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jacobsaunders

Bellosio decapitation

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Late last night, a borderline suicidal customer rang up, at his wits end. He had dropped his Bellosio viola, and the neck had broken out (with the button). From a violin restoring point of view, it isn’t really a big deal, I have described this repair before, https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/330042-violin-id-and-repair-advice/&do=findComment&comment=617534 but for him it was a mortal blow.

 

I was wondering, how colleagues go about calming down such a customer, when they ring late at night, when one is slightly pixilated anyway, with a couple of beers intus, and is on the way to bed?

I suppose one could say “Oh shit! it’s knackered, I’ll give you 20 quid for it”, but that would be a bit naughty, wouldn’t it.

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Serious answer ...

Empathize with the customer, show you understand that it must be devastating.

Point out that there are thousands of great instruments in daily professional use that have been repaired after having the same accident. When done well it's near invisible, it really won't devalue the instrument significantly, and it won't affect the sound.

"Come by first thing in the morning and I will show you how we can fix this. Don't worry - I know it seems like the end of the world but you would be amazed how common this is and how readily it can be sorted out"

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53 minutes ago, martin swan said:

Serious answer ...

Empathize with the customer, show you understand that it must be devastating.

Point out that there are thousands of great instruments in daily professional use that have been repaired after having the same accident. When done well it's near invisible, it really won't devalue the instrument significantly, and it won't affect the sound.

"Come by first thing in the morning and I will show you how we can fix this. Don't worry - I know it seems like the end of the world but you would be amazed how common this is and how readily it can be sorted out"

Yes, that is roughly what I did. I also lent him my Mathias Thir viola (which is the same size almost to the mm) so he would leave me in peace for a week or two.

He still looked like a warmed up corpse though

.

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He will be all the more thrilled when he sees the end result.

I think another factor in this scenario is that people are quite traumatised by having caused damage to something valuable. Even if it's not their fault, they maybe see themselves as custodians of the instrument and feel they have failed it.

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3 hours ago, mendicus said:

It would be nice if you post some pictures of interior of viola once it will be opened.

I will do my best. The first step is to do nothing at all, until the insurance has agreed to pay me for it, so a little patience please.

 

1 hour ago, Delabo said:

Will it get an ebony crown ?

Or is that not needed if the repair is to be invisible ?

 

 

The aim of the repair will be to get everything back right there, where it was before, so that a “crown” would have no useful purpose

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Look at this way: once the repair is done, near invisible, you will have that customer in the palm of your hand.  S/he will be so grateful, and tell everyone what a genius you are....  Best publicicty is a satisfied cutomer, not that Jacob needs it. :-)

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19 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

The aim of the repair will be to get everything back right there, where it was before, so that a “crown” would have no useful purpose

Yes, I saw your excellent post some months back on invisibly grafting a button. I just wondered why so many ebony crowns were put on in the past when the main problem seems to have been a detached button. Or were they put on because of wear ?

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Yes, crowns are sometimes installed to restore the shape of a worn or damaged button.  Another reason for a crown could be to conceal a button doubling when the button was not repaired by Jacob's invisible method.

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3 hours ago, Delabo said:

Yes, I saw your excellent post some months back on invisibly grafting a button. I just wondered why so many ebony crowns were put on in the past when the main problem seems to have been a detached button. Or were they put on because of wear ?

Unfortunately the main problem was not always a detached button.  Neck resets were not always done ethically,  and sometimes the original buttons were cut down or moved.

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5 hours ago, Delabo said:

Yes, I saw your excellent post some months back on invisibly grafting a button. I just wondered why so many ebony crowns were put on in the past when the main problem seems to have been a detached button. Or were they put on because of wear ?

Sometimes crowns are used to help fool the eye for grafted buttons, meaning a fully replaced button and not patched as Jacob is describing.  This also seems to be loosing favor.  A lot of crowns are put on these days to brand new instruments just because people like the look. 

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On 3/16/2019 at 11:38 AM, jacobsaunders said:

I will do my best. The first step is to do nothing at all, until the insurance has agreed to pay me for it, so a little patience please.

 

 

The aim of the repair will be to get everything back right there, where it was before, so that a “crown” would have no useful purpose

 

Post some pictures of it after you've repaired it, Jacob? I'd love to see the 'before' and 'after' shots.  :) 

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On ‎3‎/‎16‎/‎2019 at 1:19 PM, mendicus said:

It would be nice if you post some pictures of interior of viola once it will be opened.

