How to reattach a violin neck?

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How to reattach a violin neck?

Postby G. M. Seigmund » Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:00 pm

Local music store (where my daughter takes voice lessons, has me doing some repair work. Mainly new nuts, saddles, reattaching loose binding, etc. I have in one hand the body and in the other the neck. Any suggestions, clean and re-glue? I build with HHG so thats not an issue. Any and all suggestions will be much appreciated.
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Re: How to reattach a violin neck?

Postby Anders Eliasson » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:05 am

If the glue rests are HHG, you can reuse what there is but I would remove some of the gluerests and do a fresh mix of HHG.
If the glue is something else, I would remove it all and I wouldnt reglue with HHG.
The violin doesnt look like its a very good or expensive one. So if everything else goes wrong, you can rough out the glue rests and reset the neck and glue it in with a thick epoxy. Epoxy has the advantage that it fills gaps and that it does get weaker when it does. . Its a bit of a violin butcher method though. :(
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Re: How to reattach a violin neck?

Postby Chet Bishop » Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:22 am

Do NOT use epoxy. What you have there is an easy repair, the way it is: Epoxy will make the instrument unrepairable, permanently.

Use warm water and a brush to clean all the old glue out of the seams, and reglue the seams first, so that the corpus is solid.
Then do the same thing to the neck joint. Dry, and perfectly fitted, the button should match the heel seamlessly smooth, and the neck joint should feel snug and fit perfectly. The height of the fingerboard above the front plate should be between 19mm and 23mm, with 21mm being optimum. (This varies a lot, but if you are getting something way outside this range, something needs to change...these are the numbers I use.)

Make sure the fingerboard is centered on the front plate.

Use hot hide glue, please. Nothing else. Clamp securely. Clean up with warm water on a rag/brush.

Pretty easy fix. There are lots of experts on this forum...maybe some of them will chime in.
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Re: How to reattach a violin neck?

Postby G. M. Seigmund » Wed Nov 07, 2012 7:32 pm

Chet Bishop wrote:Do NOT use epoxy. What you have there is an easy repair, the way it is: Epoxy will make the instrument unrepairable, permanently.

Use warm water and a brush to clean all the old glue out of the seams, and reglue the seams first, so that the corpus is solid.
Then do the same thing to the neck joint. Dry, and perfectly fitted, the button should match the heel seamlessly smooth, and the neck joint should feel snug and fit perfectly. The height of the fingerboard above the front plate should be between 19mm and 23mm, with 21mm being optimum. (This varies a lot, but if you are getting something way outside this range, something needs to change...these are the numbers I use.)

Make sure the fingerboard is centered on the front plate.

Use hot hide glue, please. Nothing else. Clamp securely. Clean up with warm water on a rag/brush.

Pretty easy fix. There are lots of experts on this forum...maybe some of them will chime in.


Thanks for the response. I use nothing but HHG on my guitars and would never use epoxy on a joint that potentially will need disassembly.
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Re: How to reattach a violin neck?

Postby Michael Lewis » Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:09 am

I think Chet covered it all very nicely. Let me reinforce his suggestion to clean and reglue the seams of the top and back to the neck block and ribs first and let it dry thoroughly before setting the neck. From the pic this violin has had seam 'repair' in that area previously, and not done too well. You can see what looks like dried glue in the seams next to the mortise, hot water and a stiff brush help here. Any glue squeeze out or drips must be cleaned off immediately or they will pull the finish off the wood as they dry, as can be seen right there from the previous work.
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Re: How to reattach a violin neck?

Postby Brad Dorsey » Thu Nov 22, 2012 12:23 am

I think that the fit between the neck and the back button is most important factor in resisting the string tension to hold the neck in securely. I very often find that this joint is poorly fitted in a violin whose neck has pulled out like yours. You should check the mating surfaces of the neck and the button with a straight edge and flatten them if necessary. You need to make sure that the fingerboard will be centered on the body of the instrument when you glue the neck in. (And defining the "center" of an asymmetric instrument can be a challenge in itself.) You also need to make sure that the fingerboard height projected to the bridge position will be correct. And it would also be nice if the neck length (defined as the distance between the top edge and the narrow end of the fingerboard) is correct. And also the way the playing surface of the fingerboard is twisted (or not) in relationship to the body.

Achieving all of these measurements and alignments often involves changing or refining the gluing surfaces of the neck, upper block, top, ribs and back button. In some situations this can be done by removing existing wood; in others it requires adding new wood. It is impossible to visually judge how well the interior of the joint between the neck and the back button fit together, because you can't see into the joint. A trick I developed is to use a small thin piece of steel shim stock as a feeler gage to judge how well the interior of this joint fits.

One always hopes to be able to just clean off the old glue then glue the neck back in, but I rarely find the job to be as simple as that.
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Re: How to reattach a violin neck?

Postby G. M. Seigmund » Sat Jan 05, 2013 9:35 am

Thanks to everyone for the advice.
Success!
I very carefully cleaned all the old hide glue off all the exposed surfaces. Also cleaned out three suspicious looking joints on the body and reglued. DId a dry fit, needed just a little bit of scraping on the neck, and then glued her back together all with HHG. The owner says it sounds better than when he bought it:) Its going to be the "shop" fiddle" if a student is having some trouble with their instrument they get to play the strad.

Interesting exercise, I had never handled a fiddle before much less worked on one, tuning was interesting to say the least with the friction pegs.

Any decent books on building/repair?
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Re: How to reattach a violin neck?

Postby Chet Bishop » Sat Jan 05, 2013 6:11 pm

I always have people begin with Henry Strobel's book "Violin Making, Step-By-Step". It is pretty straight-forward, does not take you into any bad practices, and you can produce a nice classical violin on your first try, if you can really follow directions.

The next step up is the Johnson-Courtnall book, "the Art of Violin Making"--much more juicy, in terms of color photos, etc. Personally, I think if I had gotten that book first, I might never have made a violin, because I would have spent my time drooling over the book. Henry's books are much more pedestrian, and matter-of-fact. Besides, his book comes with a drawing-- a plan-- a pattern, so that you are ready to begin. The J/C book does not,and you have to go find a pattern from which to work.

There are some very good books on repair, too, but I personally think you would do well to build three or four from scratch, for a good foundation in technique, before you take on any serious repairs. OTOH, you could buy a bunch of broken fiddles, and start practicing repairs that way.
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Re: How to reattach a violin neck?

Postby Barry Guest » Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:20 pm

I may be late into this thread, but it seems that the violin pictured needs more that a neck re-attachment. Those plates look seriously compromised - even terminal!
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