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chrissweden

Repair advice needed for neck restoration on child's violin

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How would you luthiers go about repairing the neck on this1/4th French violin? Traditional way of adding extra maple, carving a new larger top block or perhaps simply gluing it all back? I have never done this repair on a child's violin and maybe simply gluing and retouching it will suffice because of the lower string tension on a smaller violin? The crack on the top is not a problem luckily it doesn't reach the soundpost area.

I will be donating the violin to our local music school once finished.

 

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13 hours ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

Check out the article from Triangle Strings on clavettes. That would be my recommendation for your violin (assuming the top block is solid). 

Of course TVB has it right here, this is a pretty textbook situation for a clavette and neck reset. 

https://indd.adobe.com/view/b2d11313-d418-496b-8e01-c8a6b11e9a02

Click on the lower right of this link and you can download the PDF.

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2 hours ago, Jerry Pasewicz said:

Of course TVB has it right here, this is a pretty textbook situation for a clavette and neck reset. 

https://indd.adobe.com/view/b2d11313-d418-496b-8e01-c8a6b11e9a02

Click on the lower right of this link and you can download the PDF.

Yes, we have been here before, haven’t we. There are two different approaches to repairing such a malady. Since it is only the back (button broken off) that is broken, one could conclude that one only has to repair the back. A sound-post crack style patch on the button, with the deepest point over the purfling, which was the weak point that broke, is an invisible repair that doesn’t even need any re-touching, where as the so called “clavette” dogma is a Victorian botch that to a certain extent will certainly deface the violin to a degree. It will also take longer to do. If you glue back the button onto the back and patch the button area, and glue the back back onto the ribs, there will be no necessity to “re-set” the neck. After all, if there was nothing wrong with the neck set, why “re-set it? You will only need to glue it back in. On a budget violin such as the OP one, the amount of time spent is a consideration, and why spend more time for a inferior result? Trying to sex up the outdated method with a meaningless French work seems demented.

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6 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

Yes, we have been here before, haven’t we. There are two different approaches to repairing such a malady. Since it is only the back (button broken off) that is broken, one could conclude that one only has to repair the back. A sound-post crack style patch on the button, with the deepest point over the purfling, which was the weak point that broke, is an invisible repair that doesn’t even need any re-touching, where as the so called “clavette” dogma is a Victorian botch that to a certain extent will certainly deface the violin to a degree. It will also take longer to do. If you glue back the button onto the back and patch the button area, and glue the back back onto the ribs, there will be no necessity to “re-set” the neck. After all, if there was nothing wrong with the neck set, why “re-set it? You will only need to glue it back in. On a budget violin such as the OP one, the amount of time spent is a consideration, and why spend more time for a inferior result? Trying to sex up the outdated method with a meaningless French work seems demented.

Yup, we have been here before.  The very fact that the neck came out in the first place means there was something wrong with the neck reset.  There really isn’t any serious disagreement here, the neck is not longer in...it came out....staying in is important....it needs to be reset.  It is pretty foolish to believe that a neck will stay put by just gluing it after it has already come out, especially with the only difference being a patch in the button which has only a fraction of the strength as the wood that broke in the first place.  Giving you the benefit of the doubt, I assume you mean something else when you write “no necessity to ‘re-set’” and “only need to glue it back in”, but who knows what goes on in your head.  Also, the button will always need to be retouched when it is cracked off.  There really isn’t any serious disagreement here either, as you have cracks....because the button “broke” off....so one will need to fill and retouch those cracks. I suppose in theory  you never have to do retouch.....if the standard of work is low enough.  Some of the other gibberish  about “sex up”, “meaningless French work” and “demented” I don’t really know what you are trying to say, but I am sure it makes sense to you on some level.  Ultimately, I guess it is up to the person doing the job and the quality of the work they wish to do.  I prefer necks stay in when reset, measurements are correct, and cracks are repaired to a professional level of competence.  Not meeting these requirements certainly could make the work quicker, but that is not what we do.....of course, that is my decision.

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There seems to be a long crack from the right side of the saddle, too, which could end up in a soundpost crack if not carefully serviced, if it isn't a soundpost crack yet. So there would be a need to take of top or bottom in any case.

I won't recommend doing this somebody trying it the first time either.

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If I have the top off, I will likely do a patch on the button, especially if there is any issue with the block. However, if it’s not necessary to remove the top, I think the clavette is an elegant solution, and it really doesn’t take that much time to complete.

