Not yet a crack but....

January 30, 2011 at 06:19 AM ·

While playing this afternoon I noticed a grain in the top plate, coming down from the left f hole that is puckered.  It's about a 1/2 inch long. It's not yet a crack but you can tell the wood has puckered along that grain.  When do I get concerned enough to take it in and have it looked at?

Replies (21)

January 30, 2011 at 09:43 AM ·

 I'd take it to a luthier BEFORE it is a crack. ;-)

January 30, 2011 at 12:52 PM ·

Violinists are worse than pet owners! I would already be at the Luthier with a concerned look on my face. And he'd be telling me not to worry and he'll take care of it. So, don't worry, just take it to your local violin vet!

January 30, 2011 at 02:16 PM ·

I'll have to ask my vet to compare notes with my luthier.  My vet thinks I'm a hypocondriac with my dogs.  I have time this week.  I'll take it and have her look at it.  She wanted to do a little work on it anyway.    Thanks!

January 31, 2011 at 11:45 AM ·

Let us know how your little puppy is ok? :o)


January 31, 2011 at 01:32 PM ·

LOL!  Lisa, this is my little pony.  It's a pretty bay color.  I show dogs so we already have too many puppies!

January 31, 2011 at 02:26 PM ·

Ooops didn't mean to call your violin a dog! I like ponies :o)

January 31, 2011 at 08:13 PM ·

Sorry, dogs are my life.  Hard to be insulted by someone calling my violin my puppy.  It's really just as important to me :-)

January 31, 2011 at 08:19 PM ·

This reminds me of a bumper sticker I once saw - "Lord, help me to become the person my dog thinks I am." Seriously, I agree; even if there's an outside chance that there's a problem with your fiddle, it is too precious (personally if not monetarily) not to have an expert check it out.

January 31, 2011 at 10:21 PM ·

I'm taking it in tomorrow.  Stephanie at Acoustic Corner agreed.  She is the one who refinished and set up my violin after saving it from it's previous owner.  She would rather look at it now rather than later. 

February 1, 2011 at 09:10 PM ·

It was a crack.  Stephanie was very glad that I brought it in when I did.  She took it in the back to work her majic and told me to come back in an hour.  The repair was free but my husband says it cost me about $50 because in that hour I browsed a used book store, had lunch, bought new rosin and a guitar strap.  :-) 

John - Stephanie saw what I am doing to humidfy my violin and approved.  I have a sponge cut to fit a small tupperware container with holes in the lid.  I dampen the sponge every 1-2 days and wring it out so it is not dripping.  I originally had two sponges and my violin got damp.  Not good!  I took out one sponge and it stays in tune pretty well so I figured it must have been working.  My violin stays in it's case when not played and it stays in a room that has the most constant temperature - around 70 degrees.  I could go cooler but it didn't seem to like that either.  These little wooden boxes are so tempermental!  You are right - you would think us humans could outsmart a dead tree but alas, I think the tree has other plans!

February 2, 2011 at 02:09 AM ·

 Violins don't like weather.  Any weather. glad you got an easy repair.

February 2, 2011 at 02:22 AM ·

I like your humidifier.

When it gets critical for mine, I take a film cannister (for 35mm film), punch a few holes in the top, and put a damp paper towel in there. Small, doesn't hold much moisture, but if I check every couple days, it is OK.

February 2, 2011 at 01:24 PM ·

Roland - get a cheap sponge and cut it to fit in the film canister.  You are doing the same thing I am doing, just different containers.  It does seem to work well.

February 2, 2011 at 02:12 PM ·

 susan, it is smart to fix that crack early like you did.  

on the other hand, i feel that it is important to establish the ambient humidity in the area where you store and play the violin, not just the violin case area.  i suspect even though your provide moisture from your device, there is no way to tell at times if this "natural" evaporation can keep up with the demand from the violin.  just a thought.   no other sources of humidity in the house in winter?

