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Shipping a violin for setup work, worth it?


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Hello everyone,

My violin is not expensive but it is mine and important to me.  I need my soundpost refitted, as I like the tension and the sound, but it's pretty far "east" that it's lifting the treble wing about 0.5 mm.  I posted about it a year or so ago and the general consensus was that it needed to be corrected, but wasn't an emergency.

(the original thread):

I have a local shop, but it's "okay" for setup work and I don't have 100% confidence in the setting/fitting of a new post, or optimum placement of the current post.  My options are (a) drive eight hours to albuquerque to Robertson and Sons, or consider mailing my violin somewhere for setup work.  


Given the changes that can happen during shipping, is it even worth sending it away for work?  Thanks!

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Its not uncommon to ship instruments back and forth set up (usually with the strings loosened a bit). Most shops do this routinely, many do a lot of sales by shipping instruments for trials. But I would call the shop and ask them. Sure there's more of a risk of a bump, but usually all goes well. For some people its the only practical choice. 

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If you do ship it there is a video on my website about packing it which may help. I would add that you shouldn't leave the bow in the case while shipping. Pack it separately to avoid having it slide in the bow holder of the case and bang the tip.

If you can then pick it up in person after the work is done the technician can hear you play to do final adjustments. Otherwise you are asking them to guess how you want it to sound and even then the shipping may change the sound from where they set it.

Albuquerque has great shopping. Make a day of it! :)

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Will view Maestro Slobodkin's video soon. Yes, ship as little as you can.

I have shipped violins and violas for repair and set up. So much depends on the how the instruments are prepped. And how it is shipped. To the cheap "carbon" cello case thread, there are many factors when packing and sending an instrument. I do not think that there are truly, rigid carbon cases, that are cheap. There are composites. I think that the structure is important and also anticipating what might break. String tension is likely the 1st issue. Aside from punctures to the body, the neck is the next likely to go.

I do not regret this nor suggest it, but did have an instrument fully strung, "above pitch," shipped from Europe. The maker and I agreed to the risk. He was right, it was perfect. Can not remember the shipper, but might have been DHL. His comment was that the instrument was handled entirely by the carrier and was not shared passage with other vendors.

As Deans had suggested, lowering the string tension, and supporting the bridge and tailpiece and fingerboard is important. I prep all these now. Again, I prefer to travel if there is time.

I do hate shipping now. With insurance, depending on who I work with, flying made a whole lot of difference. But I currently refuse to fly. Must wait... Even for small parts US postal can be slow. Have not seen anything damaged with small parts, though cds get damaged. I mostly fly with cellos for sale or delivery ( for friends, ) meaning buy it a seat unless playing a friends wedding where something can be borrowed locally. It is an issue for cellists. I have lent out, and have had two of my high- end cellos cases broken by the airlines. One was a Fiberglas Gage copy that flew to Cleveland for an audition and the other was a Gewa Ultra to Europe. Instruments ok, having prepped properly. Remember packing underwear into your instrument cases? Have submitted claims for both, where neither airlines ( where one is International ) refused to pay. Also have had Travel Security damage instruments. 

Because I can not see the photo, is this a longer f- hole? Is .5mm within working parameters?

The local tech is useful as changes and tweaking ( and learning ) can be worth it. I do most of my work but 2nd and 3rd opinions are important if one can afford them. Truly the experiences havs been valuable. 

I had Robertson's send a cello out west via airport cargo ( as this reduces handling ) and the cello arrive in great condition. I am sure they ship many and tremendously experienced as must be Shar, Carriage House, Southwest, etc...

If the instrument is of utmost personal value, though, I would make an appointment, drive out, have a great meal or take in an Opera, stay over night, try the instrument the next day.  

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