Jump to content
Maestronet Forums

BassClef
 Share

Recommended Posts

I recently acquired a 1/8 Michael-Ange Garini violin (JTL brand Mirecourt Violin) (aka a Mirecourt 1/4). I paid 112GBP after shipping and the instrument arrived in much worse condition than described/pictured. I was quoted a repair price of around $2000 to bring it back to good working condition. I was quoted a minimum price of $300 to open the violin, make a new lower block, and close the violin and was told by my luthier that even then the violin would need more repairs as the neck angle is wrong and would require a very large bridge to even be operational.

 

All of this was and is out of my budget, I expected to pay about $40 or so to have the seams closed which is all I thought was wrong based on the description/photos. The seller told me "too bad" and was unwilling to offer me a refund of any sort so I escalated the case on eBay and was swiftly awarded a decision victory in the resolution center. Being that the violin was shipped from the UK to NYC, I would be out $60 if I returned it with nothing to show, so rather than lose everything, the seller eventually agreed at the last minute to refund me 45GBP. So I chose to spend 67GBP for the broken violin/bow/case rather than spend $60 for nothing.

 

Rather than keep it as a wall hanger, I've been flirting with the idea of trying, with your help, to repair it myself. In my final year of high school, some 18 or so years ago, I did a one-semester internship with my luthier who showed me some basics but that was a long time ago and I pretty much have no experience to speak of. I am decent with my hands and am excited to repair this instrument to the best of my ability and resources. I've been assured my a noteworthy forum member that the violin is of no historic or monetary value, so I don't feel that I am disrespecting the trade in using the violin as training grounds or as my first subject.

 

The very basic repairs as I see it, would be to remove the top, reglue or create a new lower block, and close the top. However, as you can see in the pics below, and more in the link below, there are 4-6 nails that have been driven into the instrument. One below the button (I think), one in the fingerboard (I think, possibly original to the instrument?), and four next to where the neck meets the body. In an ideal world I would remove all of the nails and reset the neck to a proper angle, possibly even replacing the fingerboard and the nut. The pegs appear to be OK and the tailpiece, even though repaired, seems to be OK. The bottom button should be fine I think as well.

 

I have no tools and a very small budget to get this done. I cannot boil glue as this would be done in my living room at night with a small child in the other room sleeping. Is there an acceptable violin glue that can be worked with at room temperature? I do have a blunt flexible thin kitchen knife that might be good for removing the top.

 

What are your opinions as to what if anything I should fix about the violin and the best place to start. This will be at least a learning experience and possibly a fun thread, and if all goes well, I'll have a working violin in the end. I would even ideally like to cover up the scratched in name below the button. The purfling is scratched in and the flames are painted on. I'm not worried about this not being worth my time, as it would be a hobby for me that I am interested in doing.

 

I have no budget to buy books and take classes, this project would be done strictly with the help of fellow MNers. I am definitely willing to read web links and watch web videos to help me along. I eventually want to repair/restore the "worthless" bow and the "almost worthless" case, but will wait 'till the violin is complete first.

 

A little bit about me:

 

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/329805-oops-i-did-it-again-another-ebay-violin-18-another-bass-bar-crack/

 

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/329003-took-the-plunge-first-ebay-violin-toughts/

 

A link to the album with pics of the violin/bow/case:

 

http://s1000.photobucket.com/user/whatyoulookinatbish/library/Michel-Ange%20Garini%20one%20eighth%20Violin%20JTL

 

IMG_6543_zps9b3d450c.jpg

 

IMG_6540_zpsa773fd92.jpg

 

IMG_6542_zpsdc03942f.jpg

 

IMG_6534_zps7de9d94f.jpg

 

IMG_6536_zps1cbf21b4.jpg

 

IMG_6537_zps0b2fa939.jpg

 

IMG_6535_zps573b47aa.jpg

 

michel-ange-garini-1-8-inside-constructi

 

IMG_6539_zpse20f352d.jpg

 

IMG_3104_zpsa726322a.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 542
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

hide glue has got to be about the most benign glues on the face of the earth, bascaly jello ....with out color or sugar ..kinda gross ...but it can be done . and you never ever even want to boil it ...180F is HOT....160 F will do fine .

 the fiddle does look basket case though ,are the flames painted ?

 with out tools or experience ...glueing will be  the least of your problems.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

find a collecter who want's the case.???

