Ethics - Repairing cracks so they can be seen

July 16, 2009 at 08:48 PM ·

Will a truly ethical Luthier always repairs cracks so they can be seen rather than trying to make it look like there was no crack at all?

Just wondering becuase I saw an ebay aution that claimed this was so.

Replies (21)

July 16, 2009 at 09:21 PM ·

That's just stupid.

July 16, 2009 at 10:21 PM ·

No. It sounds like the Ebay seller is making excuses for bad repair work.

Pretty creative. They've come up with a way to make an instrument with ugly repair more desireable.... ;-)

I'm not sure this puts them in a strong position to be championing ethics though.

Some of the Ebay violin descriptions are the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. I thought about buying one of my own I saw listed there once, but I didn't recognize the work. LOL

July 16, 2009 at 11:43 PM ·

That experience must be incredibly annoying David, did you take any further action?  

July 17, 2009 at 12:46 AM ·

Greetings,

I think he just cracked up.

Cheers,

buri

July 17, 2009 at 01:03 AM ·

I believe an ethical restorer will repair cracks to the best of her/his ability.   With the use of a long wave uv lamp, most cracks will appear. 

I have branded new bow parts I have made to be sure that a sharp rehairer will know the origin.

Jerry Pasewicz

July 17, 2009 at 01:53 AM ·

 

Roslind Porter wrote:

"That experience must be incredibly annoying David, did you take any further action? "

____________________________________

I complained to Ebay, and the sale disappeared. I don't know whether the two were related because I never received feedback from Ebay.

The problem isn't unique to my instruments though. A number of modern makers have encountered fakes on the market. As far as I know, every maker is willing to verify the authenticity of instruments which are sent to them. This is one small advantage over instruments by dead makers. ;-)

 

 

July 17, 2009 at 02:11 AM ·

Pasewicz sounds like he's taking a step into the future. Most of us have no intention of defrauding anyone with our repair work. At the same time, we don't want to leave our signature in the form of sloppy work.

Jerry, how about putting up a couple of your "before" and "after" pictures so people can understand how much can be done with repair?

I'll post a couple of work done by Jeffrey Holmes.

Before:

After:

July 17, 2009 at 02:03 AM ·

Anyone that respects quality woodwork (not just luthiers) would do everything they can to make a repair invisible. I have never made a violin, however I have done a considerable amount of work with wood; I took pride in taking the time and effort to leave the finished work looking beautiful and natural.

The only exception I know is some furniture appears to be manufactured in a way that it is artificially distressed to make it look 'less new'; I really don't like that; I prefer all my furniture to have earned every bump.

July 17, 2009 at 04:10 AM ·

Before 

July 17, 2009 at 04:14 AM ·

after 

July 17, 2009 at 04:15 AM ·

Before and after of an Xaveri Wagner violin 1806 completed by Rodger Stearns. 

July 17, 2009 at 07:41 AM ·

Wow, impressive before and after photos, wonderful work!

Sort of going back to the original post but on another tangent:   Do the luthiers on here have a different approach to repairing a bad visible crack in say, an Amati, than for example the same problem on a top quality 20th century instrument?  In other words, if the instrument is of major historical importance, would that affect your approach to the repair? 

July 17, 2009 at 07:44 AM ·

Hi all, first post here, great forum!

My opinion would be that an honest Luthier should repair the crack to the best of his or her ability to make it as invisible an non invasive to the sound or eye as possible but make a note to anyone else inspecting the instrument that it had been repaired.

A lot of english and some  violins seem to carry an extra label on the inside for this?

D

July 17, 2009 at 07:12 PM ·

David Burgess wrote:

Jerry, how about putting up a couple of your "before" and "after" pictures so people can understand how much can be done with repair?

Before:

After:

Before:

After:

Jerry Pasewicz

July 17, 2009 at 02:41 PM ·

This IS phenominal! 

July 17, 2009 at 03:01 PM ·

why would you take a violin in for repair and still want to see the crack. If you took your car in for body repair,would you still want to be able to tell where the dent was ?

