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"Hopf" Violin Purchase


MaryS
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Hello everyone, I'm a newbie here. I currently work in a string shop and have been learning a few things here and there about restoration. I bought a project piece and I may be in over my head, but oh well. It was an eBay purchase.

 

If anyone could give me any pointers on items that would need done, other than the obvious cleanup, fingerboard, pegs, bridge, strings, chin rest, and tail piece. Probably some gluing of bouts and a sound post. I would really appreciate it! Also if anyone has any information on this "Hopf" violin itself. There were no pictures of the inside, so I do not have that information yet. 

 

Thank you! Pictures are attached.

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You fiddle is one of tens of thousands of cottage industry produced “German trade Instruments” from the end of the 19th.C in a state of disrepair. Various Markneukirchen wholesalers supplied such instruments for the American department stores (and elsewhere). I posted the wholesaler Pfretschner’s Hopf stamp recently 

https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/350198-hopf-violin-id/&do=findComment&comment=9531490

It seems from your keyhole type of pictures to be one with a so called “Through neck”, i.e. no top block, which seems to have come adrift, and had some handyman “repair” it with a wood screw. For someone who earns his/her living repairing violins, it would hardly be a commercial proposition

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As Jacob said, it’s  Markneukirchen area, cottage industry type violin, in quite rough shape. It’s not a Hopf! The through neck type construction can be a real problem if the neck angle is too low. It’s also quite likely to be very roughly carved on the inside of the top, with a very roughly carved integral bass bar. So, worst case, to do things really correctly, you might have to rebuild the whole upper block/neck root area, and do a neck set. Also, regraduate the top, and put in a new bass bar. A new fingerboard and pegs  as well. All in all, not trivial repairs.

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51 minutes ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

There's no way of knowing if the inside of the top is roughly carved or not based on the neck construction which is standard for earlier Markneukirchen and Klingenthal instruments. Regrauating is a fools errand with questionable effects, as a project violin you could do better though, these are commercial grade.

but it has Hofp stamped on it.

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4 hours ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

There's no way of knowing if the inside of the top is roughly carved or not based on the neck construction…

True.  But I’d say that it’s a near certainty that it is rough-hewn, assuming that it hasn’t already been regraduated, because every “Hopf” like this that I’ve seen has been crude on the inside.

 

3 hours ago, uncle duke said:

but it has Hofp stamped on it.

No, it is stamped “HOPF.”

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2 hours ago, Brad Dorsey said:

True.  But I’d say that it’s a near certainty that it is rough-hewn, assuming that it hasn’t already been regraduated, because every “Hopf” like this that I’ve seen has been crude on the inside.

 

No, it is stamped “HOPF.”

Rubbish, most of the Hopf stamped violins I have worked on are smoothly carved inside, you must be buying cheap junk!

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43 minutes ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

Rubbish, most of the Hopf stamped violins I have worked on are smoothly carved inside, you must be buying cheap junk!

Perhaps MaryS will get back to us and let us know the state of the inside. Brad has been at this for decades, and has seen thousands of instruments.

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Thank you guys for all of the info! I will definitely update as I progress on this! Thankfully it was a cheap eBay purchase, I wasn't looking for anything grand. 

I'm very interested to see what the inside looks like now. It should arrive around the 29 or 30 of this month (November). 

Does anyone have any input on how these instruments sound? I've only played one stamped "Hopf", but it looked very different from this one. 

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Hi MaryS --

Interesting project & I wish you great success! You've come to the right place: this site is an incredible resource on how to repair/setup violins.  Some of the people who responded to your post are world-class authorities how to do it right.

I (alas) am not. But as a completely untrained amateur, I've had some success making cheap ebay purchases playable (mainly by reading hundreds of postings on this site). Some stuff I've learned that might be useful:

1. if that neck with its crazy screw is stable, it's likely that the angle will be too low. You can fix that easily with a fingerboard shim. You can buy one from internationalviolin.com for 8$. You could also buy a new fingerboard from them if needed. Figuring out how the angle ought to run is tricky but there's lot of resources on the net to consult. Once you've got the fingerboard right, you'll need to adjust its scoop. For that you need a tiny plane (I got one from Ace hardware for 6$). You will also need some clamps to glue fingerboard & shim to neck.

