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Soundpost crack with cleats - no patch - worth messing with if holding?


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I bought a very interesting violin at auction recently, about 100 years old. Really nicely made. Thing is, it has a soundpost crack (and several other top cracks). All the cracks are repaired very nicely. By that I mean, the cracks are perfectly level, no lips, and all are cleated on the inside. You can't even see the crack lines on the inside. The cleats appear to be pretty old. I'm basing that on the general amount of dirt and dust built up on them, the color of the wood the cleats are made from, and the color of the tiny bit of glue poking out from underneath a couple of them. 

It was still set up and under some tension when I got it in the mail, so presumably someone was playing it at some point. If I had to guess, I would say retail for this instrument, sold out of a shop, is somewhere around $5,000. My question is... Is it worth forking over the money for a soundpost patch or setting it up as is and seeing how it does? I can get a patch done locally for around $1,200 - $1,500. But I've seen a handful of old violins over the years with soundpost cracks and no patch, just glued and cleated, or even just glued, and being played on. Always seemed unbelievable to me, but they were holding just fine. 

What would you do? My plan with this violin is to play, hold onto it from some years, and then eventually sell it.

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I'll go with the side of leaving it alone. I also have an old violin in a similar state that has held up to almost constant tension for 25 years, and who knows how long before that. 

These days restorers are getting more and more conservative about removing wood. And techniques are constantly changing. A patch may be obsolete at some point, but probably not in our time.

As far as being "worth it" its hard to say. Peace of mind for an instrument you might rely on might have value. As far as resale goes, I dont know. You'll be sinking money into it, will it be more sellable later? I tend to avoid instruments that havent been repaired with as SPP. I actually like it it when I see a well done patch-it means I probably wont have to deal with it myself. But my thoughts are beginning to change.

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Here’s how I would think about it:

 

How confident are you that the repair will outlast you as the seller? If it does eventually fail, are you willing and able to stand behind the instrument and either repair it free of charge or reimburse the buyer for the cost of the repair at a shop (if you don’t do work yourself)? Obviously, if there’s damage as the result of neglect or carelessness, that’s on the buyer, but if a repair fails, it’s on you as the seller to take care of it unless the instrument was explicitly sold as-is. 

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On 7/12/2022 at 2:52 AM, send_varnish_secrets said:

What would you do? My plan with this violin is to play, hold onto it from some years, and then eventually sell it.

If you are happy that it is stable, then I'd just get on and play it.
What you might decide today may not be relevant anyway in 10 years time, when you come to sell it.

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A fresh (non-contaminated) crack in a spruce top can be glued with hot hide glue, in such a way that it exceeds the strength of the surrounding wood. Whether this will succeed or fail largely  depends on the skill and experience of the Gluermeister.

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4 hours ago, David Burgess said:

A fresh (non-contaminated) crack in a spruce top can be glued with hot hide glue, in such a way that it exceeds the strength of the surrounding wood. Whether this will succeed or fail largely  depends on the skill and experience of the Gluermeister.

I agree that good glue and a good repairman can lead to a joint that’s strong enough to hold in most conditions. However, since I usually can’t be sure of at least one of those things, I tend to err more on the side of caution. When it comes to just gluing a crack without any cleats or a patch, I always make it clear to the customer that I can’t guarantee that the glue joint will hold. I haven’t had issues with cracks opening up, but I’m not close enough to retirement, dementia, or death to be comfortable taking on the risk!

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