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Neck repair/reset


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#1 Matthias Lange

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 03:49 AM

I want to repair this violin. The neck is loose and a part of the neckblock is broken out. The button is also broken. Part of the ribs are loose on the neck block.
What is the proper way to repair this?

I would take the top of and insert a piece of spruce in the neckblock, then reglue the ribs and reset the neck.
For the button, I would glue the bit ,that broke of, back and fit a ebony crown.
Is it necessary to fit a patch? I would like to avoid fitting a reinforceing patch, as that would mean I have to remove the back from the ribs.

Thanks,
Matthias

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#2 fiddlecollector

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 04:13 AM

I want to repair this violin. The neck is loose and a part of the neckblock is broken out. The button is also broken. Part of the ribs are loose on the neck block.
What is the proper way to repair this?

I would take the top of and insert a piece of spruce in the neckblock, then reglue the ribs and reset the neck.
For the button, I would glue the bit ,that broke of, back and fit a ebony crown.
Is it necessary to fit a patch? I would like to avoid fitting a reinforceing patch, as that would mean I have to remove the back from the ribs.

Thanks,
Matthias

You could try as you suggest reglueing the piece thats came out of the button(i dont see a reason why not). The depth of the tear out near the back of the button which is the part that requires the most strength is negligable ,so it should be as strong once reglued as before the accident happened.If its done well and touched up ,i dont really see a need for the ebony crown ,unless you are reseting the neck angle and not just putting it back like it was before?

#3 stradglider

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 06:34 AM

I would take the top of and insert a piece of spruce in the neckblock, then reglue the ribs and reset the neck.
For the button, I would glue the bit ,that broke of, back and fit a ebony crown.
Is it necessary to fit a patch? I would like to avoid fitting a reinforceing patch, as that would mean I have to remove the back from the ribs.

Thanks,
Matthias

It doesn't seem to me that there is need to remove the top in order to add missing pieces in the block. Unless there is more going on - badly fitted block or severe cracks in the block (you need to check if there is also micro cracks going sideways in the block were the wood splinted - often hard to see at the first sight). As it seems you got all the missing pieces on the neck, so you just need to carefully remove them and glue in place.

Same goes for the missing piece in the button. I would recommend to take some time and clean the dirt at the missing piece in the button - looks like it was open for some time already.

If the fit was not firm, you can add thin shims at the side cheeks of the block in order to make it fit better. I would say that the button shouldn't be what holds the neck in place but the block. So you need to make sure it precisely fitted at the block. No need to patch and make crone to the button, surely not when the splinter is so small.

#4 ~ Ben Conover

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 07:15 AM

Who made the violin ?
Looking at the photo, the spruce under the ribs has partly come away.

I'd take the front and back off, do a button graft, a new top block, then put it back together with a proper neck elevation and set up.

Cheers.

#5 FiddleDoug

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 07:40 AM

What's your skill and experience level working on instruments? For a beginner, your thoughts on doing the repair would work OK, but removing the top is not necessary. If you have previous neck resetting experience, you know to pay attention to all the angles. Also, I'm not sure that the ebony crown on the button would be necessary.

#6 Matthias Lange

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 10:19 AM

Thank you for your replies!

I don't know who made the violin. It is labelled F.H. Caussin. See here.

Skill and experience level: beginner. I'm in the process of building my second violin. I have set two necks and have never reset a neck, but have made a button graft and a ebony crown before.

I will check if there are microcracks in the block. The ribs have become loose for about the first 5mm on the block. When glueing the pieces back in place, in which order would you glue the things. First the loose ribs to the block, then the pieces or all at the same time?

I will try to reglue the pieces to the button and touch up the varnish. If it does not look well, I can still add the crown later.

The elevation was a bit low, but the projection and string angle seemed to be okay. So I'd rather not change the neck angle.

Matthias

#7 Janito

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 10:25 AM

What is intriguing me about this break is the way the spruce block has been removed from under the rib on each side, and is now stuck to the heel.

It is difficult to imagine how this would happen without loosening the rib edges that abut the heel.

I think this may have some bearing on where Ben is coming from...

