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Can I sand down a violin nut myself?


2blink
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So I purchased a Mendini MV 500 for my daughter; she starts violin lessons this friday.  the nut is a little too big on both sides; I want to sand it down; what's the easiest way?  Should I remove it and then sand it down?  or sand it down on the violin itself?  it is rough and scratchy; and basically annoys me to death..

 

Any and all suggestions welcome as I'm not a Luthier..  But I am also not going to take it to a Luthier because the work will cost more than the violin.  

 

Thank you!

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So I watched a few youtube videos; and looked through about 50 images.. and armed with an emory board stolen from my wife's nail clipping kit; and some painter's masking tape..  I proceeded to file the nut down until I can no longer feel it.  While I had the emory board; I went ahead and filed off what I can only assume to be left over unwiped glue between the fingerboard and the neck.  The neck usually remains unpainted; but there is some left over staining on it; so I buffed that out as well... and so I applaud what you guys do; it's not easy!  I wish I had better equipment; probably would have taken me a much shorter time... but now at least everything feels smooth...  The nut is not carved evenly; and the bridge string locations is visually slightly off to me.. oh well, I guess when you pay $200 for a case, 2 bows, a violin, 2 bridges, 2 sets of strings, and a tumer...  You expect some quality compromises..  

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14 hours ago, 2blink said:

  But I am also not going to take it to a Luthier because the work will cost more than the violin.  

Happiness along with not losing faith in my parents would be of the utmost importance.

What will you do when the tuning pegs decide to not work properly?  A luthier can help.  Nothing much worse than a daughter losing faith in dad/mom - been there before.

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3 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

Oh dear!  Sounds like you've caught the infection that's pervasive on this site (but at least, you haven't mentioned varnish, that's a symptom of the violent form :lol: ).  Welcome to MN!  :)

Uh oh, I'm in trouble then.

I'm part way into varnishing a violin for the first time right now. Relax, it's a poor, Maggini-stamped trade cheapie that was a real wreck. No one will miss it if it turns out poorly. :unsure:

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In defense of inexpensive violins...

If you don't know if a child has, or will develop, any real interest, this is a viable way to go.  It will suffice for learning how to hold the instrument, how to hold the bow, learn the string names, note names in first position, etc.

However - if the child has a genuine interest, a 'better' violin will be needed.  When?  Depends.  I'd aim for the 2nd year of lessons for a keen child.  Might be sooner for a child with aptitude...might be later for a child who needs more time...

Either way, can't hurt to start saving.  If it's not for a better violin, might be for a saxophone...^_^

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On 9/1/2020 at 7:06 PM, 2blink said:

Mendini MV 500

from what i've seen, sample size 3 in the past 2 months, you pay for looks- just in general bad setup- worst is nut and bridge being much too tall after that more or less playable- sound much better with dominants but what's the point-  surprisingly good peg fit though

much closer to being able to use straight off amazon are the stentor outfits, much more plain looking - sample size 4 in past 2 months - nut and bridge still high but close enough to workish 

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On 9/2/2020 at 5:44 PM, TJ Fuss said:

Uh oh, I'm in trouble then.

I'm part way into varnishing a violin for the first time right now. Relax, it's a poor, Maggini-stamped trade cheapie that was a real wreck. No one will miss it if it turns out poorly. :unsure:

Congratulation, you've learned how to devalue your violin by 50% through revarnishing it!!

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Half of nothing is still nothing.

Did you miss the part where I mentioned that it was a real wreck? Let me be a bit more specific:

It's a low-end dutzenarbeit - blockless, roughly carved top plate with integral bass bar, multiple cracks in the top and geared tuners with at least 15 extra holes in the pegbox cheeks. That precious original varnish was already molested - a THICK glop of almost tar-like varnish all over the thing, approaching almost 1/16" thick in places. The back is stamped "Maggini" but the imitation stops at the cheesy double purfling. I'd wager that no one here would even give it a second glance. The only thing that saved it from the bin (or fire-pit) was an ebony fingerboard and some rather nice wood under all of that glop.

On the other hand, I got to practice some top carving, replacing a bass bar and other repairs, gluing up the top and varnishing before I attempt to build one of my own from scratch. Pretty cheap tuition, no?

Edited by TJ Fuss
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The strings are hard to press compared to my $5000 violin; I know I know...  that goes without saying.

I think the nut is riding a bit high; let me take that back; I KNOW the nut is riding a bit high; and slightly uneven from feel; but I am unsure which part is uneven; just that my fingers are not happy playing some of the notes.  