 

someones passing off a line of BS on that one...Id say steer clear

July 17, 2009 at 03:13 PM ·

Great pix, guys. I should point out a couple of things to those outside the luthier's professional world. First, there is a definite, but indefinite (;-)) line between repairs and restorations, the latter being a craft that requires extreme skill and patience that in many ways sets it apart from making and maintaining violins. Some of the guys I know that do this kind of work are better Wizards than Harry Potter. The pros know how to find and reveal many fine repairs, but I have seen work that would make you gasp. So would the price tag for doing it.

A lot of us get to the point where we have to choose between (as in my case) continuing to play professionally, becoming violin makers, becoming restorers, or running a shop. All of these are very time consuming and there are not enough hours in the day to do them all well. In my case, making violins became my first choice and playing a distant second. I still do some repairs, but not restorations. If I were restoring, I would try to make those cracks vanish.

I think that the idea of not hiding a crack repair actually comes to us from the bow making world. They have their share of guys with incredible hands who can make a bow tip crack disappear, and there's the rub. A cracked head is a potential point of failure for the bow. When I had a shop, we always informed our customers of repairs that would compromise the bow's structural integrity. An invisibly repaired crack on a violin does not normally bring structural concerns, with the possible exceptions of cracks at the sounpost on either the top or back. That's an important difference.

July 17, 2009 at 04:20 PM ·

Some time back (and on another forum,) Jeffrey Holmes had posted another such before after shot of a violin C bout that had been "punctured" by a cell phone antenna.  Astonishing results.

July 17, 2009 at 06:20 PM ·

Thanks so much for posting these photos. As a lay person, I'm interested in the craft but I can't follow the arcane (to me at least) discussions on luthier boards.

July 17, 2009 at 08:56 PM ·

Roslind Porter wrote:  "Sort of going back to the original post but on another tangent:   Do the luthiers on here have a different approach to repairing a bad visible crack in say, an Amati, than for example the same problem on a top quality 20th century instrument?  In other words, if the instrument is of major historical importance, would that affect your approach to the repair?"  

Hi Rosalind;

The answer to that question, personally, is "I do my best to prevent that"... so "no"...  though the techniques required to remove ancient residue from an old crack and some of the materials employed might vary as compared to what might be required to restore a similar problem on a contemporary violin... and working on a historically important instrument does have an  affect the general mood.  :-) 

Unfortunately, as Mr. Spear mentioned, performing this sort of work is quite time consuming, and therefore expensive.  It's kind of a self-limit (the cost of doing this sort of work vs. the value of the instrument and the purse of the owner).  The economics involved limit what ends up on the bench... Because of this, some instruments simply don't get the attention required to perform this kind of work.

 

 

 

July 18, 2009 at 11:30 AM ·

Obviously, it doesn't make much sense to do $5000 worth of work on a $1000 violin. And some of the better repair people are selective about what they want to work on. It's no different from a musician who is selective about gigs, or who they wish to perform with.

This might be a good time to bring up the importance of having good insurance from a company which specializes in musical instruments. They will generally cover not only the type of repair shown in the Jeffrey Holmes photos, but also reimburse for any loss of value, compared to the value before the instrument was damaged and repaired.

General homeowners policies can have some significant restrictions. They may not cover an instrument which is used professionally. There may be geographic restrictions on coverage. They may assume that the instrument has dropped in value since you purchased it, like a living room couch or an automobile, and only cover a portion of what it's really worth. They may require that you get several bids on repair, and go with the lowest one, not giving you the option of getting top-notch work. They may not reimburse you for a reduction in market value after a major repair. If the repair cost is high enough compared to the value of the instrument, they may "total" the instrument rather than paying for repair, giving you money to replace it with "like kind and quality", not understanding that no two instruments are the same, and replacing it isn't as easy as finding another 2002 Toyota.

Ask about these things, so you know exactly what coverage you have.

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