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lambert

Is this fiddle "too nice" for amateur repair work?

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lambert   

Hey all,

 

I'm not entirely inept at repairs, but wondering if this is one for the pros.

 

Recently picked it up at an antique store... The quality of the construction has caused me to set it aside until I can get a sense of what it is. Im guessing Mittenwald?

 

It has:

c bout linings let into the blocks, which are mitered and come to a sharp point

A stamp under the endpin possibly reading: 1882  12

Generic Antonius Stradiuarius label

Pencil marks on the back suggesting attention to graduations

graduations that seem pretty in keeping with strad style grads.

 

Oh and here are the photos:

post-30512-0-88282500-1426890577_thumb.jpgpost-30512-0-59936900-1426890630_thumb.jpgpost-30512-0-59692500-1426890605_thumb.jpgpost-30512-0-62313300-1426890658_thumb.jpgpost-30512-0-92695200-1426890647_thumb.jpgpost-30512-0-05656700-1426890638_thumb.jpgpost-30512-0-99967600-1426890611_thumb.jpgpost-30512-0-42332700-1426890585_thumb.jpgpost-30512-0-99763900-1426890685_thumb.jpgpost-30512-0-57955200-1426890678_thumb.jpgpost-30512-0-75864800-1426890667_thumb.jpgpost-30512-0-14881000-1426890695_thumb.jpgpost-30512-0-07862600-1426890704_thumb.jpgpost-30512-0-61571200-1426890622_thumb.jpg

post-30512-0-91499000-1426890595_thumb.jpg

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Don Noon   

I can't answer for origin or value, but it does look like a nicely made instrument with a lot of visible history and use.  I would hate to see poorly done repairs, yet it needs enough work so having a pro do it might cost way more than it's worth.  Should make a cool fiddle, though.  No answers, just comments.

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 I would hate to see poorly done repairs, yet it needs enough work so having a pro do it might cost way more than it's worth. 

 

Those would be my thoughts, too.

 

It might be worthwhile, as a first step, to take it to a pro shop and get a quote on restoration and an appraisal on the value of the instrument fully restored.  With those numbers, you'd know more about how to proceed.

 

If the restoration quote exceeds value, then you can proceed to do your best, restoring it with a good conscience that you aren't harming a valuable fiddle.

 

Being an amateur restorer wouldn't be the issue.  It would be experience and having tools and work area to do the job.  If this is your first attempt at restoration and if you plan to do more, then maybe you can set this one aside and do a few simpler jobs before taking this on.

 

Actually it looks like most of the work, here,  is gluing seams, neck connection and loose blocks.  Cracks don't look that abundant.  This might be very doable with a bit of experience with gluing.

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lambert   

Thanks guys,

The repairs on this are all things I've done before, but it's always been on lesser quality instruments, so I really just wanted to check in and make sure this wasn't something too out of my league... I feel good about doing the work, but then there is a certain line of historical and or monetary value I'd sooner not cross as well :P

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It looks like a well made, nontraditional late Saxon to me.  Judging by the lower bouts, lack of pins, and the lining finishing, it isn't "golden age" Mittenwald,  I stumbled into one of those early on for a hundred bucks on eBay without knowing what it was and proceeded to decrack and rebush the pegbox, do a full neck/upper block reattachment with rib graft, stabilize a treble outer f-hole crack, as well as do all the seams, cut a nut and saddle, do pegs, and all the rest of a set up.  Somehow, we both survived, and it's now my best playing fiddle.  If someone had told me it was worth a great deal more than I paid for it, I might have had stage fright.   :lol:

 

I'd say that it all depends on how nice the amateur repair work is  :) .

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I don't think it's Saxon, Vda, everything except the lower rib and saddle point to decent late 19thc.-early 20thc. Mittenwald, especially the corner blocks and the varnish. The 2-piece bottom rib with the purfling could be a repair, as several of these that I've seen needed shortening of the lower rib at some point. I actually have a "set" of these I've kept from my dad's "shop stock," from 1/8th-1/4-1/2-7/8th size.

 

I don't see anything "frightening" about the needed repairs, no sound post patches or arching distortions. Getting the ribs back into shape and setting the neck properly will be important, but if you've done this before, Lambert, you shouldn't be afraid to try doing it on this fiddle. It is quite nicely made, but I don't think it's value would be high enough to warrant spending a great deal on it, I also don't see anything that would require "irreversible" repairs, so if it doesn't come out perfect, you could always go back, and re-do things, or bring it to a "pro" later.

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Agree with Michael - definitely built with an inner mould, typical Mittenwald "Verleger" violin in all aspects, of a good quality - maybe more 4th quarter of the 19th than early 20th century IMO.

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I quite agree with BF: An obvious classic Mittenwald „Verleger“ from the end of the 19th C. (Neuner & Hornsteiner or similar). I find it a little unfair of you to expect Maestroneters to judge what you might be capable of yourself, since we (well, I for certain) have no idea of even who you are.

It doesn't seem to have any cracks. You will have to remove and shorten the bottom saddle, which is pushing the centre joint open, and clean the dirt out of all open joints to re-glue them. Would be worth doing properly, since if immaculately repaired I would want to retail such an instrument at +/- about €2000 Inc. VAT, but if wrecked by an out of his depth DIY operative (not that I am suggesting that this is what you are, since I cannot judge that at all), I might consider it worthless.

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Would you guys leave the lower bout belly alone or try to refinish the bare area coloring and finish?  Getting it back to playing condition would be first priority for me.  What do you think, Carl?

