effect of belly crack repairs on violin sound

December 18, 2018, 6:59 AM · I searched for this on the site but could find nothing. I know many of the luthiers here repair cracks on the violin table. What I wonder is what do their clients say about the effect on the sound of the violin after. Also, as the repairs become more extensive (my example: four cracks from the F hole to the button end and repair of a hole all on the treble side) and if there are effects does this depend on the extent of the repair?

If anyone would like to comment on the effect of this all on the value of a contemporary (~25 yr) old italian violin I'd also appreciate it.


Replies (10)

December 18, 2018, 7:26 AM · If the crack repairs are done well, they should be impossible to detect by the untrained eye and have little to no noticeable effect on sound. I've seen a number of old instruments with dozens of cleats, crack repairs, patches, doubling, etc. If the restoration is executed correctly it is fine. However on a contemporary instrument, we don't like to see a bunch of repairs. On an old instrument, if the cracks are not critical, i.e. cracks on the back, sound post crack, etc, there is little to no effect on value. On a contemporary instrument, it can definitely have some effect on value, if anything it'll make it harder to sell.
Edited: December 18, 2018, 7:39 AM · Anthony, you're referring here to small cracks in the wood, yes? i.e. cracks that come from age and weather? As opposed to major cracks that come from an accident?

Stringed instruments often change hands between big restorations, because sound and response is altered by major repairs.

Musical instrument insurance covers devaluation, by the way, so your insurance company should pay for an appraisal that would answer your question about value.

December 18, 2018, 8:10 AM · I agree with Anthony that "cracks"... ones that run along the wood grain... are common, not difficult to repair, and should not sound different from the pre-damaged instrument, assuming competent repair. The "hole" would be much more tricky to repair, require new wood to be spliced in, and any change in sound would likely depend on the size and location of the hole, as well as the skill of the restorer.
Edited: December 18, 2018, 10:21 AM · Properly done, there should be no effect on the sound of the instrument.
As to value, without having more information and seeing the instrument, I can not comment.
Edited: December 18, 2018, 11:22 AM · Re: "effect of this all on the value of a contemporary (~25 yr) old italian violin"

What is the effect on value of not doing the repairs (by the sound of it pretty significant), and is the cost of repair exceeds the value of the instrument afterward is really what you need to ascertain. Let start with what was the value of the instrument when purchased 25 years ago, and what it would be today if any different at all. A repaired instrument is obviously worth less than one that was never damaged to begin with. So Value = original value - x%, which must be greater than residual value + repair costs.

December 18, 2018, 11:20 AM · I foolishly left a violin worth about $1500 hanging on a stand in an orchestra class in school during a brief break in playing. The resulting fall when another student brushed against it created a split in the belly about 4" long. Amusingly, the instrument sounded better after a nicely done repair, and I doubt that the split affected its value at all. The accident did make me very conscientious about putting an instrument into its case and closing it any time I was not holding it.
December 18, 2018, 11:25 AM · I frown everytime I see someone doing this at orchestra rehearsal, which commonly happens.
Edited: December 18, 2018, 11:54 AM · @Marion, the improvement in tone after the repair was most probably due to a good re-setup by the repairer, which would have been necessary after that surgery.

@Roger, sad to say, in one of my orchestras this sort of thing is normal during the coffee break, and it is a wonder that no instruments have been damaged during the years I've been a member. I did a spot check once, and out of a total of 15 violins and 5 violas only two players had put their instruments back in their cases - myself and the CM. The CM made an announcement but it had no lasting effect.

December 18, 2018, 12:25 PM · A student in rehearsal only today put a chair leg through a violin another had carelessly left on the floor. I wonder how that will sound after repair :) (if I've got the energy).
December 18, 2018, 3:33 PM · Elise, the violin will probably sound different. Maybe worse, maybe better. Or the difference might be so slight that you don't notice it.

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