   I haven't done repair yet ,except for my own mistakes, and none of them even aproch what I see here. Do you have the BOOK? that would be a good start. In the end it's like the old saying ..." you can put a lot of makeup on a pig ....and you still got a pig.... have at it ...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My advice would be to take it to someone who would get it playable for a hell of a lot less than 2000. I did more work than this on each of two fiddles last year for someone and the total cost was 750 dollars. And they turned out playing and sounding great. Not drumming up business..I have more than I can handle right now, but there should be someone out there who won't break your bank.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been told my a respected forum member that a very good quality 1/8 Garini with original fittings in near perfect shape would be around 3-400 GBP at auction (if my memory serves me right). I appreciate all of the advice current and future. I am still leaning towards fixing it up myself as nobody in the NYC area will be able to fix this for me for what I can afford and I've been to quite a few shops over the past year or so.

 

I don't have any books and not much of a budget for any books right now. I was hoping to be a project of some helpful and generous MNers who'd collectively walk me through what I would need to do to repair some dignity to this 100-year-old or so JTL 1/8 violin. Yes I see the humor of an amateur restoring dignity to anything but financially it's my only option.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Congratulation to your decision, and don't get discouraged!

Your big advantages are, that you're not in danger to destroy a masterpiece, nobody will condemn you, if it will lok "amateurish" afterwards, and you have, in opposite to the professionals, lots of time for your work!

Forget for now about the nails, the block, the neck and the glueing:The first step would be to open the violin without causing more additional damage as necessary. It will not be necessary to buy expensive violin restorer tools, but some good basic tools are important nevertheless!

What about your knife? Is it really thin (less than 0,5 mm or  at the sharp side), hard and can you sharpen it (a blunt blade won't work)? How long is the blade?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

. The purfling is scratched in and the flames are painted on. I'm not worried about this not being worth my time, as it would be a hobby for me that I am interested in doing.

 

 

 

Ahh, famous last wordsI "Well it began as a hobby, but as you see now my childs room and the bath room and the garage have all been filled with tools and fiddles to fix. It all began on eBay with this 1/8 th size...........""  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My knife is less than 1/64 inches thick (although the blur in the image makes it look a little wider) and has a serrated edge which I don't plan on using, so yes, less than .5mm at the thickest point. The other side is not sharp like a knife but is not completely dull either. I can sharpen it if it looks like a good tool for the job. It is flexible. Here's a link to the knife although mine was acquired about 17 years ago so it might be slightly different. Will this do? Thank you Black Face for your generosity and encouragement. And LOL at "famous last words" yes, I am worried about that too...

 

http://www.cutco.com/products/product.jsp?itemGroup=1768

 

photo2_zpsbad7f7d4.jpg

 

photo1_zps0e336d34.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is some reading on the topic:  http://www.theluthierhelper.com/results.htm?cx=013329229839499987943%3Av2k87e3jzvu&cof=FORID%3A9&ie=UTF-8&q=removing+top+violin&sa=Search&siteurl=www.theluthierhelper.com%2F&ref=www.maestronet.com%2Fforum%2Findex.php%3F%2Ftopic%2F325551-removing-violin-table%2F&ss=6264j4284808j21

 

Since you will get plenty of methods and ideas in the above reading, I will just add a few basics.

Be careful where you put your non-knife hand to protect it from sudden unexpected movement of the knife.  Assuming you are right-handed, you might want to rest your right palm or wrist against the ribs to control the opening knife, and keep your left thumb on the top above where the knife is cutting in order to feel what is happening during the process. 

 

Here are a couple opening knives I use.  The longer blade is thin and sharp at the tip and is used for getting into the seam, usually near the chinrest area.  The shorter blade is probably stiffer than a lot of folks use but is what I use to work around the top and do the actual glue popping.  It is tapered - thinner at the leading edge and thicker at the trailing edge.  The leading edge is intentionally dull.   I work it along the seam slowly, continually checking that the blade is not cutting into the top or the ribs.   When the going gets tough, I sometimes drip a small drop of alcohol on the blade and let it run into the seam, being careful not to get any on the varnish.  I have a longer palette knife (not pictured) that I use to free the upper block (the last step for me). 