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jezzupe   

I'm in agreement with the others. As you have no apparent plates cracks or anything dramatic other than some open seems, and dealing with the saddle area, I think it's very doable....I feel the real challenge here is "how do I address the varnish" I think a French polish is in order with perhaps a very,very thin dilute coat of wax free shellac first in order to weld and or glue the existing varnish together. It's pretty "crispy" and thus flaky {as seen in the FF holes area, and just in general. I'd be interested in what the experts think about that because to me it's the varnish that really needs the attention. How to preserve, without destroying, without making it worse.

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What have you got to lose here?

 About €2.000, but never mind, the ol' "green toilet paper" grows on trees, doesn't it

 

Would you guys leave the lower bout belly alone or try to refinish the bare area coloring and finish?

Leave alone :It only needs properly cleaning. The shading of the varnish is probably (mostly) original to the instrument

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jezzupe   

 About €2.000, but never mind, the ol' "green toilet paper" grows on trees, doesn't it

 

Leave alone :It only needs properly cleaning. The shading of the varnish is probably (mostly) original to the instrument

"proper cleaning"  What do you suggest? dry wiping? dry damp cloth? any type of "cleaner/solvent"? I am very interested in approaching instruments like this and just "how do you deal with varnish that looks like that"

 

My concern with "french polish" is what you point out, seemingly any " varnish/oil/etc" would darken any raw'ish areas and ruin the look...all the worn edges would take it in and darken it, let alone the big burned through area....

 

What is "proper cleaning" from a restoration guys point of view...???

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I think I would start with a rag with some paraffin oil and “Wiener Kalk”, which might not be known in America, but pumice powder would be roughly the same. Then, when the dirt is gone, I would polish it with a rag damped with my polishing mixture and a little spirit. (N.B. between “damp” and “wet” is a universe of difference!)

PS.

My polishing mixture consists of:

1 part water (out of the tap)

1 part spirit of campfer (from the apothecary)

1 part turpentine (not to be confused with turpentine substitute!”)

1 part paraffin oil (from the apothecary)

You have to shake the bottle, 'cos it's an emulsion before you DAMP your polishing rag with it. If you mix it yourself, the most expensive part is the bottle.

Edit:

I have been PMed that Wiener Kalk is calcium magnesium carbonate, sold in the US as dolomite lime, not to be confused with hydrated lime by mistake (caustic). Pumice is probably rather coarser, and therefore less appropriate

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jezzupe   

I think I would start with a rag with some paraffin oil and “Wiener Kalk”, which might not be known in America, but pumice powder would be roughly the same. Then, when the dirt is gone, I would polish it with a rag damped with my polishing mixture and a little spirit. (N.B. between “damp” and “wet” is a universe of difference!)

PS.

My polishing mixture consists of:

1 part water (out of the tap)

1 part spirit of campfer (from the apothecary)

1 part turpentine (not to be confused with turpentine substitute!”)

1 part paraffin oil (from the apothecary)

You have to shake the bottle, 'cos it's an emulsion before you DAMP your polishing rag with it. If you mix it yourself, the most expensive part is the bottle.

Excellent info, thanks a bunch!

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I think I would start with a rag with some paraffin oil and “Wiener Kalk”, which might not be known in America, but pumice powder would be roughly the same. Then, when the dirt is gone, I would polish it with a rag damped with my polishing mixture and a little spirit. (N.B. between “damp” and “wet” is a universe of difference!)

PS.

My polishing mixture consists of:

1 part water (out of the tap)

1 part spirit of campfer (from the apothecary)

1 part turpentine (not to be confused with turpentine substitute!”)

1 part paraffin oil (from the apothecary)

You have to shake the bottle, 'cos it's an emulsion before you DAMP your polishing rag with it. If you mix it yourself, the most expensive part is the bottle.

Edit:

I have been PMed that Wiener Kalk is calcium magnesium carbonate, sold in the US as dolomite lime, not to be confused with hydrated lime by mistake (caustic). Pumice is probably rather coarser, and therefore less appropriate

Thanks much for your recipe.  Thank you and the others for the pointer on late Mittenwalders.  I'd figured the OP violin simply meant that somebody in Saxony could learn to use an inside mold by 1920 or so.  I'll now watch for these.  One learns here constantly  :)

 

The difference between pumice and the carbonates is that pumice is basically foamed volcanic glass while the softer abrasives are like limestone or dolomite.  This means that it's much harder than Wiener kalk or rottenstone and made up of little sharp angular fragments.  I wouldn't substitute one for the other even at equal fineness.  I also treat powdered pumice with the caution I bestow on ground glass in general.  I find food grade diatomaceous earth better than pumice for a number of fine abrasive jobs requiring silica.

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Seems like your belly center joint is being "opened" by a plug of some sort, it appears, though I'm sure the saddle isn't helping matters either.  jeff

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lambert   

Thank you all for the help, and Jacob, I really appreciate you contributing that recipe in addition to your advice and knowledge of the fiddles origins.

 

Jeff-- The belly has a pretty large pin near the saddle. The separation on closer inspection is actually a crack that has developed about 1.5mm parallel to the center seam. It was glued previously, but obviously that repair hasn't held up.  

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Regarding Wiener Kalk: "Wiener" here does not describe the origin, but the purpose  - German word „Wienern“ means polishing, buffing and raising a shine. So, one should be very careful with all those "Wiener Kalk"s around. For example, well known Schmitzol's Wiener Kalk is a mixture of approximately 25% kaolinite and 75% ground quartz. The best source of really fine particles of carbonates is some  chemical lab using P.A. chemicals that are obtained by precipitation, not by grounding the minerals.

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BassClef   

If you said pass the Weiner Kalk in an American shop you would get funny looks. That is pretty funny. But a good recipe I'll try it. 

 

I defer to your expertise on the matter, Mr. Faulk.

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