Labor is cheap; skilled labor is expensive; and so while I filed and replace my own nut and bridge on my guitar; I don't really see me doing that on this violin since I don't know much about the measurements of the nut, and I'm sure I don't have equipment to do so..  

Let's say I go to a Luthier; ballpark it for me guys; how much to have a nut and bridge set for me by a Luthier?  Am I looking at more than the cost of the violin?

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15 hours ago, TJ Fuss said:

Half of nothing is still nothing.

Did you miss the part where I mentioned that it was a real wreck? Let me be a bit more specific:

It's a low-end dutzenarbeit - blockless, roughly carved top plate with integral bass bar, multiple cracks in the top and geared tuners with at least 15 extra holes in the pegbox cheeks. That precious original varnish was already molested - a THICK glop of almost tar-like varnish all over the thing, approaching almost 1/16" thick in places. The back is stamped "Maggini" but the imitation stops at the cheesy double purfling. I'd wager that no one here would even give it a second glance. The only thing that saved it from the bin (or fire-pit) was an ebony fingerboard and some rather nice wood under all of that glop.

On the other hand, I got to practice some top carving, replacing a bass bar and other repairs, gluing up the top and varnishing before I attempt to build one of my own from scratch. Pretty cheap tuition, no?

there's nothing inferior about a carved bass bar, its just a regional style you see it for 100s of years in cheap and expensive violins from that region.

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15 hours ago, TJ Fuss said:

Half of nothing is still nothing.

Did you miss the part where I mentioned that it was a real wreck? Let me be a bit more specific:

It's a low-end dutzenarbeit - blockless, roughly carved top plate with integral bass bar, multiple cracks in the top and geared tuners with at least 15 extra holes in the pegbox cheeks. That precious original varnish was already molested - a THICK glop of almost tar-like varnish all over the thing, approaching almost 1/16" thick in places. The back is stamped "Maggini" but the imitation stops at the cheesy double purfling. I'd wager that no one here would even give it a second glance. The only thing that saved it from the bin (or fire-pit) was an ebony fingerboard and some rather nice wood under all of that glop.

On the other hand, I got to practice some top carving, replacing a bass bar and other repairs, gluing up the top and varnishing before I attempt to build one of my own from scratch. Pretty cheap tuition, no?

Pictures and sound clip, pretty please?

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6 hours ago, 2blink said:

The strings are hard to press compared to my $5000 violin; I know I know...  that goes without saying.

I think the nut is riding a bit high; let me take that back; I KNOW the nut is riding a bit high; and slightly uneven from feel; but I am unsure which part is uneven; just that my fingers are not happy playing some of the notes.  

Labor is cheap; skilled labor is expensive; and so while I filed and replace my own nut and bridge on my guitar; I don't really see me doing that on this violin since I don't know much about the measurements of the nut, and I'm sure I don't have equipment to do so..  

Let's say I go to a Luthier; ballpark it for me guys; how much to have a nut and bridge set for me by a Luthier?  Am I looking at more than the cost of the violin?

Shouldn't be more than $200 I would think...but then again, how much is too much to spend on a $200 package violin...that might only be worth $100, or less, if it wasn't part of a package?

I think this can be a 'careful' DIY project.

Save the repair money and put it towards the future better instrument.

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16 minutes ago, Rue said:

Pictures and sound clip, pretty please?

That might be a bit too much of a thread-jacking. I'll start another when I've got some progress photos and then get it strung up. As for a clip, I'll have to rope in a friend... I don't play violin. I can handle bass and cello somewhat but I just can't seem to get my fat fingers to behave when twisted around as needed for violin!

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16 hours ago, 2blink said:

The strings are hard to press compared to my $5000 violin; I know I know...  that goes without saying.

I think the nut is riding a bit high; let me take that back; I KNOW the nut is riding a bit high; and slightly uneven from feel; but I am unsure which part is uneven; just that my fingers are not happy playing some of the notes.  

Labor is cheap; skilled labor is expensive; and so while I filed and replace my own nut and bridge on my guitar; I don't really see me doing that on this violin since I don't know much about the measurements of the nut, and I'm sure I don't have equipment to do so..  

Let's say I go to a Luthier; ballpark it for me guys; how much to have a nut and bridge set for me by a Luthier?  Am I looking at more than the cost of the violin?

Did you read and check the link in my previous post? You won't really know what needs to be done until you have a luthier look it over. He/she will check the nut, fingerboard, bridge, and soundpost. If everything is too high, they may be able to trim everything down to the proper heights. If the fingerboard happens to have a hump in it, it will have to be planed down before the strings can be lowered. If the soundpost is wrong, it may have to be reset, recut, or replaced. If the bridge needs to be replaced, you may be looking at more than the cost of the violin.

