Yearly Archives: 2023

67 posts

This violin came into the workshop because there was a nasty buzz coming from an open seam, and the owner was generally dissatisfied with the tone especially on the bass end. It turned out that the soundpost also needed replacing (a soundpost patch had been fitted a few years ago, and the wood had stretched a bit resulting in a loose post fit.) The endpin needed replacing as the hole had become oval and it was on the verge of pulling out, and the instrument needed new strings.
After doing all of this, the violin as a whole sounded more powerful but the bass end was still a bit weak. Checking the bass bar position, it because clear that it was position very far inside the bridge foot, leading to a lot of the vibrations of the G and D strings getting dissipated into the less resonant area outside the bar. Moving the bridge a little toward the treble side resulted in a low more low end coming through, so after consulting with the owner we decided to move the endpin a little in order to get everything centralised without uneven tension.
It’s odd how repairs come in groups; I’ve had three cases like this recently, and before that it was a rash of pulled-out necks.

This viola came in because there was an unexplained buzz and a general lack of good tone. I discovered that the neck angle of the instrument had pulled up, resulting in a very low elevation and uncomfortably high strings even with a very low bridge.
I decided it was best to do a neck reset and fit a new bridge, and I managed to get the elevation up from 25mm to 31.5!
I also narrowed down the probable source of the buzz to a loose seam between the back and the side. I thought it was only in one small area, but when I came to repair it I realised that one whole side of the instrument was on the verge of coming unglued, due to rib shrinkage resulting in a very large overhang (unusual as it’s usually the plates which shrink, diminishing the overhang.)
The owner was also find it a struggle to tune with the pegs, and after having used geared tuners on her violin she was keen to try those on the viola too. I agreed to fit a set of these, although it turned out to be a slightly bigger job than expected because the old peg holes were so large that they needed bushing and re-drilling in order to accommodate even the largest size of geared tuner!
(I also fitted a new soundpost because the old one wasn’t offering sufficient sound transmission between the front and back. A loose soundpost can also be a potential source of buzzing when it leaves the front plate too free to vibrate out of control.)

This bass came in because the owner wanted to see if they could get a bit more power out of it as well as eliminating some troublesome buzzes. We spent several hours experimenting with various options before deciding that the best approach would be to fit a new soundpost and raise the bridge slightly with shims under the feet. I also found quite a lot of lumps and bumps in the fingerboard, so I decided to give it a partial reshoot. (It was so un-level that the strings were too low at the nut whilst being uncomfortably high in first position, and buzzing in second position!) After tweaking the board I also tweaked the nut, as it was overly high with very deep string slots – another potential source of buzzes.

Unfortunately the maker had obviously rushed the last bit of carving the top, and so the fluting was very deep (in many places light was visible through the wood!) This meant that there was an area where a crack had opened. I managed to glue the crack, but without taking the top off the instrument there aren’t many straightforward ways to reinforce it (the wood isn’t flat enough to easily fit a cleat externally – a process which is finicky at the best of times!)

This violin came in because the owner needed a bow rehair. However when we looked at the instrument together, it was clear that the bridge was very bent over and was on the verge of snapping – unfortunately it had gone long past the point of being able to be set upright. If the bridge were to snap, it would render the instrument unplayable immediately and possible cause other damage, so in the end we decided that in the interests of budget the best approach was to leave the bow as it was and prioritise fitting a new bridge and soundpost (as it became clear it would benefit a lot from one as well). I suspected that the bridge and post would actually make a much more immediate different to the tone and response than the rehair – the bow is ragged but still useable for a while.

I had this 1960s Czech bass in last week because the neck had popped out. Amongst other things, this was possibly due to the purfling around the neck joint being fitted so deep that there was no proper support for the button, which had come off along with the neck. We decided that given the severity of the break vs the overall value of the instrument, but far the safest and most sensible thing to do was to bolt the neck back in. Hopefully it should remain solid for many decades to come.

This violin had ended up storred in an attic for decades, so it needed quite a lot doing to it! The old soundpost didn’t fit, and the bridge was in terrible condition (in fact it’s probably best for the instrument that the strings weren’t left under tension.) Also the nut was missing and the tailgut (which was actual gut!) had snapped. Also the neck angle was excessively high (32mm), and the pegs were unusable. And the fingerboard was quite lumpy as well.

In the end it was necessary to bush the peg holes in order to get new pegs fitting well. I fitted a new set of pegs and made a new nut. I reshot the fingerboard and adjusted the neck to achieve a better angle and fitted a new soundpost and bridge as well as replacing the tailgut and of course fitting new strings. Quite exciting to hear the violin able to play for the first time in many years!

This cello had another cello dropped on it! Luckily the damage was fairly minor – a crack in the side and an unglued seam. I got everything repaired and also fitted a new soundpost as well as adjusting the string heights at bridge and nut.

This violin came into the workshop because the owner wasn’t fully satisfied with the tone and playability. It turned out that the soundpost was badly positioned, which was the main issue. Also the fingerboard needed reshooting, and was very twisted toward the bass side of the instrument creating the need to reach over quite far to play the G string.

I reshot the board and managed to mostly address the twist at the same time as well as tweaking the width at the end to make it point slightly more centrally relative to the body.

The string slots at the nut had also been placed very far off-centre in order to account for one of the pegbox walls being overly thick.

Unfortunately this was the opposite asymmetry to that which existed in the bass bar and bridge placement, leading to the strings visibly running diagonally across the neck. We decided the best approach was to tastefully widen the pegbox enough that a symmetrical nut could be fitted.

The final piece of the puzzle was tweaking the location of the endpin hole, which was actually fitted off centre relative to the body anyway and was putting uneven strain on the tailpiece. (Oh and some bridge modifications to account for the tweaked fingerboard twist!)

This viola came in because the neck had come unglued. Thankfully the glue had failed without any wood breaking, so it was a fairly easy fix. I also treated it to its first new soundpost since 2002 when it was made!

This violin came in for some general setup optimisations as the E string was sounding quite strident and the G quite muffled. As usual, the soundpost was the main culprit. I also adjusted the bridge and restrung it. It’s been quite a difficult violin to optimise due to how flat the top arch is, which tends to make it err towards shrillness, but hopefully it should be a lot more balanced now.