Worst Self Repair jobs

May 14, 2008 at 04:44 AM · I had a student walk in who's dad had fixed her bridge that had snapped by adding part of a popsicle stick, and what seems like shellacking it back together (and in the process, put the bridge on backwards).

What's the worst that you've seen? Or, what's the best quality self-repair job that you've seen?

Replies (24)

May 14, 2008 at 05:43 AM · A friend of mine began lessons on a violin he found in the attic, so to speak. It had been in the family for years. When I first saw it, I immediately noticed it had a dowel rod sticking out of the hole where the end button would go. I guess somewhere along the line the end button got lost, and someone decided to attach a dowel rod inside the instrument that ran from the the neck all the way out the other end, and this is what held the tail piece in place. It worked okay, but the rough end of it caused some discomfort against the student's neck.

May 14, 2008 at 06:03 AM · A friend of mine (amateur trumpet player) found an old violin in the attic.

He fixed the back with super glue and sealed the whole instrument with super hard acrylic lacquer.

He didn`t bother to ask me first.

Later he proudly showed it to a violinist who told him he just killed an instrument worth 10.000.-

Now he is waiting to retire and spend his spare time trying to undo his work of skill.

May 14, 2008 at 01:26 PM · Just the usual: glued the bridge "back on" with Elmer's, superglued a fingerboard on, but out of alignment. Sue

May 14, 2008 at 01:50 PM · At a "fiddle" festival in Canada an older French Canadian player kept having problems with his soundpost falling and finally had nailed it into place with a small finishing nail through the belly - problem solved. The violin still produced decent sound.

May 14, 2008 at 02:03 PM · I've known of a bass nailed back together by an professed instrument repair person.

May 14, 2008 at 05:51 PM · Oh Don, that's a terrible story, made me shudder. I would have had that child locked up...

As already mentioned above the worst "repair" I ever saw was when one of my friends at youth orchestra had her father glue on the bridge with superglue - that seems to be a popular one. Another father went and bought some narrow guage wire at a store and thought that it would be just as good as a regular E string...

May 14, 2008 at 06:25 PM · Just the typical, someone in my group class a while back glued their bridge back on after it fell while they were tuning the instrument. I also saw a violin at a tag sale that had a fingerboard nailed on and dried wood glue seeping out the sides.

You see these on E-Bay all the time, junkers someone found in their attic that obviously had a bridge glued on and subsequently ripped off again at some point in its life.

May 14, 2008 at 06:37 PM · On the weekend, I saw a fiddler playing with a snapped bow that had been pieced back together with duct tape.

Seemed to work...

May 14, 2008 at 09:34 PM · I once bought an authentic Hopf on eBay. Unfortunately, half of the back was "fixed" with little plastic, fake wood peices. The fingerboard was also "repositioned" and was about 15 degrees past being "correct." It was a beautiful instrument in its day, but now it's just a piece! :(

May 14, 2008 at 11:48 PM · Nail through the heel of the neck to hold it to the end block (actually, I think the old guys did this the other direction, from inside).

Airplane or super glue to repair cracks.

"Plastic Wood" to smooth-out damage.

Several nice coats of furniture varnish.

All of these repairs on one instrument.

May 15, 2008 at 01:41 AM · A custodian once lemon pledged my school basses because they had a upcoming job evaluation. I often have students come in with a bridge on backwards; they are amazed when I ask them if the bridge has come off. I mention the glue thing early, because I know someone will try it if I don't say something.

May 15, 2008 at 12:44 PM · In high school I worked at a music store that sold mostly band instruments. I'd seen the owner place trumpets in big tubs of water to give them baths.

One day the owner left me alone at the store. I saw a dirty flute and thought to impress my boss by giving it a bath like a trumpet. That's the day I found out that flutes have pads and they can't get wet.

May 15, 2008 at 01:57 PM · Oh, these are all making me CRINGE!!!

May 15, 2008 at 03:51 PM · One of the worst things I have seen was when I had my first shop, around 1981. A parent brought in his kid's tiny violin. In the process of supergluing the hair into the frog by dripping glue in at the ferrule, he'd dropped one drop on the middle of the back of the violin. That would have been easy to fix, but he'd decided to do it himself, with acetone, leaving a three-inch circle of bare wood in the center of the back of a new violin.

May 15, 2008 at 09:57 PM · A woman that played in the same orchestra as me when I was growing up had decorated her viola - With luminous nail varnish, sequins and she'd also put these weird scrapes on it too. She'd done it with a fire poker (red hot).

She was crackers.

May 17, 2008 at 12:20 AM · Once, in my high school days, after a clumsy leap from a stage, my bridge snapped in two. Being far from home, I had no supplies, so I just stacked the two pieces and strung up again. The thing held for a week! I think that qualifies as a minimalist repair.

May 17, 2008 at 12:42 AM · A friend of a friend of mine became accustomed to practicing in the car on the way to his youth symphony practice. One night, he forgot that he was being driven in his family's SUV instead of Sedan and went to put his violin "in the back dash," which was nonexistent - the violin went out the back window and onto the freeway.

Sorry it wasn't a repair story - just had to share.

May 17, 2008 at 02:03 AM · My great grandfather had a Charles J.B. Collin-Mezin cello that had a crack in it's side because it had bounced out of his Model-T Ford and landed on a log.

He had spent every penny he had on the cello and couldn't afford to get it repaired so he stuffed the crack with pine sap that was oozing out of a tree in his yard.

May 17, 2008 at 02:12 AM · ^

did it work ?

did it sound good afterward ?

May 17, 2008 at 02:19 AM · Yeah, it worked fine-- 80 years later when I had the instrument fixed by a good luthier he said it was the ugliest repair he'd ever seen but it had held perfectly and prevented further damage

May 17, 2008 at 02:20 AM · Wonderful.

Great story !!

May 17, 2008 at 03:43 AM · >When we finally got it out, the lifesaver had actually collected a fair amount of dust, so I guess something good came out of it.

Great tip. I'm trying it! : )

May 17, 2008 at 03:51 AM · I haven't got the faintest idea what the heck a cherry flavoured life saver is, but I came across a method for cleaning your violin from the inside by putting (uncooked) rice grains inside, shaking and swiveling it smoothly and removing the rice grains again. Haven't tried it myself yet, but apparently the rice grains collect all the dust.

May 17, 2008 at 04:04 AM · Actually Ben,

Not so fast. I´ve heard people call dust balls ¨tone-balls¨ because, at least apocryphally, they contribute to tone...again according to popular legend (<:

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