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I dropped my violin and part of the body shattered off...

Instruments: How do I go about fixing it?

From Ed Barreto
Posted March 20, 2005 at 06:47 AM

I tried to illustrate the damage here (not actual picture)
http://img234.exs.cx/img234/2081/untitled24mm.jpg

I was picking up the thing to got to a lesson and the case was unzippered (how easy it is to forget) and the velcro was not enough to keep the violin inside. So the case opened and dropped the violin to the floor (why the heck isnt the handle on the other side of the zipper so that if that happens I have time to notice, not to mentioned my body can stop the opening...idiot case makers).

An extra computer monitor was on the floor at that time and the violin hit the corner of it. The damage was done at the bottom of the body, half a centimeter away from the brige to about 1 1/2 centimer away from the lowest part of the tailpiece, luckily on the side opposite the chinrest.

As soon as it fell, I had no time to react. I am lucky it did not break at the point of the bridge.
Interestingly, it stayed in tune after this happened.

I dont know what you call it, but the curved part of the body, "sandwiched" between the top and bottom of the body (the part that the tailpiece is connected)...I dont know what else to describe it as. Anyways, that part of was not at all affected. Only the top part of the body was damaged (just think of the violin as lying down, with the scroll gently touching the ground). It came off easily and splinted off. There is only 1 piece that came off. The soundpost is still in place.

I know the repair for something like this would cost a lot. My teacher told me to call a friend of her's that would give me a good deal (but I know this will end up being more than what I paid for the thing).

Would all I need to do is wood-glue the piece back together and use it's miserable life up until I get a new one?

Seeing that the strings were in tune were an indicator that the tailpiece exerts little pressure on that specific area of the body (am I correct on this?), but I am concerened about the bridge. The part that was broken is split right next to the bridge. In that side of the violin, there seems to be no structual support for the bridge, but on the other side there seems to be a rib running down the length of the body. The soundpost seems to be the support for the other side, i've no clue.

Help me here...

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on March 20, 2005 at 07:25 AM
I can't visualize the damage from the text, and the picture you mocked up just looks like half of it's blasted away. It can't be that bad in reality. If you put up a more descriptive picture one of the makers might dare to help you with a "good enough" fix. Perhaps under a pseudonym. I bet the word "Elmers" comes up.
From Christian Vachon
Posted on March 20, 2005 at 01:00 PM
Hi,

LOL! Not at what happened but the way you relate the story. I don't think that the case makers are the idiots... they just aren't musicians in musicians' mind.

Seriously though, you should have it professionally fixed by a good luthier ASAP! A badly done repair will make the value drop even further and render the instrument useless. I am really sorry that this happened. If the instrument has value, then get it repaired. If it costs more to get it fixed than it's worth, then decide consequently. But please don't do what some people do and try to do it yourself. You will simply ruin the instrument. The glue luthiers use is a special kind of glue and is unlike anything available "around".

GOOD LUCK! Cheers?!

From Nick Bleisch
Posted on March 20, 2005 at 05:37 PM
oh nooooooo! Is it insured? The same thing happened to my second violin made by my great great great grandfather only it was because I set it on the piano momentarily and a cat knocked it over First it hit the piano keys then it hit the bench then it hit the floor. Nothing actually came off except a chip of wood but the neck is slightly separated from the body and there's a crack It would cost too much to fix, more than the violin's worth.

Maybe this is your moment to get a new violin?

From Sue Donim
Posted on March 20, 2005 at 06:11 PM
I'm no expert in this field, but I've seen a fair few injuries. If I've understood your description correctly, and if the crack is on the soundpost side, it won't matter too much that the soundpost is still in place; the crack will most likely not withstand the pressure on the soundpost. Plus the crack runs very close to the F hole.
From Ed Barreto
Posted on March 20, 2005 at 06:27 PM
The soundpost exerts much pressure on the top?
I thought the top was curved prior to fitting it on the body, and the soundpost merely fits snugly.
Its not just a crack, the white part on the picture denotes a whole chunk of wood that was taken off the top (the curved side is completely intact). I wish I could get a hold of our digital camera to take a shot of it.

I probably will just wood glue the thing...