 

 

Good luck on the project.

post-433-0-00162800-1395208188_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd suggest that you start with case restoration, because this case (I like it very very much) is not damaged badly and has all original hardware, the restoration will be, as far as I can see, straight forward job and you could finish with the case that worth more than this poor fiddle itself. The retouching of the case is much easier job than the retouching of the violin, so it could be a good exercise for future touch-up stunts. Doing this, you will have enough time to make the plan (very important step)  for restoration of violin, you can collect some literature from Internet and in the library and buy some things you will need, i.e. glue and clamps for closing the body. Regarding clamps, you can maybe make a few for yourself: http://www.woodmagazine.com/woodworking-tips/techniques/skills/gluing-clamping-tips/?catref=wd146&page=5. You will need the knife (knives), so, If you cannot afford the "real thing" right now, you can start with X-Acto (or Excell) knife, till you see what you really need. And so forth, step by step, but very carefully and slowly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're in way over your head! No tools or repair knowledge, an a professional repair cost well above the value of the instrument. I'dd say keep it as a wall hanger, or sell it to recover part of your costs. Why do you want a 1/8 violin in the first place? If it's for a kid, they don't need an antique fiddle to wreck, they can do that just as well with a Chinese fiddle that only costs a couple hundred $.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The best principle when repairing violins is always “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly”. You have already been told that this ersatz-Tiddle isn’t really “worth doing” properly or otherwise, although I appriciate that either amateur curiosity about the violin making craft, or the stubborn refusal to realize that buying antique violins on ebay is money for old rope, can alter the calculation.

Should one decide to defy reason, and repair this violin “properly”, it will involve taking it to pieces, cleaning it, and putting it back together again. This Humpty-Dumpty sort of job, is actually quite straight forward, but there are so many beginners mistakes waiting to be made, that you should think first, if you don’t have a freindly violin maker who might tolerate you doing it in his workshop/nightclass, rather than mimeing Punch on a public forum.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is some reading on the topic:  http://www.theluthierhelper.com/results.htm?cx=013329229839499987943%3Av2k87e3jzvu&cof=FORID%3A9&ie=UTF-8&q=removing+top+violin&sa=Search&siteurl=www.theluthierhelper.com%2F&ref=www.maestronet.com%2Fforum%2Findex.php%3F%2Ftopic%2F325551-removing-violin-table%2F&ss=6264j4284808j21

 

Since you will get plenty of methods and ideas in the above reading, I will just add a few basics.

Be careful where you put your non-knife hand to protect it from sudden unexpected movement of the knife.  Assuming you are right-handed, you might want to rest your right palm or wrist against the ribs to control the opening knife, and keep your left thumb on the top above where the knife is cutting in order to feel what is happening during the process. 

 

Here are a couple opening knives I use.  The longer blade is thin and sharp at the tip and is used for getting into the seam, usually near the chinrest area.  The shorter blade is probably stiffer than a lot of folks use but is what I use to work around the top and do the actual glue popping.  It is tapered - thinner at the leading edge and thicker at the trailing edge.  The leading edge is intentionally dull.   I work it along the seam slowly, continually checking that the blade is not cutting into the top or the ribs.   When the going gets tough, I sometimes drip a small drop of alcohol on the blade and let it run into the seam, being careful not to get any on the varnish.  I have a longer palette knife (not pictured) that I use to free the upper block (the last step for me). 

 

 

Good luck on the project.

Thanks, I've read a few of the links and the general consensus is to use the method you describe in your post. Thanks! What specifically is wrong with the knife I was considering using? I have a new paring knife that's very sharp, very thin, but not flexible. Is that a candidate?

 

Anyone reading, I'd love to see more photos of the knives that you use to take the top off of a violin.

 

Should I heat the knife in boiling water?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd suggest that you start with case restoration, because this case (I like it very very much) is not damaged badly and has all original hardware, the restoration will be, as far as I can see, straight forward job and you could finish with the case that worth more than this poor fiddle itself. The retouching of the case is much easier job than the retouching of the violin, so it could be a good exercise for future touch-up stunts. Doing this, you will have enough time to make the plan (very important step)  for restoration of violin, you can collect some literature from Internet and in the library and buy some things you will need, i.e. glue and clamps for closing the body. Regarding clamps, you can maybe make a few for yourself: http://www.woodmagazine.com/woodworking-tips/techniques/skills/gluing-clamping-tips/?catref=wd146&page=5. You will need the knife (knives), so, If you cannot afford the "real thing" right now, you can start with X-Acto (or Excell) knife, till you see what you really need. And so forth, step by step, but very carefully and slowly.

