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Shame to trash this cello


Malt
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Hello Everyone!

Someone gave me a cello (TONARELI CELLO, MODEL 1500, YEAR 2010), it has a crack at the bottom right (See link with many pics), he was told that repairing the cello would probably cost more than the instrument itself; in my unprofessional opinion, everything else besides the crack look in great shape, it seems that it was not played much, he kept the cello in a closet full of things and some object pressed against the cello and damaged it.

It would be a shame to see this beautiful cello (in my opinion) being thrown in the trash, hence I decided that although I have never done that kind of repair, I am going to do it with the best care possible, nothing to lose but much to gain.

I am not a luthier nor I pretend to be one, I admire their work a great deal, especially their patients.  I am an old retired person; enthusiast of violins and cellos and I have done a bit of carpentry on my 10 inexpensive violins. (I don’t even play violin well but enjoy it a great deal and now I might learn how to play cello).

 

Reading a bit and watching videos of cello and violin repairs, I decided to take the following steps to fix it, if any of you experts have any advice or any warning before I start, you are welcome to express it, I would appreciate very much.

This is what I am planning to do:

The first step would be to remove carefully the top of the cello. I got me a nice piece of maple rib material that I will shape as much as possible to fit the inside of the curvature of the area to be repaired.  Now, using white glue, will glue back the cracks to its original way as much as possible (no pieces missing) and immediately, glue the piece of maple rib material (Hide glue) on the inside and clamp it well.

Next step, glue back the top plate (Hide glue) and clamp it well. I am already making the clamps and they are coming really well.

About the finishing of the cello, I would not know how to do it; in the past, I have used some shellac in small touch-ups, any simple advices?

 

Thank you in advance.

 

Link with photos:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/u6ekah6qqi4tlbl/AADT438MMCK-8Zgi2XHYPCmVa?dl=0

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Gorilla sells a transparent tape that will keep the color of the rib visible until you decide to s.

The 1877 cello I was given to start my lessons in 1949 already had some openings in the ribs that I taped over with scotch tape. (I did some serious playing on that instrument.) More serious damage occurred  in 1962 when the cello was moved from east to west coast (USA) - and the neck was broken off. The cello was then very crudely repaired, but still played a bit even as the rib holes and their tape coverings got bigger until 1990 when I trusted it to a friend of mine who had taken up luthery (and by then made and sold a dozen violins, 3 violas and 3 cellos) agreed to repair it for $10/hour. It is still a very nice playing and sounding instrument*** after that $110 repair and remains in my family (although no longer then only cello).

***As good as ever - can't say "as good as new" because that was too long ago for me!

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6 hours ago, Shelbow said:

I posted a few of the pics for you as some of the members here don't like to click on unknown links for pictures.

Thank you Shelbow, I appreciate it.

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7 hours ago, Malt said:

I am not a luthier nor I pretend to be one [...] and now I might learn how to play cello).

It looks like it could be playable enough to learn on.  When it comes time to get an unbroken cello, then some shop good enough to replace a rib section might give you something for this one

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13 hours ago, Malt said:

Hello Everyone!

Someone gave me a cello (TONARELI CELLO, MODEL 1500, YEAR 2010), it has a crack at the bottom right (See link with many pics), he was told that repairing the cello would probably cost more than the instrument itself; in my unprofessional opinion, everything else besides the crack look in great shape, it seems that it was not played much, he kept the cello in a closet full of things and some object pressed against the cello and damaged it.

It would be a shame to see this beautiful cello (in my opinion) being thrown in the trash, hence I decided that although I have never done that kind of repair, I am going to do it with the best care possible, nothing to lose but much to gain.

I am not a luthier nor I pretend to be one, I admire their work a great deal, especially their patients.  I am an old retired person; enthusiast of violins and cellos and I have done a bit of carpentry on my 10 inexpensive violins. (I don’t even play violin well but enjoy it a great deal and now I might learn how to play cello).

 

Reading a bit and watching videos of cello and violin repairs, I decided to take the following steps to fix it, if any of you experts have any advice or any warning before I start, you are welcome to express it, I would appreciate very much.

This is what I am planning to do:

The first step would be to remove carefully the top of the cello. I got me a nice piece of maple rib material that I will shape as much as possible to fit the inside of the curvature of the area to be repaired.  Now, using white glue, will glue back the cracks to its original way as much as possible (no pieces missing) and immediately, glue the piece of maple rib material (Hide glue) on the inside and clamp it well.

Next step, glue back the top plate (Hide glue) and clamp it well. I am already making the clamps and they are coming really well.

About the finishing of the cello, I would not know how to do it; in the past, I have used some shellac in small touch-ups, any simple advices?

 

Thank you in advance.

 

Link with photos:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/u6ekah6qqi4tlbl/AADT438MMCK-8Zgi2XHYPCmVa?dl=0

Since it is evidently a fairly recent Fabrik-Semmel, I would try to find out where it was made, and ask them if they could supply a replacement lower rib. If you have no violin-making background at all, the dustbin would be the better option, since you will experience immense frustration as a clueless handyman

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That's a mess!! I guess that if I were to do a real budget salvage job on that, I would make some kind of counter form, inside and our, fitted to the good rib, to hold things in place while the glue sets. I would also consider using 1/32" birch plywood instead of rib material. It bends nicely in one direction (curve of the rib), and is stiffer in the other (across the rib). You wouldn't have to worry about preforming the rib overlay, or cracking it.

https://www.misterart.com/crafts/model-making/balsa-basswood/sid~46997~/midwest-thin-birch-plywood.html

You may also be able to find this at local hobby/model stores.

