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Peg box repair on an oldish violin


waldguy
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I possess an older violin -- possibly a Ferdinando Gagliani (no label, very faint scratches on inside).  No certificate.  I've had it since 1995 or so.

The E-string pin finally stopped holding at all. Obviously some clumsy repairs were made in the past.  The grafted scroll has also given way at the bottom.

I'm wondering how you luthiers would approach the repair.  It may be ill-advised, but I may be open to geared tuners as part of the renew, along with carbon rods and spiral bushings. 

How would you tackle this?  Attached are pics.  Thanks in advance!

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Edited by waldguy
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From your pictures, apart from all the cracks between the pegholes, it looks like the neck graft is coming apart. There is an obvious gap at the base of the graft, and on the bass side, you can see a step too!
It could be that the sides are now splitting because they are taking all the load, and cracking further. The scroll may be about to fly off, if you do not get it repaired asap.

Your violin looks nothing at all like any Gagliano I have seen, but that's beside the point when discussing what appear to be urgently needed repairs to prevent a much worse problem.

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Yes, thanks. I commented that the scroll needs attention.  Violin is being shelved for the present and not being played.

The crack that runs further on the bass side was repaired in the past; it is holding when I flex the scroll lightly - no gap. 

So, sigh, yes, the entire scroll graft and box does need attention.   Would working HHG into the cracks likely be sufficient or is a complete take down likely needed?

Further comments welcome.

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42 minutes ago, waldguy said:

Would working HHG into the cracks likely be sufficient or is a complete take down likely needed?

No, I think that you would need inside cheeking of the pegbox, the pegs re-bushed, and cosmetic issues addressed on the outside. 

I would assume that the scroll graft would need to be separated, cleaned, and re-glued.

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6 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

No, I think that you would need inside cheeking of the pegbox, the pegs re-bushed, and cosmetic issues addressed on the outside. 

I would assume that the scroll graft would need to be separated, cleaned, and re-glued.

The neck needs sawing off, and a new graft making, after the cracks/bushings have been done. First thing would be to find out what it is (not gagliano), and thus if it's worth it

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 11/11/2021 at 2:42 PM, jacobsaunders said:

The neck needs sawing off, and a new graft making, after the cracks/bushings have been done.

Thanks for your guidance.  The violin is not worth paying a luthier to do this.  I am going to try this myself as I do have good tools and some experience with instruments.

I think I will not try to save the scroll end, as I don't believe it was original anyway.  Is the fix a matter of cutting off the grafted scroll, cleaning up the neck end, then cutting a new scroll/peg box to fit?  Do I need to separate the neck from the body?

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20 hours ago, waldguy said:

I think I will not try to save the scroll end, as I don't believe it was original anyway.  Is the fix a matter of cutting off the grafted scroll, cleaning up the neck end, then cutting a new scroll/peg box to fit?  Do I need to separate the neck from the body?

Then why not just buy a pre-manufactured neck and fit that?

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22 hours ago, waldguy said:

1.  I think I will not try to save the scroll end, as I don't believe it was original anyway. 

2.  Is the fix a matter of cutting off the grafted scroll, cleaning up the neck end, then cutting a new scroll/peg box to fit? 

3.  Do I need to separate the neck from the body?

1.  See about learning bushing and crack repair first.  Crack repair has me somewhat confused.

2.  Determined if there is the one piece neck block/neck handle or is there a maple neck glued to a spruce neck block pocket/mortice - two separate species of wood. 

3.  If a maple neck only, which means a spruce neck block, remove the fingerboard and nut, cut off the pegbox so that the chin is still part of the pegbox.  Then cutting real close to the plate edges without hitting them saw down to right above the button and then cut inwards from above the button to complete the neck handle removal.  

Your newly made neck blank should be around 7 1/4" - it's a figure I got from an old book so I'm not really sure about the new length.

  A few pros here may be able to help you out but in my own opinion if you haven't ever made a violin neck from scratch then simply shelve the project for another time or buy a new neck like GeorgeH. mentioned.

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13 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

Then why not just buy a pre-manufactured neck and fit that?

I'm strongly considering it. 

Uncle Duke raised the question about whether it might be a through neck.  I expect it is a standard spruce block based on the pic below.  It would likely be a much easier job than grafting the peg box in.  I am concerned about fitting the smallish tapered button though (see pics in this thread).

