then it is safe to use it for baby diapers.
A: I'm sure it's safe to use it for diapers for babies.No, I don't think so. Besides, they are expensive."
Yes. That's actually what I thought. The Hyper Micro Cloth we sell at our store costs 1,000 yen. It costs 2.5 times as much as silicon cloth. Surely that's a bit expensive?
A: Yes, it is.As you say, it is a little expensive. But I am sure the quality is worth it. They are made of the most advanced microfiber made by a first-rate fiber manufacturer in Japan. It is true that recently you can find cheaper microfiber cloths under the name "micro cloths" or "microfiber cloths. But the trouble is that there is no definition of microfiber as having a thickness of less than a few millimeters. So, even if they are not this thin, they are sometimes sold under the name "microfiber cloths" even if they are just a little bit thinner.
Are you saying that counterfeit products are being distributed?
A: Yes.No, I wouldn't go so far as to say that there are counterfeit products. However, inexpensive microfibers made overseas do not have this level of fiber fineness. The fibers we use here are at the limit of what is possible; there are no fibers finer than this. In that sense, Japanese textile makers have the world's best technology.
I see. So this is the crystallization of Japanese technology. And if it can be washed and used many times, it is certainly more economical than buying many other cloths. I might even buy one for myself. I'm starting to feel like it.
Facts about the cloth industry
I see. I learned many things during this visit. I also learned how passionate this factory is about making cloth. To be honest, I didn't expect to get so excited just talking about silicon cloth.... Thank you very much. Some interesting stories, some a little scary. But is there really such a thing as an impure cross that contains such toxic substances?
A: A.Unfortunately, I can't say that there are none. After all, that's what happens when you try to keep costs down. You never know if they are made overseas at a lower price. And unfortunately, not everyone is making instruments with the sole purpose of making them. For example, what if a cloth is made for shoeshine by the manufacturer, but imported for instruments just because it is cheap? So it's not just the manufacturing side that's the problem."
Wow! I don't want to play a wind instrument polished with that kind of cloth.
A: I don't want to play a wind instrument that's polished like that.That's why it's important for us to make our products in Japan, and for us at the factory to talk directly with the dealers. If a music shop orders a product, we can make it while considering the people who play the instrument.
That's right. Communication is important. And if they can make something with such thought and care, then that is the best thing that can happen. By the way, do you have any difficulties in making crosses like this?
A: Yes.It's not so much a hardship, but it is difficult to convey our techniques and persistence in our products. The quality of a product only comes out after it has been used for many, many years.
Well, that's true.
A: I agree.I think it's a good instrument, just by playing it! A: "If it's a musical instrument, you can just play it and say, 'This is a good instrument! With food, you can take a bite of it and say, "This is delicious! You can see the customer's happy face when they take a bite of the food. But in our case, it is difficult to say that a piece of cloth is good just by holding it in one's hand.
I myself can't tell if a cloth is good or bad just by holding it in my hand....
A: I can't tell if a cross is good or bad just by holding it in my hand..."Do you have customers who ask you to let them try out this cloth for polishing?
There are no such special customers....
A: AThat's right. The real value comes out when the product is used until it is really tattered. Then it gets thrown away. They may never say thank you very much. That's why we make our cloths with the smiles on the faces of the people who play them and the instruments they polish with our cloths in mind."
I see... Even though I am a music instrument enthusiast, I had never thought of thanking them for the cloths. I realized for the first time that the joy of musical instruments comes from people who work hard in the shadows in this way.
A: AI am not so much proud of it, but I have never had anyone complain about it. There have been no stories of trouble when I used this cloth or anything like that. In the world of making this kind of thing, that kind of thing doesn't seem to happen very often. So I'm happy to know that everyone is really satisfied with the product."
I see. Thank you very much.
After the interview
To tell the truth, I went to the interview wondering if there were enough questions to ask and things to write about for a special feature on silicon cloths, but I never thought I would return home with such warm feelings. I had never imagined that I would return home with such warm feelings.
I was surprised at the amount of care and thought that went into the cloths that I had taken for granted. I am very glad that I was able to do this interview. The piece of cloth I received at the factory on my way home felt a little heavy and warm, as if it contained everyone's thoughts and feelings. It made me feel like I should polish my instruments with gratitude when I get home. And not only today, but many, many years from now, when I have used this cross until it is worn out, I would be more than happy to say thank you again.
I hope I can say thank you again when I use this cloth until it is worn out, not only today, but many years from now!
I think you already know that this is not just a silicon cloth.
We hope you will use it for a long time.
Please use it for a long time and feel its goodness.