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I don't know if I would recommend this to a beginner, but one of the first guitar jobs I did 40+ years ago involved replacing an entire side of a Gibson guitar that had an amp fall on it. What I did was rout out the rib, leaving the blocks, linings, and bindings glued in place, made a new rib to fit, then clamped it back into the hole against the blocks and linings. When finished it was completely invisible from any angle, inside and out.  Because guitar sides are flush, the routing and clamping were both easy. Before removing the rib I made precise measurements of the height every couple of inches so that the new rib was a perfect replacement and didn't distort anything. It was pretty amazing, actually, and the customer was relieved and delighted.  A cello would be a bit harder.

The advantage of such a repair done on a new instrument is that if done well no one ever needs to know and the value is maintained.

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I want to throw my two-cents in (if they're even worth that much) and say that for the level of instrument you're probably on the right repair track. There are things I would do differently than your plan though. I would use hot hide glue all the way around so as to give myself and any future luthier as much leeway as possible to have one more try by being able to clean out the old glue and try again. I would use somewhat flexible plexi to help level cracks as I glue them (which I would take only a small portion at a time). And I wouldn't chase the whole area with one large patch. I think smaller patches and cleats just to help reinforce where needed would be much more manageable and lend a more desirable end result especially if time is taken to thin them after they're set.

An experienced luthier with a nicer instrument might take the rib off the upper block to more thoroughly repair that portion of crack (?) but for you and it just work what hot thin glue you can into it from the outside. For aesthetic purposes once the top is back on you might look at some sort of french polish or just an alcohol  varnish layer over the area (I really have no handle on the details of this idea as I have no hands-on experience, only watching others and reading - hopefully others can chip in here).

Anyway those were my thoughts and even if they aren't spot on maybe they can help help with ideas.

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8 hours ago, FiddleDoug said:

That's a mess!! I guess that if I were to do a real budget salvage job on that, I would make some kind of counter form, inside and our, fitted to the good rib, to hold things in place while the glue sets. I would also consider using 1/32" birch plywood instead of rib material. It bends nicely in one direction (curve of the rib), and is stiffer in the other (across the rib). You wouldn't have to worry about preforming the rib overlay, or cracking it.

https://www.misterart.com/crafts/model-making/balsa-basswood/sid~46997~/midwest-thin-birch-plywood.html

You may also be able to find this at local hobby/model stores.

Thank you FiddleDoug, I like your advice and thank you for taken the time to reply; I might use some kind of Styrofoam to make the counter forms (inside and out), and the birch plywood to reinforce. 

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8 hours ago, Michael Darnton said:

I don't know if I would recommend this to a beginner, but one of the first guitar jobs I did 40+ years ago involved replacing an entire side of a Gibson guitar that had an amp fall on it. What I did was rout out the rib, leaving the blocks, linings, and bindings glued in place, made a new rib to fit, then clamped it back into the hole against the blocks and linings. When finished it was completely invisible from any angle, inside and out.  Because guitar sides are flush, the routing and clamping were both easy. Before removing the rib I made precise measurements of the height every couple of inches so that the new rib was a perfect replacement and didn't distort anything. It was pretty amazing, actually, and the customer was relieved and delighted.  A cello would be a bit harder.

The advantage of such a repair done on a new instrument is that if done well no one ever needs to know and the value is maintained.

Thank you Michael Darnton for taken the time to reply.

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On 6/14/2022 at 5:51 PM, Rue said:

Yeah!  And if you keep us posted, be prepared for a lot of 'constructive criticism'...much of which will be contradictory!

Let the games begin! :lol:

Here, I'll start us off with our first disagreement, Well I don't think there will be any contradictions or disagreements at all  :rolleyes: :lol:

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On 6/11/2022 at 5:19 PM, Malt said:

About the finishing of the cello, I would not know how to do it; in the past, I have used some shellac in small touch-ups, any simple advices?

As a non-luthier I would put in a vote for not trying to touch up the finish to cover the repair, at least don't make it invisible. I love instruments that have warts and scars and a story. 

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I think best for this cello would be selling it on evilbay as is.

Some beginning luthier might consider it good project to hone (and show up) his skills and in the end he could sell it with no loss...

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On 6/14/2022 at 3:00 PM, violguy said:

If you decide to go ahead with your repair plan,please post pix of your progress as I'm sure many Mnetters would be interested.

Good luck!!

Thank you for your reply Violguy, Rue, Jessupe, Glebert and HoGo,  By the way, I’ll try to upload some pics, the only thing is that I work slowly so it might be sometime before I finish. (But I enjoy all the way) :D

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12 hours ago, jezzupe said:

Here, I'll start us off with our first disagreement, Well I don't think there will be any contradictions or disagreements at all  :rolleyes: :lol:

You were saying? ^_^

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