 

I'd like to restore the case and starting on it now sounds good to me. What do you recommend doing to it? All of the metal pieces are very rusty looking. The Lock mechanism is in a locked position preventing the top from closing cleanly. I have a locksmith that can fashion a key from scratch for $25, but the inside of the mechanism looks rusted as well. The purple felt is generally worn down and the cardboard flaps are in pretty bad shape too. Any input about the case restoration would be much appreciated while I get my ducks in order with the violin project. I'll look into those knives you linked to, thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're in way over your head! No tools or repair knowledge, an a professional repair cost well above the value of the instrument. I'd say keep it as a wall hanger, or sell it to recover part of your costs. Why do you want a 1/8 violin in the first place? If it's for a kid, they don't need an antique fiddle to wreck, they can do that just as well with a Chinese fiddle that only costs a couple hundred $.

 

I've written off the cost of the instrument/case/bow at this point and am not trying to recover it. I have been considering it as a wall hanger but would like to get it back into playing condition. I've been assured that this antique fiddle has little to no historical, cultural, or monetary value so I'm not worried about using it as a tool to learn how to do basic repairs. My little girl might use it in the future when she's old enough, but my primary goal is to bring it back into playing condition and the only way to do it within a budget that makes sense to anyone is to do it myself with the help of the forum. I'll consider buying a $200 Chinese instrument at some point. Thank you for your post.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The best principle when repairing violins is always “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly”. You have already been told that this ersatz-Tiddle isn’t really “worth doing” properly or otherwise, although I appreciate that either amateur curiosity about the violin making craft, or the stubborn refusal to realize that buying antique violins on ebay is money for old rope, can alter the calculation.

Should one decide to defy reason, and repair this violin “properly”, it will involve taking it to pieces, cleaning it, and putting it back together again. This Humpty-Dumpty sort of job, is actually quite straight forward, but there are so many beginners mistakes waiting to be made, that you should think first, if you don’t have a freindly violin maker who might tolerate you doing it in his workshop/nightclass, rather than mimeing Punch on a public forum.

 

The advise I got from the luthier is that having it repaired professionally isn't worth doing as the cost to repair it properly would exceed the value of the repaired instrument. So my options are to do nothing with it, fix it myself to the best of my ability, or have someone fix it for me and charge me far less than the work is worth which I don't expect to happen. I don't have the contacts to call in any favors with local luthiers who might be willing to supervise the job in their workshop and have neither the time or the money to commit to classes and paid internships etc. I can always count on you to throw out some lingo that is unfamiliar to a New Yorker such as myself, but if "mimeing Punch" means making a fool out of myself, I'm not worried about that. This is a learning experience and any mistakes that I make along the way on a public forum comes with the territory. I believe with the help of some generous MNers I will be able to bring the violin back to playing condition on my own and that's what I intend to do.  Worst case scenario is that I completely destroy a violin that everybody has been calling worthless to begin with. Thanks for your input Jacob.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd like to restore the case and starting on it now sounds good to me. What do you recommend doing to it? All of the metal pieces are very rusty looking. The Lock mechanism is in a locked position preventing the top from closing cleanly. I have a locksmith that can fashion a key from scratch for $25, but the inside of the mechanism looks rusted as well. The purple felt is generally worn down and the cardboard flaps are in pretty bad shape too. Any input about the case restoration would be much appreciated while I get my ducks in order with the violin project. I'll look into those knives you linked to, thanks.

First, read this: http://nativeground.com/articles/101.html. I cannot see how the hardware was fixed, I suppose using screws? If I'm right, you can easily remove all the hardware so you can enjoy in rust removal (read this first: http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=5283.0). Coca Cola (old type, with sugar) works pretty well, vinegar is OK too, vinegar with salt maybe (I haven't tried it, but chemistry behind this procedure is OK). Use tootbrush and finest steel wool you can find (I use Liberon 0000). Actually, this is not quite rust "removal", rather conversion of oxides and xydroxides into more stable acetates or phosphates, so, when you reach nice blackish (or grayish) surface, wash parts thoroughly in soapy water, dry them well and protect with some fine oil. Then, you will see whether you want to make the key or just to open the lock.

