What is the modern technique to open the violin with out any damage to the instrument.

Hi Raghu,

Thanks for your question.  I hesitate to answer it, however, because opening a violin is a tricky business and the main requirement for doing it safely and without damaging the instrument is practice .  So, I will tell you, and anyone else who may read this answer, that if the instrument in question is one that you care about, I would strongly recommend that you allow a professional to do the job.

I should also mention here that many repairs can be accomplished without opening the instrument.  The sound-post, for example, is reset by the use of a special tool that is inserted through the f-hole.  Minor cracks and open seams can often be glued and clamped from the outside, as well.

If you wish to try opening an old or discarded instrument for practice, this is, briefly, how it is done. . . .

Start by separating the belly from the left and right sides of the neck, using a sharp, thin knife.  Once you have an opening in the seam, use a dull knife such as a table knife or a putty knife to expand the opening, wedging the belly up from the ribs, breaking through the hide glue.  Do not angle the knife too much, or you will break a rib.  The thickness of the knife alone should be enough to wedge the front off the ribs and linings.  Some people heat the knife to help melt the glue, but I don't generally find this necessary or particularly helpful.

Great care must be used to avoid cracking the front or doing damage to the ribs.  You must also use care not to hurt yourself.  Of course, if you already have on open seam, then start there, rather than at the neck.  Work you way the whole way around.  If the violin was properly made, with the correct type of glue, and the correct amount of glue, then the sound board should pop off without too much trouble.  If the violin was cheaply varnished or too much varnish was applied, this process can get messy and a great deal of cosmetic damage may occur.  Use care.

Best Regards,
Jim Fisher  


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James S. Fisher


Please Note: For an accurate appraisal of your instrument's value or history, I must advise you to take it to a local luthier or string shop for an evaluation. It's really not possible to do this with any accuracy via email.

However, I am happy to answer other questions about violins, bows, violin playing, and violin/bow repair. I can also talk with you about what bows, rosin, strings, cases, shoulder rests, etc. might work best for you and your particular instrument. (There are some great new products on the market.) I've taught violin and fiddle playing for the past 18 years and will answer questions about playing and technique.


I've been studying the violin for over thirty years. I started teaching in 1996. In addition to my training at Lebanon Valley College and at the Violin Institute, I handle violins, bows, and customer questions of all sorts on a daily basis in my shop - J.S. Fisher Violins,


I hold a Bachelor of Music degree from Lebanon Valley College, as well as certificates in violin repair, violin maintenance, and bow rehairing from the Violin Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

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