Joe Swenson

How would you address this neck repair?

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Wife found this lovely Jacob Stainer copy - made in Czeckoslovakia (c.1920's) at an antique shop in the  valley on the weekend.  She texted me the  photos and saw the neck might need to be reglued but everything else looked good. SO the $20 price tag seemed a steal. When she got it home I saw the neck was more than just a reglue job.  Root cause is a broken button.  Also a small crack in the  top which was separated from the ribs.  But all the corners are in tact and the reest of the body is solid. The Maple is beautiful!  Nice highly flamed single piece back!

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This is the second single piece back violin I bought with a broken button.  I'm already familiar with button repair.  Is this a problem with single piece backs? 

Its astounding how much someone felt they needed to countersink the hole for the wood screw that they used to try and reattach the neck to the violin!  How would you approach repairing this blasphemy?  Simply try to fill the hole as best you can with like maple? 

Thanks,
Joe

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I wonder if cutting the neck foot just over the hole and joining a piece of similar wood would be acceptable and maybe simpler to hide. Classical guitar necks are made by stacking several pieces of cedrela or mahogany to form the foot.

 

 

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A neck graft would be preferable but its a cheap fiddle so why not try something different? Its end grain so maybe just drill the hole clean and insert a similar maple dowel to fill the void. Reshape and varnish as needed.

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3 hours ago, Giovanni Corazzol said:

I wonder if cutting the neck foot just over the hole and joining a piece of similar wood would be acceptable and maybe simpler to hide. Classical guitar necks are made by stacking several pieces of cedrela or mahogany to form the foot.

 

 

Just glueing on a piece replacing the hole with new wood is only doable if the whole is reinforced by a feather on the other side making sure that the joint doesn't crack open under the forces at the neck heel. Otherwise certainly what I would do for avoiding a graft.

For the button: clean the dirt push it back and reinforce from the inside either with a tiny patch or a 2mm maple glued on top and anchored in the top block.

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That's a bit of a tough one! Because of the broken button, you're going to have to remove the upper block, loosen the back from the ribs, put in a patch (and make a cast for it) to repair the button. For the neck, as has been suggested, you could fill the holes with maple plugs, shape, and try to do a camo retouch job. If you're paying yourself by the hour, and planning on selling it, it's not worth it. If it's more of a hobby/personal challenge thing, have fun with it.

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4 hours ago, Giovanni Corazzol said:

I wonder if cutting the neck foot just over the hole and joining a piece of similar wood would be acceptable and maybe simpler to hide. Classical guitar necks are made by stacking several pieces of cedrela or mahogany to form the foot.

I think that would be quite viable, as long as it's a high-quality joint, and as long as a moisture-resistant coating is maintained over the joint.

But here's another idea: Drill out the smaller part of the hole so a cello peg reamer can be inserted. Clean up the hole with the reamer, and use a peg shaper to form a dowel from semi-matching wood.  This would require supporting structures on both the sides and the bottom, since the walls are already quite thin, and will become more-so with clean-up reaming. But it also has advantages

One would be that  there is a much larger gluing surface area, compared to a butt joint.

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5 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

 

But here's another idea: Drill out the smaller part of the hole so a cello peg reamer can be inserted. Clean up the hole with the reamer, and use a peg shaper to form a dowel from semi-matching wood. 

Trouble is, you could use a Cello reamer from below, and have nothing left at the sides, but not from above, 'cos the scroll would be in the way

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57 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

Trouble is, you could use a Cello reamer from below, and have nothing left at the sides, but not from above, 'cos the scroll would be in the way

Since the reamer would be used to clean up a very crude hole, why couldn't the reamer angle be oriented well below the scroll?

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23 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Since the reamer would be used to clean up a very crude hole, why couldn't the reamer angle be oriented well below the scroll?

We are not understanding eachother, possibly my fault:

A reamer has a thick end and a thin end. Here, one would only be able to ream  with the thick end of the reamer at the top block side of the neck root, because the other way around the scroll would be in the way. Since the wide end of the counter sunk hole is on top of the neck root, one would have almost nothing left once one had finished reaming. One would be left saying "sod it" and grafting it after all.

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Since it's apparently an example of " the usual rubbish" and of little value....

If it were mine I might be tempted to buy an "in the white" pre-carved neck from IV, save the the fingerboard, nut, pegs.

Repair and patch the button break.

Fit and varnish [for the best match I could manage] the new neck

I imagine it wouldn't decrease or increase the "value" [$20.00] of the instrument.

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2 hours ago, Michael Jennings said:

 

I imagine it wouldn't decrease or increase the "value" [$20.00] of the instrument.

an example of the instruments that music students in my area often buy from teachers for about 100x that value

Edited by Giovanni Corazzol
miscalculated!

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I'd say do a neck graft. I dont think any repair on this fiddle is economical, but it seems like you have a soft spot for it and want to see it playing again. Its not a sin.  

