Great grandfather's violin

March 8, 2017 at 06:42 AM · I've got new pics of great grandfather's violin. I'm 7 hrs north of Toronto but I have found a local gentleman to do repairs but I'm a little leary. Other than the cracks on the front is there anything else I should get him to look at.

Replies (25)

March 8, 2017 at 07:30 AM · your links don't work.

March 8, 2017 at 07:30 AM ·

March 8, 2017 at 11:02 AM · If he is a trained luthier then he will know what to do. He does not need amateurs telling him his business :)

March 8, 2017 at 12:35 PM · But she states that she is leary and is looking for others opinions.

March 8, 2017 at 02:38 PM · "Local gentleman" does not necessarily mean trained luthier. It sounds as if she is not confident in this person, and she is far from a major centre where it would be easy to find qualified luthiers.

March 8, 2017 at 03:33 PM · If you're leery of the local gentleman, would it be possible for you to hold off on having repairs done until you can either take the violin to Toronto yourself or ship it to a well-recommended luthier? I speak from experience; my parents had the "local gentleman" repair my father's childhood violin, and while it is playable, there is certain work that can no longer be cost-effectively done because the repairs were not done in the accepted manner.

March 8, 2017 at 03:46 PM · Hi Laura,

From the one photo I can find in imgur, it looks like the violin is suffering from a "saddle crack" and various scratches.

Saddle cracks are frequently caused by chin rests that are improperly attached to the violin. As a minimum, have the luthier make sure the chin rest is clamped only above the ribs.

Many times saddle cracks do not go all the way through the top and will not get any worse if the cause of the crack is removed. There is also a simple procedure to close a partial crack that does not require removal of the top.

If the crack goes all the way through the thickness of the top, then you are probably looking at a very expensive repair that would require removal of the top.

I would not worry about the scratches. There are a variety of varnish condition issues with the violin that should not affect the play, but that would take a skilled and experienced luthier to "correct" to make the violin look pretty (as well as a lot of money).

I am no expert on identifying violins, but my initial impression is that your grandfather's violin was lovingly played for many years, but has more sentimental value than market value.

If you want to play it, get it cleaned up and have the pegs, bridge, sound post and chin rest checked for proper setup. If the strings are very old, then a new set might be a good idea.

March 8, 2017 at 06:17 PM · Almost always saddle cracks are caused by a too tight saddle, as the violin top shrinks over time, the swaddle with it grain going the other way doesn't shrink and pushes the wood apart, never repair a saddle crack without also shortening the saddle so it is a loose, not snug fit on its sides, this will prevent further cracks.

I've never heard of a saddle crack that doesn't go all the way through the wood, If its a cheap violin, and the crack is not buzzing, you might have the luthier work glue into the crack without taking the top off, this is of course after shortening the width of the saddle so it is no longer pushing the wood apart. A saddle crack that goes several inches will need to have the top removed for proper repair, but if its only a half on inch or even an inch long, you might be able to have it repaired externally.

March 8, 2017 at 09:52 PM · Hi Laura

Steve McClelland is a dealer with a good repairman in your neck of the woods.His website is

Good luck.

March 9, 2017 at 12:12 AM · As I am not a luthier and do not wish to disagree with Carmen and Lyndon,but after just looking at the top picture it looks like a soundpost crack to me, hopefully someone will tell me that I am wrong.

March 9, 2017 at 12:16 AM ·

Hope this one works. All the pics are of the violin

March 9, 2017 at 03:22 AM · Looks like a German Gaspar copy that has been partially stripped and re-varnished. You can't really say any more than that based on the pictures.

March 9, 2017 at 11:19 AM · I don't see any pictures at all, so I can make no comment on whether there is a soundpost crack or not!!

March 9, 2017 at 02:15 PM · We might be conflating that causes of the violin's condition problems with advice on how to "fix" them.

Regardless of how the table crack and varnish conditions were caused, I think the violin looks "good enough" to have the pegs, bridge, sound post and chin rest looked at and properly adjusted.

The playability and tone of the violin can then be evaluated, and the OP can decide if it is worth the money to address the rest of the issues.

March 9, 2017 at 03:26 PM · Link still doesn't work, try posting on a site you don't have to be a member of, like

March 9, 2017 at 04:05 PM · Lyndon, try this:

March 9, 2017 at 05:06 PM · Link doesn't work, I can only assume you're a member of Imgur, Dexter, I am not and none of these posted links work for me.

March 9, 2017 at 05:18 PM · I am not a member of Imgur either. Now I realize the link doesn't work on my desktop, but it does on my mobile device/ipad

March 9, 2017 at 05:23 PM · Hello guys,

Let me help you all:

to the OP: please take more care before just pasting the link

I must say the purfling looks quite charming.

March 9, 2017 at 05:55 PM · OK this time the links work, it needs major repairs with the top coming off, I can not tell if the saddle crack extends into the soundpost area, if it did the violin might not be worth the cost of the repairs. At my discount shop we're probably looking at about $450 unless it has a soundpost crack and then it would be much more, this would include removing top, glueing and cleating cracks in top, reglue top, new bridge, fit soundpost properly, get pegs working optimally, level fingerboards if needed and new German strings.

March 9, 2017 at 09:05 PM · Let me just add that, before investing in any repairs, get your violin measured. I have seen a few copies of the Brescian school makers with incorrect body_stop:bridge_stop ratio.

The last thing you want to discover after you spent money on repairs is that violin is unplayable.

7 hours North of Toronto could indeed be in the middle of nowhere, but I encourage you to come to our city and ask for an expert opinion. Alternatively, consider visiting Montreal or Ottawa.

Consider yourself lucky: my GG's passed on only a few lousy violin player's genes 8-(

March 9, 2017 at 09:08 PM · Rocky makes a good point, and measurements can make quite a difference to classical music players, fiddle players on the other hand don't always care so much about "standard" measurements, and what may be considered "unplayable" for a classical musician may be just fine for a fiddler.

March 9, 2017 at 11:02 PM · "I must say the purfling looks quite charming."

I agree. The center strip is a bit wider than I am used to seeing but I found it attractive to the eye.

March 12, 2017 at 09:56 PM · This is the second set of posts on the same instrument. In the initial discussion Laura wrote"...putting it in a shadow box and mounting it on a wall was always my plan. Seeing as it was my great grandfather's it means more to me then whether or not it is real or fake!"

I don't know if that comment was being ironic, sarcastic, or honest; but it does raise an important question:

Is Laura a violinist or want to learn how to play the instrument? Or is this simply a question about the potential value of the instrument? The answer to that question does make a difference as to what to do with the actual instrument.

I play what was my wife's great-grandfather's instrument which is a late 1800's German (Mittenwald?) copy of a 17?? Strad. I probably put more money into it than it is worth on the market but it has sentimental value as well as playing just fine for my needs. I learned how to play on this instrument and I love it.

Unfortunately my mother-in-law believed it was a real Strad and was going to sell it for a pile of cash. However, she did appreciate the fact that it was being played again once the disappointment wore off.

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