666470644_Violinsoundpost.thumb.jpg.80e99ee4366cf92ef3377601050a9b50.jpg

I may attempt making a neck from a blank if I get the inspiration -- after taking a whirl on a practice piece first, of course.
 

The graft is a little scary because of the four surfaces that must mate perfectly. 

I think the only way to address those cracks is with inside cheeks with grain running vertically.  I would be ultra pleased if I could come close to the photo below.

Graft.jpg.424f39b3d386088a4d2a04fc2f9affe2.jpg

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18 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

It is by no means unique, and the remedy for a neck graft that is coming out, is to bin it, and make a new one

My sincere thanks all for your guidance.  Jacob, by "bin it" do you mean just the peg box and scroll, or the neck as a whole?IMG_20211201_101536.thumb.jpg.dde5d01baba50ebc570089cea2ebacc4.jpg

Note that a prior fix for the neck crack which still holds is a small pin drilled into the peg box side. 

Unfortunately, the thinner part of the graft lacked strength to hold the peg pressure.

I also contemplated adding a couple of graphite pins to the underside of the peg box angling into the neck, but that would just be yet another patch.  This peg box / scroll is weak and probably not worth saving as it is not likely original.

 

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2 hours ago, Brad Dorsey said:

The usual type of graft has three mating surfaces.

Yes, good point.  I was mistaken, it's likely that the bottom is really only one surface, not two angles (hopefully).

I'm also realizing those those three surfaces need to make nearly perfect angles in vertical and horizontal dimensions and also in the length measurement.  Fortunately, there's no rush!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, I did get some inspiration with a 20 year old piece of maple, so I fashioned something resembling a scroll end.  A little more work to do, but 80% done that part anyway.  Maybe I should have used flamed.

I filled the old holes in the neck end with plugs instead of a tapered peg to orient the grain similar (but offset some) to the original neck, thinking it may improve adhesion.  It also gave me a chance to fit the holes which were somewhat oblong due to the bushing holes.  They won't turn with a peg inserted I'm sure.

I am getting close to ready to mortise out the peg box.  I would treasure any tips you all could provide.

The width of the inside neck V at the bottom is 12.7mm; 13mm at the top.  The width at the thickest part is 4.5 mm, making an exterior width at the bottom about 22.5 mm.

I left quite a lot of wood on the blank to make the sides thicker -- shooting for about 7 mm at the bottom with the cheek (5mm at the top).  Chime in on that if you see a red flag.

Those cuts on the blank will be critical.  Any tips or ideas on making them?  Focus on sides first then bottom.  Fit from top to bottom as the top is wider?  I see chisels and files in my future.

Finally, I'm looking at ordering some 315 gram strength hide glue for the glue up.

1490493761_graft2.thumb.JPG.bc78b5e3e500be3838a5956e3200278f.JPG

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1 hour ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

You did it ass backwards, you're supposed to save the scroll and replace the neck!

IF you looked at the pictures above, you would see that the scroll was cracked, fixed, repaired, broken and now unusable.  I realize this is "backward" but I'm making an attempt to preserve what is preservable.

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I took apart the graft and I do have the pieces of the previous scroll.  It would just be difficult to piece it together, mend a place or two and strengthen it.  Maybe exterior cheeks would be possible, but optically a bit strange.  On closer look the old scroll is not made that well -- symmetry is lacking and the peg box walls are narrow.

Given that the scroll is considered a maker's signature, it's a shame to lose it.  However, it's unlikely the one on it is original.  In addition, the maker's name does not accompany this violin, so the preservation of that grafted scroll is perhaps of less value than normally.

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Personally I didn’t see anything pointing to an assumption the scroll might not be original. The „faults“ you mentioned are more or less typical for the origin and in accordance to the way the body was made, and both weren’t necessarily made by the same person anyway but by different hands in the same or different shops.

If you‘re thinking the actual scroll isn’t worth the effort of a repair (I don’t think so) it would make more sense to take another old Saxon scroll and fit it at a new neck than to make a brandnew scroll for the replacement neck you have found at the violin.

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16 minutes ago, Blank face said:

If you‘re thinking the actual scroll isn’t worth the effort of a repair (I don’t think so) it would make more sense to take another old Saxon scroll and fit it at a new neck than to make a brandnew scroll for the replacement neck you have found at the violin.

So I made the scroll using the old one as a model (mostly), and I have had a good learning experience with it. 

That's a good idea though.  I would love to just pick up an another old Saxon scroll somewhere, but around here I'm just not sure where to land one.  Any donations will be accepted :)

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