Violin/Fingerboard repair


uncle duke wrote at 2014-04-19 13:26:16
Robert- about the bass bar, the top has to come off. The bar more than likely is detached from the lower bout area. How the pros use a blade to pop those tops scares an untrained person like myself. Some use some type of liquid to neutralize/freeze? the effects of the hide glue before attempting to remove top. That could ruin some of the finish if you're not careful. Me, I made a small knife from a one side beveled carpet cutter blade so I could run the flat side of the blade along the rib top at a snails pace. There should be access around the corner block area to start. I used heat to heat the blade tip before starting. Be careful when you try to separate the top from the neck section. If you get this far without cracking the top you'll see if you want the same bass bar or not. How you go about gluing back the old one or a new one will take some thought on how not to make things worse. Your repair man mentioned changing the angle of the neck. Maybe the overstand is too high or he thinks more angle towards the nut would induce better sound. Sounds interesting. If you are capable of the fine tuning/set-up of a size 3 or 4 bench plane, you may be able to plane down some ebony but as Mr. Lashof mentioned you'll need a block plane for precision. Some of the good ones cost hundreds of dollars. The "off the shelf" Stanley's will need prep before using i.e. flattening the sole, the blade will need attention just for starters. I have planed a few pieces of bloodwood and several rosewoods before with my planes and I can tell you it wasn't easy and ebony is a harder wood than those. Chances are with a new fingerboard and/or new neck angle you'll need to cut a new bridge.  My advice now, to save money, and assuming you don't have the ability or tools for this, is to spend a couple of YEARS familiarizing yourself with the use and sharpening techniques for certain tools needed. This will include chisels and scrapers. Then study the repair of violins for awhile. Things to think about would be how am I going to clamp the top back on to the body? or where is the exact placement of the soundpost going to be after I'm through with all of this? Or, how is your favorite piece of music going to sound with this violin after it's fixed?  


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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.

Past/Present Clients
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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