Is it repairable?


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1 hour ago, Contra Bassist said:

As a wood conservationist, I have found that using conservation techniques plus a few tricks of my own, it is quite possible to return even basket case instruments to a playable condition. I'm currently engaged in a 10 year project to restore a 1776 Tomaso Carcassi violin back to its original playing condition. When it arrived it was almost too fragile to touch and each individusl piece had to be treated and its integrity restored. 8 years into the project and we have been able to fit all the bits of the spruce top back together and remove all the cleats. The glues are a special mix of wood and other natural resins and water. 

Anyone that recommends titebond glue for a cello is not qualified to be working on violins, period

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Much depends on your hourly rate. Jacob works on high level instrument in "expensive" part of world so even being paid the walk to the bin at the corner of street would not be worth it, but in some cases alternative methods (performed by some "middle class" luthiers) could work both financially and structurally even with some low end instruments.

I've just watched environmental film about fast fashion and how it all ends in a landfill which is the main problem of just throwing things away, and that many things could be easily repaired and reworked etc .

I have some wrecked instruments in my shop (mandolins) that don't seem to be worth dong anything but perhaps I will have some timeon my hands while the glue heats and will find some optimal solution how to fix without breaking the bank.

This cello seem to be relatively easy fix for average woodworker. Just clean all the surfaces from splinters (most splinters I can see are the two layers of veneer separated from heel button) and old glue without touching any original wood. I would add a flat piece of soilid wood on the heel button (after cleaning the surface flat) to bridge the break (and perhaps insert it somehow a bit under the block) and refit the neck back in place (truing all gluing surfaces)  and glue with hot hide glue (or epoxy if I would consider the surfaces not good for HHG). In this case I believe  the parts would mate well anough for HHG. I would of course repair the splits in the sides (I would be tempted using CA glue for these - for it's quickness - apply few drops from the inside of neck cutout and press back for a minute or so, I would consider CA glue for the button patch as well so I could finish the whole job wothout waiting for glue to dry).

I believe I could do this whole (without any further setup steps - bridge etc.) in 1 and half hour, perhaps even faster If nothing unpredictable arised. My hourly rate (Slovakia) is vastly different from colleagues in the US so here this would be certainly job worth the expense.

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28 minutes ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

Anyone that recommends titebond glue for a cello is not qualified to be working on violins, period

Yes, Titebond has quite a history showing how it can creep under constant load. It can be OK for some other joints (after serious thinking why) but violin family necks require solid glue without creep.

For dead museum pieces that are hang behind glass without tension of strings this may be OK, but I would still wonder why.

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1 hour ago, HoGo said:

Much depends on your hourly rate. Jacob works on high level instrument in "expensive" part of world so even being paid the walk to the bin at the corner of street would not be worth it, but in some cases alternative methods (performed by some "middle class" luthiers) could work both financially and structurally even with some low end instruments.

I've just watched environmental film about fast fashion and how it all ends in a landfill which is the main problem of just throwing things away, and that many things could be easily repaired and reworked etc .

I have some wrecked instruments in my shop (mandolins) that don't seem to be worth dong anything but perhaps I will have some timeon my hands while the glue heats and will find some optimal solution how to fix without breaking the bank.

This cello seem to be relatively easy fix for average woodworker. Just clean all the surfaces from splinters (most splinters I can see are the two layers of veneer separated from heel button) and old glue without touching any original wood. I would add a flat piece of soilid wood on the heel button (after cleaning the surface flat) to bridge the break (and perhaps insert it somehow a bit under the block) and refit the neck back in place (truing all gluing surfaces)  and glue with hot hide glue (or epoxy if I would consider the surfaces not good for HHG). In this case I believe  the parts would mate well anough for HHG. I would of course repair the splits in the sides (I would be tempted using CA glue for these - for it's quickness - apply few drops from the inside of neck cutout and press back for a minute or so, I would consider CA glue for the button patch as well so I could finish the whole job wothout waiting for glue to dry).

I believe I could do this whole (without any further setup steps - bridge etc.) in 1 and half hour, perhaps even faster If nothing unpredictable arised. My hourly rate (Slovakia) is vastly different from colleagues in the US so here this would be certainly job worth the expense.

The Slovakian customers who, bless their hearts, make it to here (not far) are no less fastidious than their Viennese colleagues, also the one and a half hours estimate seems to me to be like the fish that got away. The sober fact is that a smashed in plywood cello has no commercial value, still less probably if it has been bodged back together. Therefore any work on it is for the birds, and the expenditure on your 1,5 hours, or much more, would have been far better invested contributing towards a new intact school cello, even an inexpensive one

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On 12/19/2020 at 7:37 AM, jacobsaunders said:

Everything “is repairable”.

