None of you non DIY-ers will know the feeling...
That feeling when you accidentally knock your soundpost out while adjusting your bridge...
But also that feeling of putting it all back together and hearing that your violin plays like a Ferrari—when you're not exactly sure what you did but the result is amazing. So much more satisfying than handing it off to someone else to set up for you. At least for me, personally.
I do wonder why putting a sound post up should be considered such a big deal - by those with a commercial interest? The first couple of times you'll drop it inside and maybe scrape the edge of the f-hole but the knack soon comes. Call it DIM keyhole surgery
I'm all about daring to do these kind of things, but I have yet not been brave enough to work on violins. First, I don't have the tool, and second, my violin hasn't have any problems relates to the bridge or sound post. Also, I find these works delicate.
Well if you nail the spot, make sure you measure where everything is so you can do it again in the future.
Roger said "Well if you nail the spot, make sure you measure where everything is so you can do it again in the future."
There are excellent, highly responsible and ethical luthiers out there. Sorry for those bad experiences that left you cynical about most (if not all) violin repairmen/women.
I also don't know the "feeling" of wrecking my violin trying to do something that should be left to a pro. Fortunately, I do not ever dump my sound post while adjusting my bridge either. I do get my violin readjusted seasonally whenever I can get down to Patrick's studio. Unfortunately it's a 45-minute drive, so I usually wait until I have other business near there. If I know he is coming to Blacksburg I can ask him to bring a few tools and he is happy to oblige.
After we moved away from New York City to the Maryland "sticks," it became a nearly 4 hour round trip to visit a luthier deep within DC or Baltimore, although my father finally did settle on one in Baltimore where one of my current violins was purchased in 1951. So my father and his Stephano Scarampella violin had to struggle with only rare professional doctoring.
At least the non DIY player does no have the luxury of misadjusting the soundpost and causing a soundpost crack!!
The only "jobs" I do on my violins are to change the strings (one at a time, including checking and correcting if necessary the bridge alignment), very occasionally changing the tailpiece (taking special precautions to ensure that the sound post can't move during the procedure), and cleaning with a cloth.
I have found that things "stand up" OK if I change strings 2 at a time (G-D and then E-A). I find it tougher than it's worth to thread the G under the D and E under the A.
I bought a sound post tool kit and haven't looked back. You need to make sure the curvature of the violin fits the angle of the post. I tried different places until I found the sweet spot. There is definitely a good, better and a best.
Forza Timothy! We don't all need our hands held all of the time.
Don't understand why it's so wrong to have my hand "held" by an experienced expert that knows what he/she is doing. One can be self-reliant (I actually am in myriads of ways, as I naturally like to solve problems on my own as an introvert) without denying the experts their due.
Frankly speaking DIY violin repair is a disaster waiting to happen.
I can remember quite well how ignorant I was in my first year of apprenticeship, and I had a teacher, this is not stuff you can teach yourself to do properly, a competent luthier can ALWAYS do a better job.
All things within reason of course, but I'd like to amplify Cotton's point that, notwithstanding the convenience factor, DIY violin maintenance can above all be satisfying. Why not go ahead and acquire another skill by trial and error if the only victim is likely to be yourself? Having said that I wouldn't dream of performing even minor surgery on my best instruments
Steve Jones wrote "Why not go ahead and acquire another skill by trial and error if the only victim is likely to be yourself?"
Even though I do not do my own soundpost adjustments, I would agree with Andrew and others that it doesn't seem like the most difficult of luthier tasks and can probably be done safely if one is careful. But even then, were I to try it, I would try it first several times on a cheap VSO. I don't change the oil in my own car either. I do prepare >95% of my own family meals. Everyone has their own DYI limits.
I have a very good instrument and would never never tamper with it; the luthier who made it lives no more than one kilometre away. I also have a cheap old German "stradivarius", but it has sentimental value, having been in the family for over a hundred years, so it is also out of bounds. When I was young, however, I tinkered extensively with bridges, tail-pieces, pegs, chin rests and anything that moved, and if I'd thought of it, I'd certainly have adjusted the sound-post. I might even have tried a varnish job, if my parents had let me. Now way, today.
I've been pondering Luis's assertion that "good violins are a cultural asset that must be preserved to the future generations". That's certainly true of exceptional instruments but a line must be drawn somewhere - where? At every downmarket auction I attend dozens of commonplace, broken down instruments get bought and presumably preserved in spite of the vanishingly remote possibility that they'll ever be restored and played in earnest.
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