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Laatest violin repair

Posted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:24 am
by Chet Bishop
For those of you interested in such things, here ia a series of photos with text explaining the process I went through to repair a violin that had suffered trauma through a water-heater failure. ... in-repair/

I was pretty intimidated by the extent of the damage, but once I finally began, it turned out to not be quite so difficult as it seemed at first. the owner is happy and so am I.

Chet Bishop

Re: Laatest violin repair

Posted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 11:46 am
by Mark Wybierala
How long was this adventure? The instrument looks slightly smaller than full size or your fingers are very big. Is it a 3/4? I have no doubt that the violin is brighter. Could be that not all of those problem happened at the most recent incident. Although when I run into an instrument with an extensive history of repairs, the calendar doesn't go back nearly as far into the past as this violin, I find it a bit sad that there is no way that I can tell what the last repairman was thinking but I always take the time to wonder about the repair and the people. Sometimes you get a neat clue or insight.
Put a sign on your wall - "Take more photographs" Digital photography has changed everything. I'm still not totally aware that "film" in no longer an expense.

Re: Laatest violin repair

Posted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 3:06 pm
by Chet Bishop
It's not the expense-- it's just a missing link in my gray matter. Unless I plan ahead, and think, "OK, at this point I need to take some pictures..." I think of it after the fact. Maybe a sign would be a good idea.

I think the violin was full size, but it does look small in that picture. I do usually wear extra large work gloves, so maybe that is part of it. I think the squares on the floor are exactly 12", so that could be a clue as to the size of the fiddle. My thumb is a little over 1" wide, if that helps...about 27 or 28 mm.

Yes, it would be nice if we knew the history, so as to be able to figure out what they were trying to accomplish. Some of it was very puzzling.

You can easily see the edge-doubling that was done on both front and back plates...and, if you have it in your hands, you can see that the edge (outside the purfling) on the outside of the top plate has been completely replaced with a different kind of wood-- and the wood was bent to fit, so the grain goes around the violin, not parallel to the grain of the belly.

Very odd instrument, all in all...but a good learning experience. I only spent a few hours here and there--certainly less than 20 hours total. Removing the top was scary, but did not take very long. However, once I knew the enormity of the issues, I let it sit for months because I was intimidated and overwhelmed by it...besides being very busy with a number of previous commitments. Once I started in earnest it did not take very long.

Re: Laatest violin repair

Posted: Fri Jun 27, 2014 12:27 pm
by Jason Rodgers
Great job, Chet! Seeing work like this totally blows my mind: soooo many people would A) toss it, or B) pass on the challenge and feel sorry for the next sucker who tries their hand at a repair.

Saw you at the Marylhurst show, but you were deep in conversation. Catch you next time!

Re: Laatest violin repair

Posted: Fri Jun 27, 2014 2:18 pm
by Chet Bishop
Thanks, Jason! I wish you had stopped and chatted. I didn't sell anything all weekend, so a visit certainly couldn't have hurt. :-)

Re: Laatest violin repair

Posted: Sun Aug 31, 2014 12:33 pm
by Patrick Hanna
I haven't clicked into "bowed instruments" in quite some time. Today I did and I found your thread. I know very little about violins, but I think this one is particularly interesting and quite beautiful in its own way. I notice some things that seem a bit different about it. For example, the points on the c-bouts don't seem nearly as pronounced (to my eyes) as is the norm. I would not have realized that the f-holes are farther apart than normal if that weren't mentioned. I just noticed that something looked a little odd about them. That's another feature that still seems quite pretty to me, even if it's not normal. The center strip down the back looks very odd to me, but again, not unattractive. Just abnormal. I was fascinated by your work on the scroll, too. I know that scroll grafts and bushed peg holes are pretty common on old violins. I imagine the bushing job is fairly straight forward for an experienced repair person, but I'd have loved to see some in-process photos. I understand the process completely in a sort of theoretical way. I've just never seen pictures of it being done. One of my friends plays with a major US symphony. Her VERY old violin has a neck angle so flat (or it's set so deep--I'm not sure which) that the underside of her fingerboard is scooped along its length so it'll clear the arch in the top plate. But her instrument sounds wonderful. Obviously, violins fascinate me even though I know so little about them. Thank you for linking us to your repair.

Re: Laatest violin repair

Posted: Mon Sep 01, 2014 2:13 pm
by Steve Senseney
Thanks for sharing. As I get older, I respect older instruments!

Re: Laatest violin repair

Posted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 1:09 pm
by Chet Bishop
Thanks, fellows;
Here is an excerpt from an e-mail the owner sent me a few days ago. She has been playing it in a local orchestra, and is back to teaching violin again:

"Do you have any idea at all how much I appreciate you for restoring that old German violin? I could thank you a hundred times each day because you made it so much better than it ever was in my lifetime. Maybe a hundred years ago it was this good as it is now, but by the time I acquired that violin in 1971, it was.......well, you know very well what had been done and what had not been done, then the final last straw when it got the steam bath (when the hot water pipe got the pin hole in the wall behind the closet and you know that story)."

Sounds as though she is happy with the work.

I'm satisfied. :-)

P.S. By the way, I have become convinced that the violin was indeed reduced from some larger instrument (viola most likely) which would explain why the wood has been replaced all the way around both plates, front and back. I'm assuming they made a mistake somewhere along the line and the back ended up too narrow, hence the center strip that goes all the way through the plate and from end to end.

Odd one, for sure. She really loves it, though.