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3/4th violin repairs


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Hi all, I'm new here on Maestronet however I have referenced the forum here in the pegbox quite a lot. 

I recently became the owner of a 50 dollar fixer-upper 3/4th fiddle. I felt sorry for it so I bought it. It was obviously used quite a lot by a previous owner, had some cracks, and other repairs being needed. I took off the top, created some more splinters, but all in all didn't completely wreck it. I repaired the top plate cracks with hide glue, it seems to be holding fine. I realize I probably should have just taken it to my luthier, and I probably will... however I wanted to try my hand at repair work since I want to be able to do minor repairs on any other violins I might collect.

On to my questions, though...

1. I bought 3/4th pegs on Amazon... they don't fit. Is there a good way to make pegs smaller? Or should I just buy another set?

2. are endpins one size fits all when it comes to 3/4s and 4/4s?

3. violin end saddles, are they one size fits all?

 

Thanks in advance!

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You have found the problem  that a lot of garage luthiers run into. Virtually all parts for violins MUST be fitter! Good luthiers spend hundreds of hours, and lots of money, learning how to do that properly!. Personally, I have been attending summer workshops for 18 years to keep up skills that I don’t use on a regular basis (like soundpost patches).

Cobbling together repairs, without proper training, on fiddles that you find around is not a good thing. By the way, I charge double if I have to fix something that a garage luthier has screwed up the first time.

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1.  You cannot buy pegs that fit your violin; they have to be fit to it.  Making pegs smaller is properly done with a peg shaver.  But there is no guarantee that the taper of the shaved pegs will be the same as the taper of your peg holes, so a peg hole reamer that matches the taper of the shaver is also required.  If you have a reamer, a block of wood and a blade, you can make a shaver.

2.  No.  The same shaver and reamer that are used for fitting pegs are also used on the end pin and the end pine hole.

3.  No.  To make a saddle, I usually start with a scrap of ebony, perhaps part of an old fingerboard, and cut away everything that doesn’t look like a saddle.

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You've got a busted ¾-size fiddle someone was selling for $50; you're probably not going to ruin something important.  My bet is that any of these guys would tell you it's not worth fixing if you came to them.  So in that case, probably go ahead.

You should try to figure out what you're doing before you do it rather than after, though; maybe read a book or two about violin repair, and then look closely at a good instrument in good repair to figure out what you need to achieve.  Don't do anything you can't undo until you're sure you can do it right.  It is possible for an amateur to do an okay job of the sort of repairs you're talking about, in the context of a fiddle that's otherwise fit for the trash, but you need to give it more thought than it sounds like you have been doing.  Expect to spend some money on tools, or time and intellectual effort making them yourself.

But I have to wonder, what's the goal here?  To have some kid — that's who a ¾-size is for — play on a poor violin that's badly repaired and badly set up by an amateur who doesn't know what they're doing?

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Thanks all for the kind advice, and to address some of your concerns;

I'm not concerned with the amateur quality of the repairs. I essentially bought it because I felt that a 50 dollar low quality mass produced German is safer to experiment on rather than my actual fiddle. If I can repair this 3/4 so it is playable and sounds halfway decent, I'll be happy. I'm not gifting it to a kid. I'm trying to figure out how to repair fiddles. If anyone has advice on how to best do that when first starting out, I'd appreciate it. I'm a college student and a musician, so the lower cost options the better. I genuinely want to learn how to repair them properly.

Also, another question, best place to buy things like end pins and peg reamers?

Thanks again!

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46 minutes ago, NHFiddler said:

Thanks all for the kind advice, and to address some of your concerns;

I'm not concerned with the amateur quality of the repairs. I essentially bought it because I felt that a 50 dollar low quality mass produced German is safer to experiment on rather than my actual fiddle. If I can repair this 3/4 so it is playable and sounds halfway decent, I'll be happy. I'm not gifting it to a kid. I'm trying to figure out how to repair fiddles. If anyone has advice on how to best do that when first starting out, I'd appreciate it. I'm a college student and a musician, so the lower cost options the better. I genuinely want to learn how to repair them properly.

Also, another question, best place to buy things like end pins and peg reamers?

Thanks again!

If the NH means that you're in New Hampshire, UNH offers some summer workshops. MCLA in Mass. also offers summer workshops.

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1 hour ago, NHFiddler said:

I'm not concerned with the amateur quality of the repairs. I essentially bought it because I felt that a 50 dollar low quality mass produced German is safer to experiment on rather than my actual fiddle. If I can repair this 3/4 so it is playable and sounds halfway decent, I'll be happy.

