Please get in contact to arrange an appointment at my Sheffield workshop.
As well as being an instrument maker and technician I’m also a player and I understand the importance of getting things just right so that your instrument is not only structurally sound but also feels as good as (or maybe even better than) new.
Whenever I assess an instrument, I’ll check that there aren’t any other underlying issues that could prevent you from getting the best out of it.
I value efficiency but my general aim is to work the the highest standard and to take as long over a job as it requires, so if you need your instrument or bow back by within a specific time frame then please make this clear during our initial consultation. In some cases I may be able to offer a priority service.
I will endeavor to let you know if I currently have a heavy workload which could delay my getting to your instrument; if so then it might be better for both of us to arrange a date in the future to drop it in rather than having it sit in my workshop.
I do not wish to put my services out of reach of those on a low income, so please do not be afraid to ask about the available options.
I always try and balance price and quality in terms of raw materials. If you have a specific request in terms of what materials are used on your instrument then let me know – I source from a variety of reliable suppliers and there is some amount of flexibility in terms what I can get hold of.
Although I can give you a cost estimate prior to meeting, I cannot give a final quote for a repair until I have examined the instrument fully. What follows is a rough guide for prices of individual jobs, however be aware that it may often be a lot more economical to get several jobs done at the same time. Examples are provided for a few combined services.
Generally free although may be prices for longer sessions / followup.
Bridge alignment adjustment, optional string change (strings not supplied), visual and audible soundpost inspection.
(if other repairs are found to be required, I will speak to you about options and if they can be done whilst the strings are off then their price will be accordingly lower.)
Standard Checkup PLUS peg lubrication and soundpost adjustment*
(* if soundpost is well fitting an can be safely moved. if not then I would recommend the fitting of a new post or simply do the Basic Checkup)
|String Change (strings not included)||£25||£30||£35|
|Soundpost Adjustment Session (1hr or under)|
Ideally carried out together with the player in the workshop.
(If I don’t think that the current soundpost can be safely moved then I will advise the fitting of a new post. A sound adjustment session can be included in this cost.)
Adjusting the curvature of the bridge and relative string heights to improve string heights and optimise string crossing. This is done to a standard template, but custom profiles can be applied. Fitting of a parchment E/A string patch included – no more need for string tubes!
Often a more economical alternative to fitting a whole new bridge.
|~ £90||~ £120||~£140|
Bridge options can be discussed e.g. curvature, desired string height etc. For larger instruments I may advise a followup session to finalise things once the bridge has settled.
|New Bridge & Soundpost|
Making sure that the bridge and soundpost are working together effectively is at the heart of a good setup. Getting them done at the same time generally saves some time (and money.)
|Full Fingerboard Reshoot|
Price may be less if only a minor reshoot is required. (And in some cases a full reshoot may not be possible due to the amount of wood left on the fingerboard)
Price may vary depending on the level of dirt and whether strings and bridge need to be removed.
|~ £50||~ £70||~£90|
Includes minor truss rod adjustments, nut lubrication, optional string change.
Includes the standard checkup PLUS minor action height adjustment (depending on instrument) and, for banjos, head and tailpiece tension.
Major action height adjustments are price separately as they may include new parts.
|Fret Level, Crown & Polish|
Price may vary if frets are severely worn.
|New Saddle (guitar only)|
Includes intonation adjustment.
Common Instrument Services
Violin, Viola, Cello & Bass
Common setup service includes basic instrument clean, bridge check (making sure it is standing straight, aligned squarely etc.), chinrest tightening, tailpiece tweaks, nut slot depth correction to deal with uncomfortable string action in first position.
If the instrument is very dirty then more time may be required to clean it. Whilst this is partly aesthetic, a buildup of grime, especially rosin, can actually damage the varnish over time. Depending on the type and condition of the varnish, it may make sense to apply a coat of French polish or beeswax polish in order to protect and maintain the existing finish.
Work on the soundpost is the common addition to the basic setup and a ill-fitting or badly positioned post can be the root cause of many mysterious tonal issues including buzzes, wolf notes and uneven balance across the strings. It may be possible to work with the existing soundpost, however a new post will sometimes be beneficial to give the maximum scope for adjustment.
Simple action height / bridge curve alterations can often be performed with existing bridge, although a new bridge may sometimes be required if the old bridge has warped, the string height is too low or the fit is too bad to correct. Sometimes a new bridge can also generally improve the clarity of an instrument. A different style of bridge can often be used to adjust the tone as well, especially on cello.
Please note that a new cello bridge or bass bridge can take some time to settle, so in some cases it may be best to book a followup appointment in order to finalize string heights. I will advise you on the best option.
If the pegs on the instrument are sticking or slipping then it may be possible to lubricate them and perform small adjustments of the fit, however sometimes a new set is required. In severe cases it my be necessary to plug and re-create the holes if they have been worn beyond a certain point, prior to fitting a new set of pegs.
A fingerboard reshoot can be done to remove any grooves created by the strings as well as lumps and bumps which can cause buzzing and intonation issues. In some cases, the fingerboard may be too concave, leading to excessively high string action in 3rd and 4th position, regardless of how it is set at the bridge. In cases with severely worn fingerboards there may not be sufficient material left to create a perfect profile, and in this case a new fingerboard is really the best option.
Structural issues such as cracks and open seams are always worth repairing as soon as possible. Different options are possible to budget and general value of the instrument.
Guitars, Mandolins, Banjos, Ukuleles & other fretted instruments
A simple setup includes fretboard clean & fret polish, truss rod adjustment, nut slot lubrication & string change. If you fingerboard is excessively crusty, I may need to charge more for a deep clean / scrape. For mandolin and banjo, this also includes bridge position check. And for banjo specifically also includes head tension and tailpiece tension.
A more advanced setup may include action height adjustment. Either raising or lowering to try and achieve a balance of tone and playability. Some instruments may also require intonation compensation. Modifying the bridge or saddle in order to make the instrument play in tune across all strings, up and down the neck.
A fret level may be necessary when some frets are higher than others causing certain notes to buzz. The process is followed by re-establishing the top profile of the frets and polishing them. If there is visible fret-wear then this can be more of an issue, as the frets must be lowered until the marks disappear, and in some cases it may actually make more sense to replace worn frets entirely, but either way, at least a partial leveling is then required to blend them in
As with bowed instruments, a new nut is required if the old nut has broken, is worn down, or if you want to upgrade (e.g. plastic to bone.) I usually make the new nut from scratch to make sure it fits your instrument perfectly. The standard material is bone, but ebony can also work well on some instruments and may be preferred if you are opposed to animal products.
I also offer specialised services for banjo such as railroad spike installation (5th string capo), and replacing the skin. Plastic heads or natural vellum may be preferred; plastic requires less maintenance and is generally quicker to install however some players prefer a natural skin and some banjos may require it if they have non-standard dimensions. A new skin, especially a natural one, will really stretch over the first few weeks, so I would recommend you book a return visit so I can check the tension.