Violin/Cello neck


I have acquired a 20 yr old full size Glaesel Cello. The neck is has had a previous repair and set crooked. If you are looking at the cello top the end of the finger board is 1/4" off center of the body. I would like to remove the neck and reset it it. I have done some work on my own instruments and I am fairly handy. I need to know how to get the neck off so I can reset it straight. I cannot center the bridge now. If I do the strings are not on it properly.


This can be a very delicate operation and it is easy to damage a rib or crack the button if extreme care is not taken. A very thin but strong opening knife is used. It really isn't a knife as it is not sharp like a knife. I use a piece of blue spring steel but some people use a thin artists spatula. The edge needs to be sharpened but again not knife sharp, you don't want to cut anything, just break the glue bond. As Glaesel's are lacquered, alcohol can be used as a glue solvent and it should be used sparingly and allowed to seep into the glue joints, not allowed to run down the ribs or other varnished surface. Care must be taken not to put undue pressure on the button or it could break across the purfling. Splitting of any wood should be avoided and shims may be needed to be used when gluing the neck back in, as it needs to be type.

Another way to possibly solve the problem somewhat, is to cut a "prosthetic" bridge. This means cutting one leg short and leaving the other long, to tilt the bridge to the side that is needed. The bridge feet can then be center on the top, or close to it, while the bridges top is shifted to one side. It obviously is not a perfect solution, but much easier and safer.

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I was able to remove the neck. The button is unharmed. The neck had a previous repair and they ran a dowel rod through the top of the neck through the heel and into to block. The neck appears to be solid and I am ready to glue it back on using animal (hide) glue. I at least now know why the neck was crooked. Any pointers you give to help me get the neck back on straight and secure would be appreciated.
Thanks, Ralph


First you need to figure out why they used a dowel to hold the neck on. Was it because they lacked the talent to fit it to the mortise properly, had the button already cracked at one point, or just why?  The neck needs to fit securely to all sides of the mortise as well as the button, and it needs to be very snug, shimming with wood strips or thick shavings might be needed. You may also need to re-cut the mortise with a chisel to get the neck properly aligned. As far as getting it glued in straight. First measure to see if the "f" holes are in the center of the instrument by measuring the full width of the body at 2 places and then finding the actual center of the instrument, then see if the "f's" are centered on that point. Assuming everything is good, place a cello bridge blank on the instrument and with the neck in place but without glue, test clamp to see if it is in the correct spot. You also need to make sure the height is correct. A 4/4 cello fingerboard, when extended to the bridge, should be 80 mm above the top.


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David Lashof


I can answer questions on violin, viola, cello and bass making, repair and maintenance as well as supply general violin value ranges and information on instrument makers’ assuming the instrument's as labeled. I don't give values for modern makers as many of these modern makers are yet unknown to me. I can only give you feedback based on what information you give me, and no authority on the instrument can know every maker's work that ever lived. I have access to many books on makers and auction prices on over 25,000 makers, as well as having 36 years of experience with selling and appraising violins. Without having the instrument in hand, any estimate over the internet is just a guess as the label inside an instrument is more often wrong than right, so just having that information is not very useful. Pictures can sometimes be helpful but only so much, as the "feel" of the instrument along with small clues in workmanship and varnish cannot be seen in pictures. Any pictures should be high quality close-ups of the top and back. Additional photos of the front and treble side of the neck are also useful. It is always best to have an instrument seen in person at a violin shop that does appraisals. I can also provide advice on bows, rosin, strings and other string instrument accessories. As I am now retired, I have no bias towards selling anything; I only wish to share my knowledge and experience by providing information for those that may be getting confused by misinformation, misdirection or conflicting statements. (While I have seen many thousands of instruments and have performed numerous appraisals; if I have not evaluated an instrument in person, any information I set forth in an opinion is just that, an opinion based solely on what you have provided. Thusly, no financial decision should be based on that opinion, but rather, further investigation should be performed by having the instrument examined in person.)


I am a retired violin maker and repairman with 35 years experience having worked in Chicago and Maryland at 5 different violin shops and music stores including the first violin repairman at William Harris Lee in Chicago, the head repairman at Weavers Violins in Maryland, and in my own shop of 25 years. I have made 160 instruments and have restored countless professional level and student grade instruments. I am an accomplished violinist having performed with semi-professional as well as amateur groups although I haven't played for years and mostly stay away from questions about playing. I have taught violin making and restoration to about 20 students; three of which have gone on professionally and now have their own shops. I know violins from playing, selling, repairing, making and teaching.

Violin Society of America (VSA). American String Teachers Association (ASTA)

I graduated from the prestigious 4 year Chicago School of Violin Making in 1981 under Master Violin Maker Tschu Ho Lee. I also studied with violin maker Willis M. Gault in Washington DC from 1973-75, who was the former owner of the oldest known example of an instrument from the modern violin family, an Andreas Amati Viola.

Awards and Honors
2008 Chester Petranek Award for service to the music community. ASTA award for service. Top All Expert in Violin for 2014 and 2015.

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I have worked with many professional musicians from DC area Symphonies as well as players from all over the US. Here are just a few, Leonard Slatkin - Former conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra. Doris Gazda - Nationally renowned string specialist and composer. Bernard Greenhouse, Tanya Anisimova - Internationally renowned Solo Cellists. Jody Gatwood, Mark Pfannschmidt, Lori Barnet, Doug Dubé, Judy Silverman - National Philharmonic Orchestra. Robert Blatt, David Hardy, Glen Garlick - National Symphony Orchestra. Eddie Stubbs, Brendan Mulvahill, Nate Leath - Professional Fiddle Players. David Basche, Pat Braunlich, John Knudson, Romano Solano, Ed Ferris, Fred Lieder - freelance musicians.

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