it's the 3M or Scotch green tape ...
interesting comments ... as this is what the guys at Epifanes recommend using with their varnish. The tape does not seem to me to be tearing or failing at all. Comes up easily and no varnish wicking under the seal.
The issue, and I think it would be the same for any tape, is that the varnish from the vertical surface of the Fiddle "flows" down over the tape, and therefore, there is a seal to be broken between the varnish on the tape and the varnish on the wood. No matter how meticulous you are in getting the varnish off the tape, without taking any varnish off the wood, seems to me this would be nearly impossible to prevent.
As Charlie suggested, I've simply ran a razor at the tape / wood joint, and that worked well enough. However, I'm also breaking the seal.
It's interesting because in the Epi book of "Tips" ... they say to pull the tape after every coat (really ? that'll sure add time to the project to re-tape for every coat) within 2 hours of application. Yet, when you chat with the pros at the Epi Thomaston, ME Headquarters, they say to let the varnish cure at lest 24 hors before pulling it.
And 3 coats ... Really ? I thinned my first three coats, 50%, 25% then 15%. After about the 5th or 6th coat, it starting looking good. I quit after 8 coats. But sure seemed like after every coat I did, it looked better and better. Sort of tempting to do more !
Thanks again everyone ... cheers, John