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On the chance that anyone might find this interesting; I've mentioned that I took Kevin's advice and started purchasing a few violins/violas on ebay; one is my dream violin, one smelled like a drunk vomited in it, etc.. I think I also mentioned that I was going to bring my favs up to a great appraiser in LA to see exactly what I had, and here's the outcome........
- The Albani - turns out not to be the 1760's $100k Italian I was hoping it was, but an incredible sounding 1890 - 1905 handmade German, strangely made of some spectacular wood, worth about $12k
- The Jarek Wojcek - turns out it is an authentic, wonderful sounding 1910 handmade Polish worth about $9k
- the American (made in Oregon) - worthless
- no label German - turns out to be a decent sounding late 1800's handmade German worth about $1800 - $2000
- and the Italian Viola (earlier known as "The Beast") - turns out to be a very nice sounding 1920's handmade Italian worth about $1800 - $2000
- the Snow Viola - sounds great, exactly what it says it is, worth about $1600
- the Preschner bow - turns out to be a very nice authentic but instead of the $1600 I thought it was worth it is really worth about $600 because the fittings are nickel not silver
That would be very rewarding Kevin. I'm not at your level of skill/confidence yet, but I'm working toward it. I still haven't "popped the top" yet, or repaired a plate crack, or repaired a finish, but I've successfully done just about everything else.
One of the violins I recently bought, for $80, is sort of the kind you're talking about though, and I'm just about to take the plunge, lol. It is John Juzek (from Prague) that, in fine condition, is worth about $1800; but the pegs are jacked up, the tail pin needs to be repaired, and some jackass carved words in the back so deep that I'm going to have to sand it out and build the thickness back up somehow; it will most likely ruin the sound but it's my "experiment".
You've been a wealth of great advice in regard to repair, so I'm following your comments very closely. Hey, I'd love to see some pics of your finished projects if you have any!
Fred. to repair the carving on the violin don't sand it out. What you want to do is to carve it out and inlay a piece of similar wood. So try it.
First find a piece that might match the grain then cut out a piece to cover the carving.
Place the patch piece of wood over the carving and mark it's location on the violin. I would use painters tape.
Now cut out the carving leaving the cut slightly smaller than the patch. Just carve deep enough to take out the words, about 1mm - 2mm deep just be carfull not to go through.
Next fit the patch into the cutout and glue it in.
Plane and sand the patch flush and you're done.
This is basically the same process for repairing a dent from the sound post. It won't change the tone but sanding the carving out will effect it.
Kevin - sounds like a breeze, lmao!
I think I get it, but the challenges for me aren't matching the patch to the cutout, but finding the right wood for a patch; and then shaping it to match the contour of the rest of the body.
You're not talking about a thin veneer of any kind of wood for the patch right? Doesn't it have to be of the same type of wood, usually quartersawn maple, then plane the outside (since you're not cutting out the part of the back that's carve you also have to carve out the carving to a uniform surface so the [flat] bottom of the patch sits onto the carved out wood, and then shape the top of the patch to match the rest of the contour. This is a large section of the back (3" x 4"), it covers a lot of territory.
Pierre, that's a question I've had for a while (which glue), because I can't imagine you'd use hide glue (like on the seems), you'd want a more permanent bond. And then with a layer of glue between the old piece and the patch, there is surely some dampening of sound quality I would imagine.
If I can find the right piece of wood, I'll give it a shot though Kevin; cuz I understand the concept and think I can physically achieve it; it's just those few aspects I'm unsure of. Any recommendations to those questions Kevin?
You can see in this picture that the patch is very thin. This is showing fitting the patch to the cut-out using chalk to find the high spots. I prefer to use a thin veneer and heat it to shape it to fit rather than carve it to fit. Although the wood will never match completely the luthier has made a decorative shape out of the patch this way even though you can see the patch it will appear to be made that way originally.
Kevin M. said
The patch piece of wood should be a very thin veneer so it it will conform to the shape of the violin body. You can heat it first to help it conform and then glue it in with hide glue.
How do you heat it ? Do you use the dry heat of a flame or, do you boil or steam the wood to heat and soften ? Also, I'd imagine you would fasten it in place with hide glue ?
Thanks Kevin, that makes so much more sense than how I first interpreted what you were saying.
I think before I do a full blown patch, I'm going to see how the violin sounds (when I get it all put back together) with the thinner back (where I sanded) and just evaluate the sound as is. If it just doesn't sound at least "decent", I'll jump into a patch. If I do it, I'll let you know how it turns out.
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