Of course if you are in the violin trade it would be a very poor business decision, but you probably wouldnt have posted this if that were the case. 

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2 hours ago, David Burgess said:

I think that would be quite viable, as long as it's a high-quality joint, and as long as a moisture-resistant coating is maintained over the joint.

 

I see that; the joint would be in an area constantly affected by perspiration. What about using a waterproof glue (liquid epoxy)for the joint? Would it show any creep over time?

@Andreas Preusswhat do you mean by "feather"? Is that a piece of wood inserted in a slot on the back side of the neck, grain at right angles? Would be OK to install a maple or carbon fiber dowel in the neck foot (pinning)?

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1 hour ago, Michael Jennings said:

If it were mine I might be tempted to buy an "in the white" pre-carved neck from IV

There should be some "original" Schönbach finished necks in every shop's junk box already.<_<

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Just grab a spare neck from the rubbish heap that has a neck root slightly bigger and matches more or less. Then you just need to worry about the button. 

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4 minutes ago, MarkBouquet said:

Is the flaming on that "Nice, highly flamed single piece back" faked? It kind of looks like it.

Looks fake to me too.

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12 hours ago, Mampara said:

A neck graft would be preferable but its a cheap fiddle so why not try something different? Its end grain so maybe just drill the hole clean and insert a similar maple dowel to fill the void. Reshape and varnish as needed.

 

8 hours ago, David Burgess said:

I think that would be quite viable, as long as it's a high-quality joint, and as long as a moisture-resistant coating is maintained over the joint.

But here's another idea: Drill out the smaller part of the hole so a cello peg reamer can be inserted. Clean up the hole with the reamer, and use a peg shaper to form a dowel from semi-matching wood.  This would require supporting structures on both the sides and the bottom, since the walls are already quite thin, and will become more-so with clean-up reaming. But it also has advantages

One would be that  there is a much larger gluing surface area, compared to a butt joint.

 

8 hours ago, FiddleDoug said:

That's a bit of a tough one! Because of the broken button, you're going to have to remove the upper block, loosen the back from the ribs, put in a patch (and make a cast for it) to repair the button. For the neck, as has been suggested, you could fill the holes with maple plugs, shape, and try to do a camo retouch job. If you're paying yourself by the hour, and planning on selling it, it's not worth it. If it's more of a hobby/personal challenge thing, have fun with it.

It's always about me learning to do things better. Not worried about the time it takes me to do a repair. Expense yes...  but I'm retired now and working for myself so my time is "free".

I just sold a similar vintage Stainer with a much less flamed 2-piece back at my wife's antique store last week and they're coming back for another one next week. I have a similar vintage Czeck Vuillaume copy ready for them. Paid $35 for at a flea market.  Regraduated the top. It's quite nice now. A Mariachi band apparently is looking for instuments.  

I like the idea of reaming out the hole and filling it. Not sure the peg reamer has a big enough diameter.  The varnish is so dark you can't see any flaming in the area so it should be fairly easy to blend in a piece of plain maple.

BTW.. The flames are real. Really nice!.

898270067_20200213_1457501.thumb.jpg.1ef3b1ce339f55e010c66c75781610f2.jpg

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... its nice wood. 

Fixing the button will be more of a chore separating the back. Will give it a go anyway. Some student will love this instrument.  ;)

Thanks all for the feedback!

Cheers,
Joe

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10 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

 

We are not understanding eachother, possibly my fault:

A reamer has a thick end and a thin end. Here, one would only be able to ream  with the thick end of the reamer at the top block side of the neck root, because the other way around the scroll would be in the way. Since the wide end of the counter sunk hole is on top of the neck root, one would have almost nothing left once one had finished reaming. One would be left saying "sod it" and grafting it after all.

Estimating the size of the hole from the photo, I'd expect to be able to insert the reamer from the scroll side, and turn it with a wrench with the handle removed.

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23 hours ago, Giovanni Corazzol said:

I see that; the joint would be in an area constantly affected by perspiration. What about using a waterproof glue (liquid epoxy)for the joint? Would it show any creep over time?

@Andreas Preusswhat do you mean by "feather"? Is that a piece of wood inserted in a slot on the back side of the neck, grain at right angles? Would be OK to install a maple or carbon fiber dowel in the neck foot (pinning)?

Yes that's what I meant. Dowels usually don't hold.

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I would glue a (temporary) piece of maple to the bottom of the heel to prevent splitting out the wood that would end up very fragile and drill/ream the hole and glue the tapered dowel with carefully aligned grain. That would be quite fast and reliable way to repair the damage (and economical for the value of the violin). You can graft a new neck any time in the future....

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10 hours ago, HoGo said:

I would glue a (temporary) piece of maple to the bottom of the heel to prevent splitting out the wood that would end up very fragile and drill/ream the hole and glue the tapered dowel with carefully aligned grain. That would be quite fast and reliable way to repair the damage (and economical for the value of the violin). You can graft a new neck any time in the future....

That's the plan! Thanks!

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