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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: What is the worst thing you've broken, when it comes to your fiddle??

October 12, 2012 at 4:14 PM

We're all human, and so it happens: we break something on our valuable violin. Sometimes it's pure physics, like the bridge snaps on its own or the tip simply snaps off while you are playing. Other times, it's clearly your fault: you fumble the rosin onto the cement floor and it shatters like glass; you sit on your violin; your luthier accidentally lights your bow on fire…sometimes the stories can be quite interesting!

For me, I had two major mishaps as a teenager, both ending in broken bows. In one case, I was walking up steps at a concert and clumsily got my feet tangled in my dangling bow. I tripped over it and snapped it clear in half. The other case, I'd argue, wasn't my fault! I was playing with a cheap bow from my grandmother's attic, and as I was playing, the tip simply snapped off! I think it was 100 years old, made of cheap wood, and ready to go.

What are your stories? Please vote and then share your mishaps!

From Emily Grossman
Posted on October 12, 2012 at 6:26 PM
Well, you've already heard my story. Worst nightmare ever when I dropped my bow and the tip popped off. I'm so glad it was fixable!
From Kathryn Woodby
Posted on October 12, 2012 at 6:55 PM
Bridge for myself. Had a student drop a violin and the whole fingerboard came off. Can't say i was very sympathetic, as it was one of those who really needed a wake up call that he wasn't playing a toy!
From Paul Deck
Posted on October 12, 2012 at 8:16 PM
I snapped a bow about 3 inches from the tip. Of course when you do this, some of the wood is lost in the zone of the fracture, so if you want to repair it, then the bow ends up shorter. So the luthier took the tip of a different broken bow and attached it. He cut both at a very grazing angle so that the glue surface would be larger. Thinking about it now, I realize that can't be easy. The repair held for 20 years. Let's just say, I came unglued before my bow did!

Then another time I had a stupendous upbow moment and shattered off one of the corners, and the luthier fixed that too.

I was just a kid when these things happened, but you don't forget such things.

From Juan Manuel Ruiz
Posted on October 12, 2012 at 8:28 PM
I broke my first couple of rosin cakes, one by the classic "ouch, dropped" method, and the other one by sawing it with the bow until I made a small crevice in it. I had not done my research back then...

I also had a few cheap Chinese strings (my first violin's A and E) snap on my face and jump very close to my right eye, which I think was the universe's way of motivating me to buy some good ones.

And I also dropped (meaning: slammed) the bridge against the body of the violin, accidentally, when trying to adjust it. Panic. Several times. Fortunately it didn't break anything, but it did make me see the "stop tinkering with this unless it's really necessary" sign.

It seems that, when I chose to study the violin, I forgot that I am one of the clumsiest people I have ever seen...

From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on October 12, 2012 at 10:34 PM
When I was starting out, I broke multiple strings by turning the peg in the wrong direction. It was actually my daughter who broke my rosin, simply playing with it. But I got a severe lecture from my teacher about letting my daughter touch the contents of my violin case.
From Thomas Cooper
Posted on October 13, 2012 at 1:15 AM
All of the above?
From Patrick Tinney
Posted on October 13, 2012 at 2:58 AM
When I first acquired a violin over 20 years ago I treated it like a guitar. I took all the strings off and cleaned it. I was able to put the sound post back in, but it was some 20 years of non-use later that I discovered that was not something I should have done. But through sheer dumb luck I did not damage the instrument.

I have had an E string whip past my right eye, but I checked the ear drum selection.

I do not know why it is that I find I have known several women with extreme high frequency sensitivity. One lady couldn’t go into stores with certain types of security systems. A former choir director didn’t appreciate the sopronino recorder (think piccolo), not to mention that Easter rehearsal when I brought my glockenspiel and the too hard of a mallet.

My wife not only hates high pitches, but she thinks orchestral instruments are too loud, and don’t get her started on pipe organs.

So about the time she’s asking me about the volume of the violin (I had just restarted playing again) I went and wiped the rosin off the strings with a handkerchief, SCREECH. She not only slapped the sides of her head covering her ears, she jumped back a couple of feet.

I should have known better. When I had a children’s choir over twenty years ago I used a deep bodied Ovation style guitar (a black Celebrity) and if I got within about four feet of the children all their hands went up to their ears. How was I to know? I was behind the thing.

From Jonathan Ellenbrand
Posted on October 13, 2012 at 8:04 AM
I've smashed three on stage deliberately just for show. It really feels good. They were all cheap violins...I'm no hendrix but i'm going to light one on fire one day, outdoors of course.
From Mendy Smith
Posted on October 13, 2012 at 5:04 PM
If it counts, my finger :(
From LaVette Allen
Posted on October 13, 2012 at 4:58 PM
I've had two unfortunate incidents in my life where I've broken my viola. Yes, I'm a violist. :) I play violin as well. Anyway, the first time, my dog actually broke my viola. It's true! It really happened that way! I had my viola on top of a bunk bed and my dog liked looking out of the window so he jumped up on the very top where I had it laying. Needless to say the viola came crashing down to the floor. It was in pieces. :(
The second incident happened in college the day I got my braces off. I was in a practice room at school and I was wearing this really soft sweater. I stopped to adjust my music so I put the viola under my right arm. Apparently I didn't have as good a grip on it as I thought I did and it slide from under my arm and onto the floor. The entire neck came out and I practically screamed. It was a blessing in disguise though because after I got it repaired it sounded better than ever! I still play that viola solely to this day and get tons of compliments on the beautiful tone it produces. I'm just glad it was reparable.
From Mark Roberts
Posted on October 14, 2012 at 12:21 AM
Is there a guide as to how and what can be fixed and what needs to be taken in to an expert? I heard that many repairs are of things that violinists tried to fix themselves but only made worse.
From steven su
Posted on October 14, 2012 at 10:23 AM
I actually never broke anything...just made a few scratches on the violin when I pizzed. my brother though broke his bridge while playing. I don't know how it happened. He just picked it up one day and decided to play for a while. The bridge then broke in half. lol that was unexpectedly funny now I think of it
From marjory lange
Posted on October 14, 2012 at 7:59 PM
When I was a beginner, I slid down a flight of stairs (unintentionally) on my butt, and crashed my bow, tip first, into the wall. It didn't break--it bent! My teacher said it was so green (and cheap) it wouldn't even break like a proper bow, and she straightened it over the fire on her gas stove. I went on playing that bow for 6 more years, before I could afford a 'real' bow.
From Bronwyn Edwards
Posted on October 14, 2012 at 7:55 PM
I was absolutely horrified to discover the tiny tip of my H.R.Pfretzschner bow had snapped off. I will never know how it happened but it is an old and valuable bow both sentimental and money wise. I sent it to an old trusted luthier up in Brisbane twice and he replaced the tip of bone and ebony and rehaired it, in the process it he hacked the tip sideways and left gaps in the ebony liner, I was mortified. In the end I sent it to a bow maker in Melbourne who restored the tip beautifully and informed me of its value, he was wonderful. It has taken a couple of years for me to get it out and use it again, scared I would damage it again. I am now happily playing with it every day.
From Julie Stroud
Posted on October 18, 2012 at 10:25 PM
The violin I used as an undergraduate broke in a freak practice room accident two weeks before my junior recital. The neck broke across the grain. It was not pretty. The luthier was a bit taken aback -- he'd never seen one break outside of the glue joints. The neck graft would have cost more than I paid for the violin.

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