So true, Jacob. What I have found lately though is that what I would take on in my mid 20's/30's when I thought nothing was impossible to fix has now become " I don't have  time to waste on another project that will just sit on a shelf"

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I agree with you. There are precious few violin restorers here worth visiting with higher quality instrument so everyone who cares more is going to Czech Republic or Austria where the violin making tradition is generally at another level and the better ones are at the top of the game.

There are  luthiers around here though, who work at OK level for school violins and would be capable of putting this together into fairly playable condition certainly for less than 100 Euro. And by this I don't mean botched screw on job just not as aesthetically complex restoration but still fully functional and will hold for years till the next kid smashes it apart once again. I know some gypsy fiddle luthiers who would without warning use finishing nails to attach back to a bass! They would really be champions in botching instruments.

I personally would not take the job as I have enough of my own work but could send the owner to someone else who would fix it  at apropriate level (and price).

If you compare job like this to car repairs the insurance companies will pay for the repairs if they won't exceed estimated value of the car (at least here) otherwise they will pay you the difference between the wreck value and similar car. Few years ago rear of my old rather ordinary car (no, not a Yugo :-)) got smashed and insurance paid for total loss some 1400 EUR cash. The cost of repairs at authorised service would easily exceed 4000, but I was able to get it back to working for 390EUR using spare parts from junkyard even matching the original factory color that I found and some decent paintless metal work of local garage. You couldn't see it was repaired from outside (other than new rear lid had TDI on it while my was a gas model :-)

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I still think the best solution is "it depends":

I'd attempt a quick "botch" job if the end result is a cello a beginner can still use to learn fingering and basic bowing on...or to have as a spare in a school program in the event a better cello gets smashed during rehearsal.

Economics:

Current cello value (if playable): $250

Glue and screw: $2

Time for repair (let's be generous): 30 minutes @ $50/hr = $25

Total input = $27

Cost of an equivalent new/used cello = $750

Is $27 and 30 minutes worth the effort?

If not, then no. Firewood.

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29 minutes ago, Rue said:

I still think the best solution is "it depends":

I'd attempt a quick "botch" job if the end result is a cello a beginner can still use to learn fingering and basic bowing on...or to have as a spare in a school program in the event a better cello gets smashed during rehearsal.

Economics:

Current cello value (if playable): $250

Glue and screw: $2

Time for repair (let's be generous): 30 minutes @ $50/hr = $25

Total input = $27

Cost of an equivalent new/used cello = $750

Is $27 and 30 minutes worth the effort?

If not, then no. Firewood.

Your mental gymnastics negate the fact that a smashed or botched plywood cello has a commercial value of nil, so it is a bit like digging a big hole in your garden, then filling it up again. You are also denying the student of the opportunity to play on an intact cello, which the funds used for the botch could have been used towards

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Well yes...the commercial resale value would be nil. Totally agree.

But - if it's being repaired to be used (especially in low-budget situations) versus being sold (not the reason for the repair) why not try?

If the 'botch repair' doesn't work...then toss it.

BTW...have you ever seen the condition of some school program instruments? It's rather horrifying. It often does come down to a scenario of "anything is better than nothing".

How do I know? I started with a school loaner violin. Not a good one...but I still learned on it. If I hadn't had that opportunity - I wouldn't have been able to learn any instrument.

I also had 3 kids in school band programs. While most kids had rental instruments (not loaners) still...the instruments were low end and abused in a classroom situation. Just given the nature of school programs and the negligence inherent in teenagers I couldn't justify spending more on the instruments.

You wouldn't believe how many trumpets are used as percussion tools...:wacko:

(I opted to buy "better" used instruments versus renting and it worked out for us, but I was also interested and put in the time. Most parents couldn't be bothered). 

The scenario of having good quality instruments available for children to excel on is beautiful. But I think that only happens relatively infrequently - and only in areas of affluence.

 

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^You're lucky if there's a school music program at all .  Wouldn't hurt to try to popularize it as a way to go to college for free.  Hard to get on the football team, but easy to get in the marching band.

~~

The op instrument, I'd use it as an opportunity.  Either to use the money you saved on repairs as starter money for a better instrument, or if you were going to fix it yourself, a starting point to think about a new instrument.  If you decide to just fix it yourself, nothing has improved.  Maybe has gotten worse in fact.

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37 minutes ago, Rue said:

Well yes...the commercial resale value would be nil. Totally agree.

But - if it's being repaired to be used (especially in low-budget situations) versus being sold (not the reason for the repair) why not try?

If the 'botch repair' doesn't work...then toss it.

