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Viola Top Plate Crack/ Split


vlamast

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A few days ago at school I dropped my viola inside its case while trying to take it from my locker. The damage that my viola sustained was a break that runs all the way up the entire viola on the left side of the top plate through the f-hole, . also there is damage under the tail piece and possibly a warped sound post.

Questions I had are what i should be doing to the viola to keep the damage from getting worse while i wait to take it to a violin shop. And

Also what would be a rough estimate of the cost to repair and how much will it affect the tone of the viola?

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Hello, sorry to hear about your accident. One thing that you should do is unwind the strings to take the pressure off of the damaged top. Take care to not let the tail piece or fine tuners do more damage to the top. A soft cloth can be placed between tail piece and top to protect the top. If the bridge goes down, it's not that important right now. Cost of repair would be impossible to say without inspecting the instrument.

Scott

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I am sorry to hear about your viola. It can be heartbreaking to see your instrument in such a state.

If you haven't already, loosen the strings slightly. Not so much that the bridge falls off, but just to remove most of the tension from the instrument. Don't handle it too much. If the cracks get dirty or contaminated with oils from your fingers they will be much harder to repair. I would just leave it in the case until a luthier can look at it. Be careful not to lose any small pieces.

It is impossible to asses the damage without seeing the instrument, but this sounds severe. In my opinion a repair of this nature could easily be several thousand dollars, depending on what has to be done.

If it can be restored by a professional I don't think it will have a large impact on the sound. The only thing that might change the sound significantly would be if the bassbar needs to be replaced as part of repairing the cracks, and that can even be done so as to minimize the effect.

I hope you had the foresight to purchase insurance, and if you haven't- now might be a good time. :)

Regards,

Michael Doran

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Tuning the instrument down a bit would be good. Other than that, not much you can do. Cost for repair could range from about $250-300 for an uncomplicated split. If it's cracked along the bass bar, add another $100. If it's cracked over the soundpost, add another $200 or so. Can't tell about the damage under the tailpiece

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Vlamast,

The good thing is this is probably very repairable. A good repair person should be able to make those cracks invisible and often the instrument can actually sound better when repaired, especially if a new bassbar is needed and the old one was not very good to begin with. Just be careful where you bring it. Some people can do more damage by repairing it. If your neighbor has a hot glue gun in his hand and says he can do it for 50 bucks, I would be wary.

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At this point we don't know if the viola is an expensive or cheap instrument. The approach will be difeerent depending on the price of the instrument. If it is a cheap instrument an invisible repair may not be necessary, sometimes the repair will cost more than a new instrument.

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Resist the temptation to play with the crack. There is always the desire to see how bad the crack is and to see if it will close up. DON'T DO IT! :) If it's a clean crack, it's usually much easier for the repairman if it hasn't been played with. The edges of the crack remain cleaner and any little flakes of wood or varnish stay put. The best thing to do is lower the tension and leave the instrument in the case until you can get it to someone.

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Thanks so much for the helpful replies. The price of my viola is around $6,000-7,000 and i dont think that i did have the foresight to buy insurance T.T

I'm studying in singapore so not sure if there are any really good luthiers.

Luckily my conservatory has a very generous instrument collector so i was able to get a temporary instrument.

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Thanks so much for the helpful replies. The price of my viola is around $6,000-7,000 and i dont think that i did have the foresight to buy insurance T.T

I'm studying in singapore so not sure if there are any really good luthiers.

Luckily my conservatory has a very generous instrument collector so i was able to get a temporary instrument.

+++++++++++++++++

I think it is better to have it repaired. The damage is already done.

I have seen many kind of repair work.Some repair work are so good. some are invisible.

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Cost will be determined by who does the repair, and how the repair is approached. Sounds to me as though there's a bass bar crack (a crack either directly along side the bass bar or very near it).

First, let me stress that cost is not the best, and certainly not the only, way to determine if you're getting good work. Too many factors enter into that equation (cost of living, going rates in the area, etc., etc.)... but it's a good idea to check the reputation and background of who you choose to work on your instrument.

If the damage is what I'm envisioning, and one wishes to go "all the way" (give it to someone who will do all that's needed and has the skills to be cosmetically successful) , the repair will include (at the minimum) removing the top, removal of the bass bar, repair of the crack, fitting a new bass bar, cleating the crack, relieving the bar to fit over the cleats & gluing/finishing the bar, replacement of the top, associated fill & varnish work, and setting up (some of the old parts may be useable).

Again, who/where the person is who does the work will define the actual costs... and most of the better restorers/shops I know of have a bit of an availability problem (up to their ears in work), but that's an awful lot of work to expect in the 3 figure range. I'd be ready to hear numbers well north of what Doug mentioned. You'd be into 4 figures in my shop and the first digit would not be a "1"... and depending on the break (cross-grain/bias), possibly not a "2". Honestly, from your description, the repair would be into 4 figures even if a bar isn't required.

You may also want to consider the depreciation in value (due to repaired damage) before undertaking the repair.

There may be less expensive/invasive options, but I can't see the problem to know if they exist.

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You might also think about why the case did not prevent the damage. Look at how the instrument is supported, and where the impact loads will be transferred to the instrument. Perhaps the case might have actually helped cause the damage?

This thread got me started on the topic of cases, in another thread.

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