I paid 60 dollars for it, so its not really anything bad, I just need to get practicing as soon as possible. It's a shame too, it was such a cheap violin but the tone was that of a 500 dollar one (i've tried many cheap violins with those nasty accentuated mid-frequencies).
So I was kinda attached to it.

I'll probably just hold on to it until I can order one of those student violins from southwest strings ~200 dollars. Its from my own pocket, I can't afford anything great.

From Christian Vachon
Posted on March 20, 2005 at 07:04 PM
Hi,

Ed: That's such a sad story. As for getting something cheap, keep an eye out on EBay. Sometimes, I've been told that there are some amazing deals there, and you might be able to get something better than anything for 200$ at Southwest Strings.

Cheers!

From Rita Livs
Posted on March 20, 2005 at 07:30 PM
Ed, I am sorry for what've happened with your violin. If your violin is really costs $60, fix it by self. There are lots of books about repair violins with descriptions of how to glue parts and what kinds of glue to use for it. If you have some good book store in your area, just find some book like 'Violin Repair Guide' by Michael Atria and spend some time to read it inside the store (I always do it).
Good luck. BTW that's not the end of the world.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on March 20, 2005 at 11:41 PM
Ed, the soundpost provides an opposing force to the pressure of the bridge.

I had a thought. Rather than doing this yourself, consider taking it to the repairman and tell him you don't want to spend much on it and tell him how you want the repair done. You don't want the top taken off, don't want it cleated, doesn't need to be invisible, etc. It might be inexpensive that way and at least it will have the right glue and might look neater than what you could do yourself. A big plus is that the damage wasn't really structural judging by your description. It might really not turn out to be that big a deal. If it split down the grain the whole length of the bout like I suspect it did, it might not even end up looking that bad. When you get it back it might sound strange for a week and then get back to normal.

From Ed Barreto
Posted on March 21, 2005 at 04:32 AM
"As for getting something cheap, keep an eye out on EBay. "
The thing is, most of the manufactured cheap violins are really crappy, so I suppose you mean buying used. I might consider that, but it would be nice to try it before I buy. Thats why I trust buying new, but it's hard to find something decent. Getting a decent used might yield a violin with a defect. So I dont know.

"If you have some good book store in your area, just find some book like 'Violin Repair Guide' by Michael Atria "

Thanks for the title. I am going to go look for that one, i'll try to memorize as much as I can ;).

From Benjamin Eby
Posted on March 21, 2005 at 08:35 AM
How much would you be able to spend, Ed? I recently bought a violin off ebay, and frankly it sounds as good or better than any I've had, and I've had one in the $1200 range and four in the $3,000 - $4,000 range. Could have been dumb luck, though. It cost me $305 case and shipping included. The seller is Violin Depot. The setup and packing were great, BTW.

Benjamin

P.S. I am in NO way connected with Violin Depot or any of its affiliates. I just love typing that. It makes me feel so warm and fuzzy.

From Lisa Marsnik
Posted on March 21, 2005 at 09:01 AM
Just gotta say that everytime I read the title of this thread I read:
I dropped my violin and part of my body shattered off...

How awful!
Lisa

From Ed Barreto
Posted on March 21, 2005 at 11:54 PM
"Just gotta say that everytime I read the title of this thread I read:
I dropped my violin and part of my body shattered off..."

yes, the violin was so heavy it took a chunk off of my leg. :P. I wonder if anybody has sustained any immediate injuries by playing or dropping the violin to themselves rather than their instrument.

"How much would you be able to spend, Ed?"

300 would be sort of stretching it, as far as the time it takes to make that is involved. Being still in high school, I manage to scrape up ~300 dollars a year. 200 dollars would be a lot more of a comfortable of a buying situation, but i'm seriously considering the name you mentioned. Since it's an actual company, im more willing to invest into it.

From Sue Donim
Posted on March 22, 2005 at 02:14 AM
Ed, I once whacked myself in the chin while swinging my violin into position. I had a scab for a week afterwards. It was especially mortifying that a) I was twenty-seven, and b) I was in a lesson.
From Rita Livs
Posted on March 22, 2005 at 02:33 AM
Ed, actually, violin IS part of our body when we play... I can't imagine my life without my violin.
From Benjamin Eby
Posted on March 22, 2005 at 03:07 AM
Ouch Sue! Once when I was a kid, I played some unaccompanied Bach for a class at a university, and a lot of the music faculty were in attendance. After the performance, the head of their string dept. approached me in the hall, said some complementary things about my playing, and then said, "You know, it's not necessary to hold your mouth open while you play." I was SO emberrased! But I'm glad he said something; I've never done it since. Sorry for going off topic. And Rita, ditto on that. I couldn't live without my violin.

