It can certainly be said that violin repair is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. The instrument itself must be completely cared for at all times, but if it comes to needing a repair you should always seek the help of a trained violin repair specialist. Here, we will review some of the most common issues that can cause your instrument to need repairs, as one should be familiar with minor problems to ensure that they don’t escalate to major ones.
Q: It looks like my top is starting to become unglued. What might be the problem?
The first common problem is a seam opening up. Usually, it’s the top that can come loose as most adequately glued tops are glued with a weaker form of glue than the back. There are three main reasons for a top to start to become unglued. The first is excess dryness, the next is excess moisture, and the final is simply bad repair work.
The good news is that this is a fairly easy fix at your local violin repair shop. They will typically pop the top loose from the ribs and then re-glue it in a new position.
Q: I have an issue with a sound post falling down. Any advice?
This must be reset by someone with proper training, as you can severely damage the F-holes by not using proper tools or not using the tools properly. Sound post tools can also gouge up the instrument and lead to a loss of value. If a sound post falls down, not only does it have to be set back up, it must be placed correctly to ensure the best sound for the instrument.
Q: When do I need to change the bridge of my violin?
This leads us to one of the most commonly replaced violin parts: the bridge. There are a number of different reasons why a bridge will need to be replaced. For instance, if the violin is badly warped. If the bridge is poorly fitted, too low or made of poor quality wood. Or if there was just poor workmanship completed on the violin itself. The type of bridge needed to replace your old one depends on the quality of the instrument. It should be noted that you may save money by purchasing a cheaper bridge, but you will end up paying for it in the long run in the way of less sound quality. They also tend to give out faster.
Q: I have a crack on my violin, how to fix it?
Cracking is our next problem, and it can be quite serious. You should always be on the lookout for cracking before it develops into a major crack as it will save you a ton of money and can also contribute to a better resale value if you decide to sell it.
If the wood begins to shrink too much and doesn’t pop of the ribs it could lead to undesirable cracks. If you do have cracks in your instrument never attempt to fix them yourself. Crack repairs are often highly involved and require significant training skills. If your violin is beginning to crack, don’t polish it until the cracks are repaired, as you risk rubbing dirt into the crack from cleaning and the polishing cloth leading to a more difficult repair.
Keeping a violin humidifier inside your case can also significantly reduce the chance of cracking.
Q: Can I change fingerboard by myself?
The next issue is the fingerboard of the violin. With repeated playing over time, the fingerboard will become worn out and it will develop grooves and bumps. You will find that after a fingerboard has been over-planed (the part of it that overhangs the body), it will become thin and start to drop causing a hump by the neck and body joint. With the exception of a thinned out fingerboard, pretty much all fingerboard problems can be fixed by planing, scraping, and sanding; again, only by a trained specialist.
Q: My pegs have become worn out. What to do?
Yet another issue that can pose a huge problem if action is not taken are the violin pegs. Pegs are the most used part of a violin. Each time you play, you grab the pegs and begin tuning, and after constant tuning, the pegs start to wear out. One of the main issues is that when pegs have become worn out, the peg holes suffer the same as well. Often, the pegs can be reshaped with a peg shaper and the holes redone with a reamer. With this process, the pegs can become very short, but they can still work far better after refitting. If this process can’t be done, the pegs will need to be replaced.
Q: What to do in order to keep my violin in good shape?
While all of the aforementioned repairs will need to be done by a violin repair specialist, there are still some things that you can do to keep your violin in the best possible shape.
It is important to always keep your instrument clean. Be sure to wipe the rosin off the violin after you are done playing and use a violin polish or cleaner at least once a month to prevent excess rosin and dirt build up. Never remove rosin with chemicals or rubbing compound, this is something that should only be done by a professional.
Additionally, even very good bridges can warp if they are not cared for properly, always keep your bridge straight. If it begins to tilt forward, due to the pull of the strings when tuning, simply grasp the top of the bridge and pull back until it is perpendicular with the top.
Q: Any additional tips that I should look after?
Remember to ensure that you are checking for any seam openings or crack developments, they are always easier to fix when they are small. And be sure to always use a humidifier if needed!
And last, but not least, if you are not sure about something on your violin, take it to a violin repair shop. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!