Self-taught, whether in making, repair, or playing doesn't have a great track record.

 Yes, there have been exceptions from time to time.

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Amazon and Ebay have all that stuff.  They are junk tools, but work well enough for amateurs like us learning on garbage instruments.

I'm getting better.  I should be ready to crack upen the Strad in a month or two

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3 hours ago, NHFiddler said:

Thanks all for the kind advice, and to address some of your concerns;

I'm not concerned with the amateur quality of the repairs. I essentially bought it because I felt that a 50 dollar low quality mass produced German is safer to experiment on rather than my actual fiddle. If I can repair this 3/4 so it is playable and sounds halfway decent, I'll be happy. I'm not gifting it to a kid. I'm trying to figure out how to repair fiddles. If anyone has advice on how to best do that when first starting out, I'd appreciate it. I'm a college student and a musician, so the lower cost options the better. I genuinely want to learn how to repair them properly.

Also, another question, best place to buy things like end pins and peg reamers?

Thanks again!

I don’t remember where I bought my reamer but I bought my last end pins and pegs from international violin in Baltimore. I’m pretty sure they also sell reamers, along with a pretty intensive array of other tools. (The holes for the pegs and end pins are the same.) 

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Look into "geared pegs" - those manufactured by Wittner or Knilling.  They come in a variety of diameters for fitting, but you will still need a micrometer and a "peg-hole reamer," both of which are reasonably priced at Amazon.

Use the micrometer to measure the diameter of your largest peg (or peg hole) at the hole and be sure the diameter of the set of pegs you buy is no smaller than that. Whatever you do be sure to measure at least twice before "cutting? (i.e., reaming) - 3 times is even better because you can't go back!!! After reading all the instructions work through the whole process in your mind - as if you were a surgeon before you start the work.

Do the same with the endpin. I would buy a new set of tuning pegs according to my measuring instructions (shaving pegs and getting them to fit well is not easy - and there is no way to shave geared pegs). (I'm no luthier, but I have installed sets of geared tuning pegs on 14 instruments.) I recommend you use geared pegs of the smallest diameter equal to or larger than your current peg hole. I think 4/4violin  pegs should work on a 3/4 violin - or any viola, for that matter.

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1 hour ago, Andrew Victor said:

Look into "geared pegs" - those manufactured by Wittner or Knilling.  They come in a variety of diameters for fitting, but you will still need a micrometer and a "peg-hole reamer," both of which are reasonably priced at Amazon.

Use the micrometer to measure the diameter of your largest peg (or peg hole) at the hole and be sure the diameter of the set of pegs you buy is no smaller than that. Whatever you do be sure to measure at least twice before "cutting? (i.e., reaming) - 3 times is even better because you can't go back!!! After reading all the instructions work through the whole process in your mind - as if you were a surgeon before you start the work.

Do the same with the endpin. I would buy a new set of tuning pegs according to my measuring instructions (shaving pegs and getting them to fit well is not easy - and there is no way to shave geared pegs). (I'm no luthier, but I have installed sets of geared tuning pegs on 14 instruments.) I recommend you use geared pegs of the smallest diameter equal to or larger than your current peg hole. I think 4/4violin  pegs should work on a 3/4 violin - or any viola, for that matter.

They still have to be fitted!!

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19 hours ago, NHFiddler said:

best place to buy...peg reamers?

There are peg shavers and there are peg hole reamers — two separate tools — but there are no peg reamers.

As FiddleMkr said, International Violin Company is a reasonable place to buy stuff.  But, if you are considering buying a shaver and a reamer, you should be aware that these tools come in different sizes for full-size and small-size violins.  The size that you need will depend on the present sizes of your peg holes.  A 3/4 violin could go either way.  A shaver and reamer costs about $250 at International, so you want to be sure to get the right sizes.  I have found the International staff helpful over the phone.

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On 5/10/2024 at 2:10 PM, FiddleDoug said:

...[University of New Hampshire] offers some summer workshops...

The UNH classes went remote when covid hit and they are still only offered remotely.  Having taken many classes there in person, I have doubts about how much I could have gotten out of them if I had taken them remotely.  One of the former violin repair instructors stopped teaching at UNH because he thought that the procedures he taught in his classes there could not be properly taught on-line.

But you might find it interesting to go to the description of the basic violin set-up class:

https://training.unh.edu/course/ViolinSetup

and look at the recommended tool list to see the investment in tools it could take for you to set up your 3/4.

 

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