2.  You'll need some ebony, a sharp little saw, exacto knife, and some kind of bench vice to carve out new nuts. (For ebony, check out bellforestproducts.com -- you can get a Brazilian ebony pen blank for 1.50$)

3. Pegs: the easy way is to buy a set of Knilling Perfection Planetary pegs (about 70$), Installation is trivial.

4. Finish: I've gotten good results using water-colors to get the damaged areas roughly in tune, then painting over with 2-3 coats of thinned-down Belen's Spirit Varnish.

5. Bridge carving and sound post setting. This stuff is really hard to get right. But there's tons of stuff on the net to get you started. The good news is that none of the tools needed are expensive (I bought my sound post setters from fiddlershop). The bad news is that I had to carve 10 bridge blanks (at 6$ a pop) before I got something that was acceptable.

Best of luck!

 

 

 

 

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20 hours ago, MaryS said:

Hey everyone! The violin was delivered and is in better condition than the pictures showed. It will still take some work, but definitely doable by Christmas.

I attached a picture of the inside for those of you that asked! :)

220929.jpeg

" It’s also quite likely to be very roughly carved on the inside of the top, with a very roughly carved integral bass bar. "

Just as I expected. Are you going to go the full route and take the top off, smooth/regraduate (watch out for spots that are already too thin!), and do a real bass bar?

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@MaryS, before you get too far down a path with this violin, keep in mind that these violins were hurriedly made by piece-workers who knew essentially nothing about how to make a good-sounding violin, and that they did not care about how their production violins sounded.

They only wanted to make a violin from cheap materials that was visually presentable and marginally playable. These were imported and sold in the United States for a few dollars (including a bow and case). They have earned the moniker "cheap and nasty" on this Maestronet because that is what they are.

So you may want to consider if this particular example of "cheap and nasty" is truly worth your time and expense. 

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Is the objective to end up with a quality instrument, or to learn how to do repairs?  

In my opinion, this is a good project for OP.  Unless I'm missing something, it needs a lot of common repairs which have not been complicated by epoxy or warpage.  The instrument is not valuable at all, so if she screws it up (pun lol) it's no great loss.  However, it does have a better chance of turning out nice than the cheapest of the cheap VSOs.  My first couple repair projects were extremely similar and I think it's a good way to learn.  

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On 11/20/2021 at 9:38 PM, FiddleDoug said:

A new fingerboard and pegs  as well.

 

On 11/26/2021 at 11:17 PM, Al Cramer said:

Pegs: the easy way is to buy a set of Knilling Perfection Planetary pegs (about 70$), Installation is trivial.

Is something wrong with the pegs it came with?  What do you see to suggest that?  

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4 hours ago, chiaroscuro_violins said:

 

Is something wrong with the pegs it came with?  What do you see to suggest that?  

I don't really need to see anything. Most old, "neglected" violins need peg work. The fingerboard appears to be dyed hardwood, and trying to plane and redye them often turns out poorly.

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5 hours ago, chiaroscuro_violins said:

Is the objective to end up with a quality instrument, or to learn how to do repairs?  

In my opinion, this is a good project for OP.  Unless I'm missing something, it needs a lot of common repairs which have not been complicated by epoxy or warpage.  The instrument is not valuable at all, so if she screws it up (pun lol) it's no great loss.  However, it does have a better chance of turning out nice than the cheapest of the cheap VSOs.  My first couple repair projects were extremely similar and I think it's a good way to learn.  

This is simply a violin that was cheap to learn repairs on. I'll be more than happy if it sounds decent once it is finished, but if not, oh well. I learned a lot. 

Doug, I don't think I'm going to take the top of and fix the inside. I haven't decided fully yet. Time will tell! 

The pegs were actually in decent condition! So, I fixed those up and they're running smoothly. The fingerboard.....is beyond repair and a new one is on order! The nut is also too far gone. I suppose I could shim and recut it, but a new one will do much better...and will save a lot of time/frustration.

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