Monday, February 11, 2008

Inside Repair Job: Opening Violins

Our latest repair project involves taking off the top of a violin and cleating together an extended crack from saddle. It's a common one that we see on the tops of instruments and can be properly repaired good knowledgeable hands. I would discourage any amateurs that think a quick filling of the old epoxy and wood color can bring the instrument up to par ;)

Besides the crack that needs to be repaired, the one aspect of the job that customers get worked up about is when they hear that the top needs to be taken off (note: not ever crack means a top removal but for this particular case it did). Opening up the top can seem like a traumatic experience for the musician that's standing by to watch. It's kind of like a family standing by to watch their family member having open heart surgery.

In reality, under the guidance of trained professionals, removing tops are generally not a difficult task in repair. After all, string instruments are designed to come apart at the seams under seasonal stress.
[Opening up the Violin Seams]

How are the tops of violins removed? First the hide glue between the seams need to be opened up. Lester draws out a syringe from his tools and shoots it up with a low concentration of alcohol. The needle's small droplets are carefully shot into the seams. After a few minutes, you can start to hear a crackling noise from within the instrument. The seams are opening up.

[Spreading open the top]

Then pressure needs to be applied to lift the top from the seams, usually with a tool acting like a spreader wedge. A little bit of alcohol and a little bit of pressure is applied on and off through out the whole process until finally the wedge can fit between the top and seam. Then more of the same as the wedge makes its way across the seams to lift the entire top off.

Good luck on opening the rest of it Les! He'll be happy with this little repair job bonus after he's done:)

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