Benjamin

From Lisa Marsnik
Posted on March 22, 2005 at 03:36 AM
Ed,
I was thinking more of my heart!! :-P back.
I'm really so sorry that happened.
Lisa
From Ed Barreto
Posted on March 22, 2005 at 04:45 AM
"Ed,
I was thinking more of my heart!!"

It actually has. Most of it is shattered off...
I don't think ill be able to replace the violin, much less the void it's left in me...the part that shattered off of the violin is as much of my soul that went with it *sob*...

It actually will be funny to get my ear more acquainted with expensive violins and then berate that nasty sounding splint of wood. Then again, my long time orchestra member teacher said the tone was marvelous at that price. It has a special significance. It was probably the one that the conveyer belt worker spent more time on it because he was in a good mood. -_-

Ben,
I have the horrible habit of clenching my jaw (not as embarrasing as having the mouth open), but still something I have to get rid of.


What's maddening about the whole situation is I havent been able to play the thing. Im sitting there playing strings tuned at the first octave, they sound like an old man under screeching rubber.

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on March 22, 2005 at 04:51 AM
Ed, the jaw clenching problem is serious. Not only does it totally screw your playing, more importantly it will lead to tooth loss.
From Rita Livs
Posted on March 22, 2005 at 04:49 AM
Ed, what if you rent a violin for one month until you fix yours? It shouldn't be expensive. I paid $15 in a month for my daughter's instrument.
From Ed Barreto
Posted on March 22, 2005 at 05:26 AM
"Ed, what if you rent a violin for one month until you fix yours? It shouldn't be expensive. I paid $15 in a month for my daughter's instrument. "

Another worthy suggestion. 15$ doesnt sound bad at all.

Thank you fellow humans for all the suggestions, you have all provided me many options to take here. Thank you.

From Lisa Marsnik
Posted on March 22, 2005 at 08:01 AM
Hey Ed,
A lot of violin shops rent to own violins. At the shop of my friends, they rent student violins (nice ones that sound just great) and all the money paid in rent goes toward the purchase price of the violin. That could be a good way for you to go.
Lisa
From Bill Platt
Posted on March 22, 2005 at 03:11 PM
Hi Ed,

From your drawing, it looks like the cracked off piece actually shares a boundary with the f-hole. Are there any loose splinters, or is it very clean? Where the piece popped off of the rib, is the gluing surface clean, or jagged? What happened to the purfling where in crosses the break? Have you left the strings tenstioned? If so, does the piece still fit in place? (Whatever you do with the strings, try to help to maintan the fit of the piece ontp the violin).

The hide glue used for building a violin is water soluble. It is also re-activatable. Fresh hot hide glue will soften what is there, and it will all go back toether. I have a lot of hide glue, I would be happy to send you some.

Perhaps you could glue the piece back in place yourself. I could also loan you some clamps. They are special purpose clamps designed for glueing the plates to the ribs.

Hide glue really isn't all that difficult to use. Just practice on some scrap wood. I can send you some tongue depressors for that, and for stirring it. In fact, I think it is fun--and non-toxic, which is so nice after working with epoxy.

And if the attempt fails, no problem, just soften the joint with some warm water in a slightly damp sponge, and try again.

Also, if the soundpost falls, I think you would probably want to drop the string tension immediately to prevent warping. and it is easy to make a sound post setter out of a coathanger.

What do you think?

Best regards,

Bill

From Ed Barreto
Posted on March 23, 2005 at 12:00 AM
Bill,
I thank you very much for your help, especially about the hide glue.

From the f-hole area, it is a clean cut, looks like an ax went through it cleanly. The part that is cut off from the rest of the top near the rib, it is jagged and semi-splinted.

The part that is seperated from the rib, there seems to be no evidence of apparent gluing. I see a very fine, thing, clear covering, it looks like it had good reason to splint off with that little amount of glue. It seems that the part of the top connected to the rib came off, which as it was coming off, it fell off at an angle and took a chunk out, all in a period of .5 seconds. (earthquake just happened...)