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#8 FiddleDoug

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 10:47 AM

I would reglue the ribs to the block first, then replace the broken parts of the block (I'm thinking that you might be able to soak the original wood off the neck and reuse it?). Re-glue the button fragment. After that is all set, reset the neck. If the neck angle was wrong before it broke, you may have to add wood the the neck mortise and re-cut it to correct things.

#9 stradofear

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 11:09 AM

I completely agree with Doug. Given your level of inexperience, the deeper you go, the more likely you are to get into trouble, and no one should be able to complain about the very conservative act of simply lifting the broken bits from where they don't belong and carefully gluing them where they do go. This way, you've changed nothing, and someone (or you, in the future) will be able to correct whatever might need correcting without having to complain about the parts you threw away and clumsily replaced with new wood.

Further, since you're satisfied with the basic neck set and seem to only want to put it back where it was, I would at least try washing out all of the glue that may be there now on the gluing surfaces, and pushing the neck back into the cleaned up hole. Does it go back stiffly (probably not). If it does, you can glue it right back in. If it's a bit loose, you may be able to shove a plane shaving in on one side or the other, or both, of the heel, achieve good tightness of the joint, and easily glue it back in. This isn't the "legitimate" way to do it, but I have done this several times with $100 violins I was fixing as a favor, and it can be a good and permanent repair if the original neckset wasn't totally stupid. Again, the less you cut the less you can cut wrong.

#10 Brad Dorsey

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 12:01 PM

no one should be able to complain about the very conservative act of simply lifting the broken bits from where they don't belong and carefully gluing them where they do go....since you're satisfied with the basic neck set and seem to only want to put it back where it was


This makes sense to me, but I suggest that the first step might be to check if the upper ribs need shortening. This would be the case if the overhangs of the top and back over the ribs has become reduced or uneven, as it looks like it might be in your picture. With the neck out, you have an opportunity to correct this that will be gone once the neck is back in.

To correct this, free the upper ribs from the plates and the block, and reglue them with the proper margin. To reglue the ribs to the block, I use a clamp that spans the length of the instrument, with appropriate counterparts, after ensuring that the end blocks are glued solidly to the plates. This will project the ribs a bit farther into the neck mortise. Trim away the excess rib material when you reset the neck.

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#11 stradglider

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 12:21 PM

This makes sense to me, but I suggest that the first step might be to check if the upper ribs need shortening. This would be the case if the overhangs of the top and back over the ribs has become reduced or uneven, as it looks like it might be in your picture. With the neck out, you have an opportunity to correct this that will be gone once the neck is back in.

I wonder how can you shorten the ribs without shortening the linings, or do you suggest to cut linings as well? Sounds a bit tricky...

#12 Matthias Lange

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 12:38 PM

the less you cut the less you can cut wrong.

That's a valid point. But one of my intentions to repair it was to learn repairs. I also think I have enough control over my tools to not cut wrong too often. :)
But if glueing everything back in place gives a solid and good looking result, I'll probably do that.
I will also have a look at the overhang, before, to see if I need to shorten the ribs.

Thanks for your advice.

Matthias

#13 stradofear

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 01:06 PM

The best repair is the one that get you where you want to be with the least intervention. How would you like it if you went to the doctor and he said "all you need is a pill, but I'm going to open you up because I want the practice." :-)

That's a valid point. But one of my intentions to repair it was to learn repairs. I also think I have enough control over my tools to not cut wrong too often. :D
But if glueing everything back in place gives a solid and good looking result, I'll probably do that.
I will also have a look at the overhang, before, to see if I need to shorten the ribs.

Thanks for your advice.

Matthias



#14 Brad Dorsey

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 02:10 PM

I wonder how can you shorten the ribs without shortening the linings, or do you suggest to cut linings as well? Sounds a bit tricky...


Thanks for bringing this up. I forgot to mention it. Yes, if the ribs are shortened the linings will also probably need to be shortened. I make a pencil mark on the outside of the rib to show the end of the lining, and I make a pencil mark on the top edge to show the extent of the block. I press the rib into place against the block. The alignment of the two pencil marks with each other tells me if the lining needs shortening. If it does, I can bend the rib out far enough (since I have previously released it from the plates to about the corner block) to trim the lining shorter with a narrow knife.