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Clavettes can work although elegant they ain't  and require a fair amount of time when you add in making sure the block is glued properly to the rest of the fiddle and or resetting the neck. Also agree that the long lower bout top crack needs proper repair and reinforcement.

Although this looks like it was once a nice little violin it is still only quarter size and there are few if any kids at that stage of playing who need anything more than a violin which has normally proportioned measurements and a good set up. If I was trying to benefit a school I would offer a scholarship towards a rental rather than a fragile violin which they cannot afford to maintain. That way students can be given larger instruments as they grow and the maintenance will be done by the shop that owns the rentals. On the other hand if the goal is to learn to do these repairs have at it although I think you'll find working on smaller instruments more challenging than larger ones.

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We are talking about a child size violin that's going to be donated to a music school, not a Strad!! The most economical repair here is a clavette under the block to repair/reinforce the button, and a neck reset. As long as it's set up properly, the children that use it, their parents, and the music school won't mind that it's not done in the "proper" way.

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25 minutes ago, FiddleDoug said:

The most economical repair here is a clavette under the block to repair/reinforce the button, and a neck reset

I invite you to try the method I suggested yourself just once, and you will realise that it is not only invisible but quicker

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8 hours ago, nathan slobodkin said:

Clavettes can work although elegant they ain't  and require a fair amount of time when you add in making sure the block is glued properly to the rest of the fiddle and or resetting the neck.

Read the article linked above and you’ll see how it can be done elegantly.

Since the topic of school repairs has come up, I think it’s worth mentioning that I taught the school/rental  repair people at the shop how to do this very repair, and they’ve been using it on a good number of school repairs that have come in with broken buttons. It has saved a substantial amount of time and the repairs are invisible. It does require some skill, and proficiency in touchup to match the color of the neck heel will help to make it almost invisible. 

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39 minutes ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

Read the article linked above and you’ll see how it can be done elegantly.

Since the topic of school repairs has come up, I think it’s worth mentioning that I taught the school/rental  repair people at the shop how to do this very repair, and they’ve been using it on a good number of school repairs that have have come in with broken buttons. It has saved a substantial amount of time and the repairs are invisible. It does require some skill, and proficiency in touchup to match the color of the neck heel will help to make it almost invisible. 

This was a technique that Nathan and I both used at Jacques Francais for many reasons.  It is very effective, it can be done quickly with little drama, and looks very good.....as you have mentioned.  Another important consideration is that taking the backs off of nice old instruments of all nationalities can be fraught with risk.  Old backs can be very fragile and the grain can have a tendency to run when being opened, the heavy flame can also pull out creating a hole to the outside.  Now this does not always happen, but it can happen, and almost always with little or no warning.  Typically, when a clavette was not the preferred method due to other considerations such as rib shortening or grafts, the back would not be removed for safety sake, but the top would be taken off and the neck block carved away to get at the damaged area.  In the past a common patch would run across the damaged area completely giving maximum strength, although then a crown would need to be installed to hide the joint.  The type of patch that is being suggested here was also occasionally used, the downside being the strength was compromised due to the bathtub nature of the patch.  All of the methods have good aspects and shortcomings, but they are all in the quiver to be used appropriately.  The bottom line is ALWAYS how to do the best job possible ...(which ALWAYS means resetting the neck, fill and touch-up..see the reasoning above), and which technique is the safest for the instrument.  Backs are rarely removed because there can be problems, and when other methods can be utilized to put the instrument at less risk, than that is the responsible choice.

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1 hour ago, Jerry Pasewicz said:

 Another important consideration is that taking the backs off of nice old instruments of all nationalities can be fraught with risk.  Old backs can be very fragile and the grain can have a tendency to run when being opened, the heavy flame can also pull out creating a hole to the outside.  Now this does not always happen, but it can happen, and almost always with little or no warning.

Exactly!  I seem to attract broken buttons, the vast majority of them have been safer to go from the top down rather than to remove the back.  

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52 minutes ago, Jerry Lynn said:

Exactly!  I seem to attract broken buttons, the vast majority of them have been safer to go from the top down rather than to remove the back.  

This is the beauty of education, avoiding mistakes because someone else made it before you!  Also why we all do not have to smoke 2 packs a day to learn the danger.......although there is always that one guy that insists after smoking 40 years it isn’t an issue.......

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9 hours ago, Jerry Pasewicz said:

This is the beauty of education, avoiding mistakes because someone else made it before you!  

Since when have you ever been exposed to any education

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