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Worst repair jobs that you've seen


Kallie

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As "Not telling" mentioned in a previous post:

 

...epoxy, nails meant for furniture, sanded and refinished with deck sealer...we have all seen some unbelievable things. This should be its own thread...

 

It got me thinking. What is the worst repairs that you've seen? What was done, and with what was that done?

 

This may well bring up some interesting cases. :)

 

I'll start, although this may not even come close to what others have seen: I remember a violin on eBay, where the cracks were repaired with white glue. The white glue literally peeled out of the crack. And it was shown on the photos.

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This could be confession time for repairs that I've done and never want to see again. I've gotten the ocasional copper wire for tail gut. One had fish line instead of strings. Not really to topic, I got a really well made one, cleanest inside work that I've ever seen, with a split and incomplete end block. Inside this instrument was a suitable piece of wood for a new block, the top was not seperated at all, glued shut. This was a family heirloom of the customers that I had been told quite a bit about. After raising the bridge this thing moved violently in my hands and made a loud and long lasting sound like a screaming eagle. Haunted? I think so. I've had strings and tail guts slip before, but this was not the case.

 

Scott

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I've seen the copper wire tail gut. Another with the tail gut so short that the tail piece sat firmly on the saddle. That same instrument had nice rosewood pegs that were trimmed to match the taper of the pegbox... Until you turned the pegs. :D

I hope I never see one in person, but I've seen several photos of woodscrews used for neck-button repairs. Also photos of crazy glue used to fill string grooves in a fingerboard. But that was a fiddle, not a violin. ;)

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I see a Bass that has the soundpost screwed in. A countersunk screw that is covered with wood putty and retouched.

 

Curiously, only the top is screwed in.

 

Another was: the soundpost fell, when he was in high school, so...he drilled a hole in the center of the top, just behind the bridge, and put a generous dollop of yellow glue on the bottom and inserted a 3/8" dowel through the top to the back. He then proceeded to sand the dowel smooth on the top and refinished the top to match.

 

The worst: a violin stamped "Made in Italy" around the button. Contino, I think. He's Canadian. The top was all of 2mm thick all over when he was done with it. Too thin. So, he says, you know, ay, I found this maple edging veneer at the hardware store, ay, and it comes in 1" strips. So I took it and you know, ay, I glued it in strips to the top with waterproof glue, ay. So, he shows it to me. Now the top is 3mm thick, but had 1" wide strips of maple edge banding, edge to edge, lengthwise on the top. 

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My worst repair job stories all seem to involve basses:

 

I saw one bass that had been repaired with fiberglass.

 

I heard of one on which a loose bass bar had been repaired by screwing wood screws through the top from the outside into the bar.  This was a fine carved bass.

 

I heard of a laminated bass that was the property of a cruise ship, left on board for any visiting bassists playing in bands to use while entertaing the paying passengers.  It was brought to a shop because it had a buzz.  The shop repairman found that the entire body was covered with duct tape.  It seems that the humid ocean air had gradually softened the glue between the laminations.  Every time something came loose another layer of tape was added.

 

In "The Violin Explained" James Beament relates the story of a repairman who took the top off a bass and found a cast iron glue pot stuck to the inside of the back.  (page 178)  The owner was surprised at how much lighter the bass was with the pot removed.

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I saw this cello for sale by a private party in Green Bay WI: The top was from a different cello and was nailed to the upper ribs with what looked like carpet tacks.  The bridge was about an inch too short; fingerboard projection was obviously messed up. It was first time shopping for a cello so I wasn't aware of what all else was wrong.  Wish I had pictures for you.  :mellow:

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Hey!  I can make one of those! :P

 

No, I don’t think so… (see  post # 12)

In fact this is a sculpture by Arman (Armand Fernandez) called “Hommage á Picasso”

(or to his abstract work, still life with violin).

 

The difference between bad and good repair is in one small detail: good is also a sort of hommage to the original state of the violin (and to its maker as well)...

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The best one I never saw was on a 3/4 Juzek bass, played professionally all around New York. The owner wasn't thrilled with the sound and decided that the top was too thick. He proceeded to cut about a 4x6 or 5x7 "window" into the treble side C bout. This allowed him access to to the interior of the bass where he thinned the top using an electric drill fitted with a 6" sanding disc. Sand/play/sand/play until the sound was to his liking. An added benefit was the hands-on ease of positioning the soundpost. When it was okay he taped the rib back in place. He played it that way for years. Guess what? It sounded great!

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The best one I never saw was on a 3/4 Juzek bass, played professionally all around New York. The owner wasn't thrilled with the sound and decided that the top was too thick. He proceeded to cut about a 4x6 or 5x7 "window" into the treble side C bout. This allowed him access to to the interior of the bass where he thinned the top using an electric drill fitted with a 6" sanding disc. Sand/play/sand/play until the sound was to his liking. An added benefit was the hands-on ease of positioning the soundpost. When it was okay he taped the rib back in place. He played it that way for years. Guess what? It sounded great!

 

These are a couple of great ideas.

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This was one in my area that became famous between repair people:

 

A lute that was sent out from a mail order instrument dealer- it was damaged and repaired. The lutes top had a patch of this model aircraft plywood glued and through bolted with small bolts and washers over a crack in the top.

 

The online description of the lute included  the "repair" which was forensically labeled as "a small overlay crack repair".  

 

Shark in the Morning. 

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This was one in my area that became famous between repair people:

 

A lute that was sent out from a mail order instrument dealer- it was damaged and repaired. The lutes top had a patch of this model aircraft plywood glued and through bolted with small bolts and washers over a crack in the top.

 

The online description of the lute included  the "repair" which was forensically labeled as "a small overlay crack repair".  

 

Shark in the Morning. 

Lute=Loot.  shark-attack-smiley.gif?1292867670    no-points-smiley.gif?1292867644

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I came across a steel rod for a soundpost once.

 

I see a Bass that has the soundpost screwed in. A countersunk screw that is covered with wood putty and retouched.

 

Curiously, only the top is screwed in.

 

Another was: the soundpost fell, when he was in high school, so...he drilled a hole in the center of the top, just behind the bridge, and put a generous dollop of yellow glue on the bottom and inserted a 3/8" dowel through the top to the back. He then proceeded to sand the dowel smooth on the top and refinished the top to match.

 

 

How do these instruments sound/play?

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The worst I've seen was a Honore Derazey shop violin. From the outside it looked fine, with a few repaired cracks in the top. When I opened the violin, I found cleats made of oak. The replaced neck block had the grain running sideways or parallel to the ribs.. The reset neck was cut back into the top/block 7 mm deeper than original. The ribs didn't make contact with the block anywhere, and the void was filled with some type of glue poured in, not hide glue. A new bassbar had been fitted, or should I say not fitted. I managed to get it off with a razor blade in one piece, and when held to the belly was at least 1/4 inch off the belly at both ends, and too long. There was an oak soundpost patch applied, luckily for me not inset, that was a big round hump that would be impossible to fit a post to, and there was no sp crack in the first place. There was no original varnish on the top, and the rest of the violin was over-varnished with a different color. White pips like on pegs were applied to the eyes of the scroll. The end pin hole was reamed enough to drive a truck through. The button was broke off and had been replaced with new wood. The guy actually wrote his name and repair date inside on the back for all to see.  

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This set of pictures is why I shouldn't have my own retail shop. If this came through my door, the f-bomb would get thrown around and I would probably call the police. Or I would have security guards throw out the person who brought this to me. Not even kidding.

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