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On 9/3/2020 at 9:45 AM, Rue said:

In defense of inexpensive violins...

If you don't know if a child has, or will develop, any real interest, this is a viable way to go.  It will suffice for learning how to hold the instrument, how to hold the bow, learn the string names, note names in first position, etc.

However - if the child has a genuine interest, a 'better' violin will be needed.  When?  Depends.  I'd aim for the 2nd year of lessons for a keen child.  Might be sooner for a child with aptitude...might be later for a child who needs more time...

Either way, can't hurt to start saving.  If it's not for a better violin, might be for a saxophone...^_^

Problem is that the child will not know that the problems they are having are the instrument.  Very few young students blame the instrument.  The commonly just think to themselves......"Everyone else doesn't have that same problem, I must suck"....and then they loose interest.  I personally (and professionally) feel that the best way to get your child to loose interest is to give them an bad instrument.  Now, with an adult who has been informed of the inadequacies of their instrument, they will soon realize what they need to do, and blame the appropriate party (violin), and take the appropriate measure.  It's more important that a young student has a better playing instrument than a more experienced player.  I do understand not wanting to gamble $400 on a good student instrument, but that's what rentals (and rent to own) are for.  I liken this to my customers as teaching your teenager to drive on a car that has lousy brakes, a problematic clutch etc.  I can deal with this, but a beginner? Just my opinion.  I just hate the thought of kids quitting music uneccesarily.  This goes way beyond violins, cheap chinese woodwind instruments cause many to quit too.  I spent much of my youth as a woodwind tech and saw this constantly.  Also had (have) more parents bringing in horrible instruments to sell (due to their child quiting) than good ones.  Problem is, most parents don't know any better.

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On 9/5/2020 at 7:23 AM, FiddleDoug said:

Did you read and check the link in my previous post? You won't really know what needs to be done until you have a luthier look it over. He/she will check the nut, fingerboard, bridge, and soundpost. If everything is too high, they may be able to trim everything down to the proper heights. If the fingerboard happens to have a hump in it, it will have to be planed down before the strings can be lowered. If the soundpost is wrong, it may have to be reset, recut, or replaced. If the bridge needs to be replaced, you may be looking at more than the cost of the violin.

Yes!  I am going to find a luthier around me and have him redo the bridge and nut; and double check my sound post location...  The bridge is "warpy" (I think it's a word..)  And like I said; the action on it due to the nut is driving me crazy and I don't want my child to NOT want to learn violin or as said in the other post; to think they suck all the while it was the instrument..  I play a violin and I wouldn't want to play for any extended time on that violin; so why would my kid?  

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On 9/7/2020 at 12:54 PM, Jeff White said:

Problem is that the child will not know that the problems they are having are the instrument.  Very few young students blame the instrument.  The commonly just think to themselves......"Everyone else doesn't have that same problem, I must suck"....and then they loose interest.  I personally (and professionally) feel that the best way to get your child to loose interest is to give them an bad instrument.  Now, with an adult who has been informed of the inadequacies of their instrument, they will soon realize what they need to do, and blame the appropriate party (violin), and take the appropriate measure.  It's more important that a young student has a better playing instrument than a more experienced player.  I do understand not wanting to gamble $400 on a good student instrument, but that's what rentals (and rent to own) are for.  I liken this to my customers as teaching your teenager to drive on a car that has lousy brakes, a problematic clutch etc.  I can deal with this, but a beginner? Just my opinion.  I just hate the thought of kids quitting music uneccesarily.  This goes way beyond violins, cheap chinese woodwind instruments cause many to quit too.  I spent much of my youth as a woodwind tech and saw this constantly.  Also had (have) more parents bringing in horrible instruments to sell (due to their child quiting) than good ones.  Problem is, most parents don't know any better.

I agree!  So I'm gonna throw a bit more money to at least get the violin completely proper..  I wouldn't want to play on that instrument long; why would my already frustrated daughter?

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  • 3 weeks later...

So I did what y'all suggested and I took the violin into the Luthier and had them reshape the nut; and give me a new bridge; and also move the sound post to the proper place and it sounds 10x better!  They all looked at me like I was crazy for taking a fairly cheap violin in for CLA but night and day difference!

 

Thank you Luthiers!

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^In the long run you saved yourself money when her whole next violin might have really been a quest for a well set up violin, in addition to enjoying the benefits now.   You not only made that money but she may get some tuition wavier down the line for playing in school orchestra.  I don't know anything about the brand you bought, and I'm assuming it does everything it basically needs to if it's set up right.

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