Where the break happened, the purfling was cleanly cut off. The splints in that area expose the purfling a bit, but is still connected to the piece.

The piece still fits in place, I have taken the tension of all my strings.

My dad, being a "jack-of-all-trades" has some hide glue and clamps (I suppose they can be applied to the violin, as they have those padded contact surfaces).

Do the strings exert tension in that area of the body?

From Ed Barreto
Posted on March 23, 2005 at 06:28 AM
I will probably call tomorrow about it, and then proceed on gluing it myself.
From Ed Barreto
Posted on March 23, 2005 at 10:29 PM
Okay, I am now definetely gluing the thing. Bill, can you tell me the basics of starting this thing?

I called the guy, and he said, whatever he's going to do, he's going to charge more than what I paid for it.

From Bill Platt
Posted on March 24, 2005 at 03:24 PM
HI Ed,

I'd be happy to talk to you on the phone:

mail me at by first name, at plattdesign.net with your number.

(You have hide glue from your father, yes? Is it the "liquid" kind that comes in a bottle, or is it the real thing, little granules/pellets? You want to be sure the violin is warm--it will give you more "open" time with the glue--so 75 or 80 degrees--if you can get the room up to that temp it will help--do this gradually. You really should make some experiments with the hide glue first.

There is some really good information at the following links: http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/Luthier/Data/Materials/hideglue.html

read all of the links in the document as well. It is pretty much how I make up my batches. (I have a photographic thermometer, and I do the mixing in a pyrex measuring cup, and wash it out when I'm finished -- non-toxic).

Also http://deller.com/newpage8.htm

To practice, take some freshly planed pieces of scrap wood, and glue them together. This will give you an idea of how to understand the "gelling" process, the speed with which the glue cools and gels, and how the glue behaves under clamps. Let your test pieces dry overnight, and them pull them apart to see how they worked. )

regards,

Bill

From Ed Barreto
Posted on March 24, 2005 at 11:29 PM
Thank you much with your help Bill. My father just went ahead and did it, heh. Though I messed around with the wood glue (it was the ground up kind, the little granules)

We used an assortment of ropes and clamps. It turned out rather nicely as well. The oozed out glue was carefully shaved off.

All that is visible is a little hairline.

Thanks again for the information!

From Rita Livs
Posted on March 25, 2005 at 04:21 AM
You made it!!!
From Rita Livs
Posted on March 25, 2005 at 04:18 AM
I'm glad to hear it. Hope this violin brings you good luck.
From Ed Barreto
Posted on March 25, 2005 at 11:33 PM
Thank you rita, I was at first very angry at not being able to play the thing. Now I guess it's all good. :)
From mike garner
Posted on March 25, 2005 at 11:42 PM
probably best to look into bying something better now I reckon. You will always find this violin annoying now. Cut your losses and go for it. Borrow a grand or two and get something really nice. Mike
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on March 25, 2005 at 11:47 PM
Why would you always find it annoying now?
From Ed Barreto
Posted on March 26, 2005 at 12:07 AM
Heh, it sounds a bit better than it did. It seems to have lessened the midfrequencies a bit and enhanced the highs slightly.
From mike garner
Posted on March 26, 2005 at 02:21 PM
I suppose it was a bit of an exageration to say that (always find it annoying now) But we only have one life and we should play on the best possible instrument we can afford in my opinion, and somehow one with a big crack repaird is not going to be as satisfying mentally as one that isnt repaired. I am assuming the violin wasn't something great to start with. If so then of course repair by a brilliant expert is the best option. Or am I talking rubbish?? It is quite possible knowing me
From Ed Barreto
Posted on March 27, 2005 at 06:57 AM
I fixed it myself, and surprisingly (these sorts of things bother me all the time) I dont mind the hairline at all. I just want to play it.
From mike garner
Posted on March 27, 2005 at 11:26 PM
good to hear ed,
Mike
From Bill Platt
Posted on March 28, 2005 at 03:00 PM
Ed,

Congtratulations on making the repair. I am glad it all went back together nicely--and even improved the sound!

Now your fiddle is really yours--in a way that it was not before--because you had a hand in making it.

Regards,

Bill


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