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TJ Fuss

Thank you + an introduction

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I'd like to offer my sincere appreciation for the long-time members and contributors here at Maestronet's Pegbox. I've been reviewing a ton of old posts while seeking information and tips to develop my instrument repair capabilities. So, having just joined, I hope to lurk less and eventually feel like I'll be able to contibute something useful. 


I guess I'd call myself an aspiring luthier. I've worked on dozens of guitars and basses plus clarinets, flutes, saxophones, keyboards and snare drums. Perhaps I have an attention deficit? Or, I just really like musical instruments. Yeah, I'll stick with that.


The Covid shutdown has been great for getting to work on my backlog of projects. Over the last few monthss, I've rebuilt several electric and acoustic guitars plus a pile of stereo equipment. Lately, I've been starting work on the dozen or so violins that I've rescued from flea markets and estate sales over the last 25 years. Anyway, I got my start working on violin family instruments after buying an upright bass at a flea market. It was (and remains) a rather sorry affair but I've been told that it's likely a mid-1800's German flat-back. It was so warm and humid the day I bought it that the sloppy, excess hide glue was gummy. I could hear it drying out on the long ride home - I had to have the defroster / AC on just to see out the windshield. I managed to get it into playable condition and used it occasionally at church. One Sunday, an old scrollbox repair let go and the vibration made it feel like the poor thing was going to explode in my hands! I took it to one of our local luthiers and he said to go ahead and try the repairs... that I couldn't make it any worse! I think I remembed him mentioning "firewood".


The old repair? The scroll / pegbox had broken off. It had been glued (thankfully, with hide glue) and screwed together with six large, steel wood screws. I tremoved the screws, took it all apart, cleaned out the old glue, and reinforced the break with fresh hide glue with tapered boxwood dowels in place of the screws. I also replaced the old tuning pegs with turned ebony. The ones I replaced looked as if they'd been whittled out with a jacknife. Twenty-some years later, it's still together and solid. Someday, I'll get to the rest of the repairs but I'm having too much fun with my NS Design CR4M electric upright bass. I'm also getting started with cello - a cheap Cecilio acoustic (which I've improved a bit with a new ebony nut, new bridge and better strings) and a Yamaha silent cello.


If I get this right... here are shots of my repairs (warning: it's not pretty but it's functional)






Edited by TJ Fuss

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In the years since that beginning, I have been working to improve the aesthetic quality of my repairs. It's not a violin, but here's one of my recently completed projects. It's a 1940 Epiphone Zephyr that came to me in near basket-case condition. After it sat in my basement for around 20 years, I finally felt capable of doing the rebuild well enough. I had to fabricate some of the parts (replacements are almost impossible to find): pickguard, pickup cover (now nickel plated over the brass shown), control knob plates and the odd back plate cover.


Thanks for looking. Later, I'll post a couple of my current violin projects (along with some questions, of course).




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