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#15 Fellow

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 02:34 PM

I want to repair this violin. The neck is loose and a part of the neckblock is broken out. The button is also broken. Part of the ribs are loose on the neck block.
What is the proper way to repair this?

I would take the top of and insert a piece of spruce in the neckblock, then reglue the ribs and reset the neck.
For the button, I would glue the bit ,that broke of, back and fit a ebony crown.
Is it necessary to fit a patch? I would like to avoid fitting a reinforceing patch, as that would mean I have to remove the back from the ribs.

Thanks,
Matthias


++++++++++++++++++

Looking at the pictures of your violin I cannot help thinking that somebody used too much force to bend the neck in order to correct its neck angle.
I must admit that I am not a very good detective. :)

#16 stradglider

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 01:18 AM

Thanks for bringing this up. I forgot to mention it. Yes, if the ribs are shortened the linings will also probably need to be shortened. I make a pencil mark on the outside of the rib to show the end of the lining, and I make a pencil mark on the top edge to show the extent of the block. I press the rib into place against the block. The alignment of the two pencil marks with each other tells me if the lining needs shortening. If it does, I can bend the rib out far enough (since I have previously released it from the plates to about the corner block) to trim the lining shorter with a narrow knife.

Thank you, Brad. It is very interesting method. I was dismissing it been afraid of breaking the rib off when cutting the lining... I guess it actually not more dangerous than cutting the rib with the top removed. Anyways, if someone trying this for the first time, he should be extremely careful - the rib can break very easily when cutting the lining with rib open (don't let the violin to slip from your hands!).

I wonder what is the chance of lining separating from the rib when releasing the rib from the plates and block? How would you deal with that if the instrument is not open?

Brad, do you have a photo of your clamping setting when gluing ribs to block you were talking about? I use a method with clamps that used to glue plates to ribs, and put some wood shims under them to press the rib in. The big clamp sounds so much better...

#17 Matthias Lange

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 03:36 AM

How would you like it if you went to the doctor and he said "all you need is a pill, but I'm going to open you up because I want the practice." :-)


Point taken. Thanks for your help.

I had a look at the overhang again, and it is pretty much the same all around but gets wider at the neck heel.
To correct this, they would need to be lengthened. :)
Perhaps someone reset the neck before and shortened the ribs?

Matthias

#18 stradglider

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 04:10 AM

I had a look at the overhang again, and it is pretty much the same all around but gets wider at the neck heel.
To correct this, they would need to be lengthened. :)
Perhaps someone reset the neck before and shortened the ribs?

Matthias

Wider overhand at the neck heel is pretty standart thing. I think it was made like this by the maker (at least the bass side of the back). On the treble side however there seems to be a problem about 5 cm from the heel. If you compare the overhang there with what you have got at the bout, my guess it will be 1- 1.5mm less. It also appears to be open at that place from the photo. Try to press the rib a little in with the finger and see if it can be pressed easily. Don't use too much force and try to press at the side of the rib were there is a lining reinforcement, not in the middle of the rib to avoid rib cracking in case it's very thin.

Another much easier way to fix the rib been too close to the edge (when it is not too severe) without cutting the rib would be to release the back plate up to the corner and glue again distributing the overhang equally.

#19 Matthias Lange

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 04:53 AM

Yes you are right (and have good eyes!), I tried to press it, but it does not move. There also is tzhe same problem with the overhang on the top in the bass c-bout.

Matthias

#20 Fellow

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 06:41 AM

Yes you are right (and have good eyes!), I tried to press it, but it does not move. There also is tzhe same problem with the overhang on the top in the bass c-bout.

Matthias


++++++++++++++


Let me show you some pictures ( before and after)
I was once in your situation. I bought it for repair practice. A lot of fun.
As other said you should leave a margin (slightly larger) for the neck angle because the strings tension
will pull the neck toward the belly. The resulting neck angle will be reduced somewhat from tension..

Basic things are the same (1) repair the sound box (2) attach the neck to the block. Enjoy your project.

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