February 2, 2011 at 02:35 PM ·

"Stephanie saw what I am doing to humidfy my violin and approved."

Did she give you an explanation why it cracked?

February 2, 2011 at 06:26 PM ·

David - she said temperature swings and dry air but didn't go in to detail.  I also had a peg slip this last weekend, first time that's happened.  It sounded like she thought the two were the same cause.

Al - I can't humidify a room.  I suffer from asthma and all previous attempts to humidify are met with asthma attacks.  Those devices are really a bugger to keep mildew free.   I could keep my violin in a cooler room but my violin complained when I did that.  So I keep it in the room with the most constant temperature that's not too warm.  When we first turned the heat on I had a rental violin.  It went badly out of tune for two days until I humidifed the case then all was well.  This violin I have had since mid-November.  It's always been in the case and humidifed since I got it and until this weekend, everything was fine.  This violin was refinished the summer of 2009.  It was mostly on a peg in the shop or played by the lutheir who refinished it.  I don't think it saw a lot of temperature changes or playing time in the last 1-1/2 years.  It may just be "adjusting" to it's new home.

February 2, 2011 at 07:29 PM ·

 i see, sounds like you have a special situation there.  interestingly, dry air triggers asthma for many other people, including my dad.   there are some humidifiers that are hot mist which are supposedly better with germs. (but can be a fire hazard i heard)

perhaps maestro david has a sawzall solution for you, but from reading his stuff  i take it that even though temp and hum are inter-related, one cannot control hum via temp, if there is only so much moisture in the air to start with.  so i don't know how much it helps to keep the violin at a "cooler" spot in the house...


February 2, 2011 at 09:08 PM ·

Susan, at what level do you maintain the humidity inside the case during the winter?

Temperature changes alone don't put much stress on violins, compared to humidity changes. However, temperature and humidity are related. If you monitor humidity, you pretty much have everything covered.

I'm going to guess the crack wasn't humidity related though. Checking the weather history for your location, you've had some lows around 20 degrees F, but combined with the outdoor humidity history and indoor temperature, I'll guess that the humidity in your house wasn't below 25% for a significant period of time. Where the crack occurred is also unusual for something dryness related, particularly on a 20 year old violin. This area is under cross-grain compression, and tension (rather than compression) is normally required for a "spontaneous" crack.

Perhaps this was a previously repaired crack which re-opened? It's in an area where the violin top flexes the most during playing, and while that won't cause a new crack, it could stress a prior repair.

Most people who have asthma or allergy problems do fine with the steam-type vaporizers. It's the media type humidifiers which are notorious for capturing living stuff from the air, then providing a nice incubating spot for it to grow into slime, then re-releasing it into the air.


February 2, 2011 at 09:22 PM ·

hmmmmm... Stephanie didn't mention a previous crack and she is the one who refinished it and set up over a year ago.  I don't think I did anything to cause damage although my mom didn't name me Grace for a reason.  As far as humidity, I don't have a hydrogmeter (sp?) so I admit that I am pretty much winging it.  My violin stays in tune pretty well and I figured that there can't be many changes going on if it's not falling out.  So cracks like this are not common?  I don't like hearing that.......

February 2, 2011 at 09:38 PM ·

That's why I asked if she told you why it cracked. Impact damage will normally leave artifacts which a trained luthier can interpret. We need to do this quite regularly, because it's information that insurance companies often require.

I've got to say though that repairing a crack in one hour is quite unusual. I wouldn't even consider that enough time for the glue to dry thoroughly, let alone add reinforcement, and add a tiny bit of varnish to protect the crack from moisture and contamination.

February 3, 2011 at 12:17 AM ·

She placed a cleat inside.  I'll keep an eye on it. If it looks like there could be problems I go back - or get a second opinon.  The crack wasn't all that bad.  To me it looked like a pucker in the wood and not a crack that went all the way through.

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