A short description of the inside of the viola for those who might be interested:

The viola is in very good, near mint condition. The back has a parchment strip, reinforcing the back joint. The upper treble rib has a couple of cracks reinforced with pine patches, and there is one belly crack with a cleat. Otherwise I can find no repair issues at all. Having the back off, will give us the possibility, to have a long argument about the date on the label. The corner blocks are, in the plan view, right angled (well sort of) triangles, the block to glue area to the lower/upper bout roughly twice as long as the block to middle bought glue area. The rib end joint is a mitre. This is fairly obviously made around an inside mould, although Bellosio didn’t let his deep (ca. 10mm) pine linings into the blocks at all. The most impressive thing about the viola, apart from everything else, is in my humble opinion the arching, but it has proved hardly possible to document this with photographs

 

There is an, in many respects, almost identical Bellosio instrument illustrated on pages 200 to 205 in the book “Les Violons” from the symposium in Paris 1995.

 

I have made a sketch of the plate thicknesses (at the bottom of this post) and hope you can read my handwriting! The ribs vary from 1mm thick in some places, up to about 1,4mm in others.

 

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Thank you for very nice pictures.Interesting (at least to me) that back thickness isn't much more than top. 

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1 hour ago, mendicus said:

Interesting (at least to me) that back thickness isn't much more than top. 

I think it need not be a surprise. I don’t keep a statistic, but many, if not most old violins (certainly the ones from our part of the world) have similar back and belly thicknesses, typically about 3,5mm in the middle and 2 or 2,5ish mm around the edges

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Thank you very much for this detailled and very interesting informations! Looking at the very clean neck root, upper block glueing surface and the break line I'm wondering if there was much glue at all holding the neck except at the (possibly pre-damaged) button, so that it didn't need much force to break it out.

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20 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

I think it need not be a surprise. I don’t keep a statistic, but many, if not most old violins (certainly the ones from our part of the world) have similar back and belly thicknesses, typically about 3,5mm in the middle and 2 or 2,5ish mm around the edges

The excellent book on Geissenhof illustrates this point. 

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11 hours ago, Blank face said:

Thank you very much for this detailled and very interesting informations! Looking at the very clean neck root, upper block glueing surface and the break line I'm wondering if there was much glue at all holding the neck except at the (possibly pre-damaged) button, so that it didn't need much force to break it out.

I don’t really concur with your diagnosis. The neck and the top block are not by Bellosio, but from me, about 15 or so years ago. The neck root and the neck mortice are, if I say so myself, a hermetically perfect fit, as they should be. Should one spend ones life repairing old violins where every joint seems to have a lot of “Glue Room” and pints of old congealed glue, this might look unusual.

 

I would search for the causal reason for this damage in Bellosio’s interesting, if cavalier attitude to purfling. I have always envied colleagues who can tell what species of wood the whites of a purfling are, since this is not a talent of mine. The white is however a rather soft spongy wood, which is easily squashed. The purfling channel, all around is quickly cut, with little concern for accuracy. It seem that the purfling was squashed into narrow parts of the purfling channel, and the wider parts of the purfling channel were filled with purfling, as it swelled up with the glue. The purfling channel by the button is pretty deep, the purfling itself at that point however rather shallow, leaving a cavernous “Glue Room” between the underside of the purfling and the bottom of the purfling channel. This surely amounts to a “sollbruchstelle” or kind of predetermined breaking point. From a structural point of view, I think it would be more sense, not to purfle violins beneath the button, like some Guadagnin’s (or Leidolf’s or Petz’s).

 

On the other hand, I have noticed over the many years, that whenever someone rings late at night in tears, that there cello has fallen over at some remote railway station, that one of 4 different damages occur: Either the fingerboard drops of, the neck breaks out, the bridge breaks or it gets a sound post crack. Only one of these things seems to happen, not a combination, as if something is destined to take the “shock”. Seen like that I suppose it might be my fault. If I had not glued the fingerboard on so conscientiously, perhaps that might have dropped off, and saved the button?

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6 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

I don’t really concur with your diagnosis. The neck and the top block are not by Bellosio, but from me, about 15 or so years ago.

Ooopps - I should have known better<_<:wub:.

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Jacob

I really wish the Strad would commission you to create a technical drawing / poster of this instrument. From your photos it appears to be a very fine specimen! We don't need any more Strad posters based on Strads or GDG

Looking forward to your restoration notes. This is a really interesting thread. Thanks for sharing

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I once had a cellist calling me saying he had a problem with the neck of his cello because he dropped the instrument. The real problem was however that he had a concert the following day. 

So when he called I simply said 'Don't worry, I think I can fix it!' without having seen the damage. (Pretty risky statement to calm down a worried customer.)

In the end I spent one night in the workshop to reset the neck which became loose because some other maker had set it before very badly. When it was done at 1am or so I called my customer to make sure he sleeps well before his concert. However, I guess I slept better than he did. 

 

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