Warpage between chinrest clamps

June 28, 2020, 10:54 PM · Hi folks! I recently noticed that the wood in the area between the chinrest clamp has started warping.

Not sure if its due to the chinrest being too tight but I’ve loosened it and brought it to the luthier from the shop I’ve bought it from.

The luthier says that its nothing serious at this moment and there’s no need for any repairs for now. He also mentioned that it can be due to a number of reasons other than tight chinrest such as the wood may be dried enough and the wood may have warped after years due to pressure from playing and chinrest.

Just want to seek your opinion on whether I should insist on a repair before it becomes worse or should I just leave it as is and monitor for any further degradation given that any such repair would likely be a major undertaking?

This is a 2013 Klaus Clement violin that I’ve owned for about 3 years now.

Here’s a link to the photo: https://vs.co/tjBG3izCH7

Replies (7)

June 28, 2020, 11:19 PM · Maybe its the photo but I can't tell there's a problem.
June 29, 2020, 12:34 AM · I can see that the side of the instrument appears to be collapsing inwards where the chin rest is. I can see why this is concerning for you, and if the same were to happen to my violin, I'd also be very worried about it.

I'm not a luthier, but I am cursed with an inquisitive brain which is coupled to an engineer's education, all of which makes me question what you are being told. It looks to me like the side of the instrument has, to use an engineering expression, failed i.e. it is now broken. Releasing the tension in the chin rest is not going to make the wood in the side return to a normal position.

What this means for the tonal qualities of your instrument, I don't know - I suspect not much. But you are faced with contradicting needs. First, you will need to tighten the chin rest to prevent it from falling off. But, should you overtighten it, which will be very easy to do as there is limited structural integrity in the side of your violin, then you will exacerbate the situation. So you're going to have to experiment with seeing how little tension you can live with when tightening the rest.

I have to say, I have never positioned a chin rest in the place you have yours - I'm not saying you are unusual (because you are not), just that I make sure my chin rests are positioned over the tail. I know this doesn't suit all players, but I do this because I know that there is a solid block of wood positioned inside the instrument at the tail which is very strong in compression, thus making it almost impossible to end up where you are now.

June 29, 2020, 1:14 AM · Paul, it can be quite difficult to notice but you will see a slight indentation if you look hard enough at the area between the metal chinrest clamps.

Yes, Tony you’re right - i’m am Engineer by training too and I am indeed worried about the structural integrity and longer term mechanical stability.

For now, there seems to be no cracks (at least based on visual inspection, also confirmed by the luthier). I don’t think it is a catastrophic failure at this stage but I do hope that it is ‘stable’.

Sound wise, I have not noticed any difference and it still has the pleasing depths in the lower strings and sweet highs which is why I’ve bought it in the first place. Perhaps I should explore switching to a different tailpiece that’s clamped over the tail.

Thanks for your reply!

June 29, 2020, 3:24 AM · Nasty! For free advice from a whole bunch of luthiers I should go to maestronet.com, although there are some restrictions on new members posting pictures
June 29, 2020, 6:27 AM · I think the best solution would be to switch to a Guaneri type chinrest
June 29, 2020, 7:06 AM · Nat, I've looked at the photo of your rest. It is what is known as a side-mounted rest, perhaps not as common as they used to be, often now being replaced by the center-mounted variety. As Tony has observed, there is indeed distortion of the rib in the chin-rest area between the upper and lower plates, and this will need to be addressed sometime. I think it is a good idea in your present situation to replace your side-mounted rest with a center-mounted one to avoid further pressure on the damaged rib, until such time when it can be repaired. If nothing else, a center-mounted rest permits more useful variation in where the chin/jaw contacts the rest.

The only way I can see how this could have happened is that at some stage in the violin's life a chin-rest was seriously over-tightened. In my early days as a violinist I was warned of the danger of this over-tightening by the luthier who was setting up my first violin. Ever since my policy has been, no matter what type of chin-rest I use, to make sure the clamps are no more than finger-tight so that the rest can be slid off or installed using the fingers only. It is of course not so loose that it would drop off (which I have never had happen), but it is on just firmly enough to do the job.

Another con against a too-tight rest - including the shoulder rest - is that it will surely interfere with the vibrations of the violin and hence its sound. You can always check for the sound of a violin as luthiers have intended since time immemorial (which, quite irrelevantly here, is defined in English law as July 6 1189, the date of accession of King Richard I), and you may be agreeably surprised at what you hear.

I also suggest that it useful to learn to play comfortably when necessary without any rests on the violin - face-to-face tuition is best for this, and it won't take long. This is a skill I think every violinist should have in their toolbox for use in an emergency situation when a rest goes south (e.g. thread stripped on a CR clamp, which happened to me once).

June 29, 2020, 7:19 AM · @Trevor - that's very prudent of you but playing without a CR involves a pretty major switch in technique. If I should have a CR malfunction shortly before I'm due to step onto the platform of the Wigmore Hall, I think I'll just take an indisposie.

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