Regarding felt, you have to tailor and glue new pieces (it was discussed here already: http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/316946-coffin-case-repair/); regarding parts made from cardboard - use the old parts as a model for making the new ones, or support them with the layer of lining or thin cardboard.

For repair of case's construction, use epoxy glue. For linings, PVAc. Enjoy! And post some pictures.

 

Edit: Of course, for repair of this case's construction, you can successfully use the hide glue, maybe you should do that this way, in order to become familiar with this procedure.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Excellent Franciscus, thanks for these ideas. I will read the links you provided! One problem is that these metal parts are attached by rivets and not screws making removing them more of a job for a professional and putting them back would be with replacement parts. I need to do whatever restoration in-house so removing the metal parts doesn't seem like an option. The locking mechanism is also attached with rivets.

 

Here are some quickly-taken images to show you the parts.

 

 

post-66674-0-00922500-1395248961_thumb.jpg

post-66674-0-91994400-1395248969_thumb.jpg

post-66674-0-01866000-1395248979_thumb.jpg

post-66674-0-33424400-1395248987_thumb.jpg

post-66674-0-67007400-1395248995_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You will have to replace the linings, so, try to separate the lining from the case wall where you can see the other side of some rivet(s). Very often, for fixing the hardware on instrument cases, split rivets are used and you can remove them easily (you will see). If, however, you have here classic rivets, there is a weapon against them too. Just take a look.

 

Edit: Of course, if you cannot see anything from the other side, you do not have the rivets, but nails (I doubt it)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Vinegar will strip all that lovely patina off , so unless you are going in a full restore to new condition , I'd be careful.  A lot of times, a rusted lock will free up with a bit of jiggling and blowing the dust out perhaps a thin tool to break things up a little.

  The general rule on cleaning for Restoration is to start as mild as possible ,especially with grits... , there is nothing worse ,for a restorer,than trying to cover your own tracks .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Vinegar will strip all that lovely patina off , so unless you are going in a full restore to new condition , I'd be careful.  A lot of times, a rusted lock will free up with a bit of jiggling and blowing the dust out perhaps a thin tool to break things up a little.

  The general rule on cleaning for Restoration is to start as mild as possible ,especially with grits... , there is nothing worse ,for a restorer,than trying to cover your own tracks .

 

I was a little worried about this, I want to keep the patina but remove the rust, is that possible? What do you recommend fixing in/on the case to preserve the nice parts but fix up the rest. For instance, the lining should be replaced, right? I don't want a full-on restoration, but rather to fix it up to good condition and remove/fix the broken stuff. Thanks for your post.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

MY 2  cents,The rust is the patina , you just want to knock it back a bit , wear it a bit , even a strong cloth rubbed, maybe with a bit of water just damp to pull loose dirt ,after that any bit of wax or a drying oil will protect the surface ,  If the intention is to use the case ...I would replace the cloth ...or not? a lot of times the term "restoration"is loosely applied, process's used to breath in new life to an old object  has a lot to do with it's final intended end use...."restoring" a flintlock from 1776 for use today,as opposed to a cleaned up wall hanger with a new fore-stock blended in,  very different processes ,  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

MY 2  cents,The rust is the patina , you just want to knock it back a bit , wear it a bit , even a strong cloth rubbed, maybe with a bit of water just damp to pull loose dirt ,after that any bit of wax or a drying oil will protect the surface ,  If the intention is to use the case ...I would replace the cloth ...or not? a lot of times the term "restoration"is loosely applied, process's used to breath in new life to an old object  has a lot to do with it's final intended end use...."restoring" a flintlock from 1776 for use today,as opposed to a cleaned up wall hanger with a new fore-stock blended in,  very different processes ,  

Two cents more: the rust is not the patina. The rust is product of corrosion and consists of hydrated iron(III)oxides Fe2O3·nH2O and iron(III) oxide-hydroxide - FeO(OH), Fe(OH)3. Patina is the rather stable layer which provide the protection against the corrosion and consists of oxides, carbonates, sulfides, sulfates, acetates, phosphates etc., but never hydrated. Vinegar is very often used for forcing the patina on new (non SS) steel products, i.e. carbon steel knives.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.




×
×
  • Create New...