BTW...have you ever seen the condition of some school program instruments? It's rather horrifying. It often does come down to a scenario of "anything is better than nothing".

How do I know? I started with a school loaner violin. Not a good one...but I still learned on it. If I hadn't had that opportunity - I wouldn't have been able to learn any instrument.

I also had 3 kids in school band programs. While most kids had rental instruments (not loaners) still...the instruments were low end and abused in a classroom situation. Just given the nature of school programs and the negligence inherent in teenagers I couldn't justify spending more on the instruments.

You wouldn't believe how many trumpets are used as percussion tools...:wacko:

(I opted to buy "better" used instruments versus renting and it worked out for us, but I was also interested and put in the time. Most parents couldn't be bothered). 

The scenario of having good quality instruments available for children to excel on is beautiful. But I think that only happens relatively infrequently - and only in areas of affluence.

 

In the elementary school where I started music, we had good solid old German instruments, Phretschners, I think, or solid wood Scherl & Roth, reasonable instruments that would sell for $2500-3500 in this area today. But those instruments had been at my school for a very long time, and when I visited the new middle school that I would be attending for 8th grade, the brand-new school instruments there were among the most appalling I’ve ever seen. Even at 13, I could tell how horrible they were. Each one was plywood, had an unfinished bridge, and each was green. And I’m not sure that the green finish was intended. Those were horrible instruments, and the director thought so too, so somehow, She was able to get real cellos for us.

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1 minute ago, PhilipKT said:

In the elementary school where I started music, we had good solid old German instruments, Phretschners, I think, or solid wood Scherl & Roth, reasonable instruments that would sell for $2500-3500 in this area today. But those instruments had been at my school for a very long time, and when I visited the new middle school that I would be attending for 8th grade, the brand-new school instruments there were among the most appalling I’ve ever seen. Even at 13, I could tell how horrible they were. Each one was plywood, had an unfinished bridge, and each was green. And I’m not sure that the green finish was intended. Those were horrible instruments, and the director thought so too, so somehow, She was able to get real cellos for us.

You can thank the Chinese for that. 

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What a great thread!

I wouldn't presume to speak for Brad Dorsey, but would like to note that he & I  both live in New England in USA. In this part of the world people tend to be very pragmatic, and also hate to see stuff go to waste. On the Maine island where I live, the guys at the dump always put the lawn mowers and promising broken furniture out at the front, so people can come & haul them off and fix them up.

Fixing up broken stuff and making it useful again is a big deal here. Of course, there's no point in fixing crap. But  the OP said the instrument -- plywood or not -- sounded good.

Would also like to thank Brad for documenting his repair technique (also everybody else who made useful observations). This is why Maestronet is so great: somebody 5 years from now will be facing the same  problem, read this thread, and salvage their not-very-valuable-but-important-anyway instrument.

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6 hours ago, Al Cramer said:

On the Maine island where I live, the guys at the dump always put the lawn mowers and promising broken furniture out at the front, so people can come & haul them off and fix them up.

 

That’s a good idea. The OP should leave his broken cello on the pavement (sidewalk?), see if it disappears and save himself the trip to the tip

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17 hours ago, Contra Bassist said:

You can thank the Chinese for that. 

I have learned a little bit about the procurement process in the school systems, and it is ridiculous. The end result is that a lot of money is spent on a lot of literally worthless crap. I remember when I was in high school my high school orchestra director was telling me that he insisted on real horse here when the school bows were rehaired. These were all W Seifert bows, not at all bad, and worth treating properly.

He was ignored and the bows, all of them, showed up with fiberglass hair. He took a pair of scissors and cut all the hair and sent the bows back for real hair.

Edited by PhilipKT
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43 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

...

He was ignored and the bows, all of them, showed up with fiberglass hair. He took a pair of scissors and cut all the hair and sent the bows back for real hair.

And how did he enjoy his new job? 

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1 hour ago, Rue said:

And how did he enjoy his new job? 

That made me laugh, at the time, my orchestra Director had been at the same school for 31 years, and he ran the show in the Dallas school district.

Weldon W Wendland. We called him World War III. He was able to get away with things that would get most people fired.

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10 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

Weldon W Wendland. We called him World War III. He was able to get away with things that would get most people fired.

Hmm, the music director in our high school was also named Wendland, and was known for smoking his pipe by the back door of the music room about 20 years after that sort of thing was allowed. That is a funny coincidence. 

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16 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

Wow. They must have been related.

In looking for info on Weldon Wendland I found a FB memorial page for Hillcrest High School where someone posted when he passed. The person who posted? David Burgess. But I don't know if it is THAT David Burgess, of MN fame and many other places. That would be really ironic. 

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